Updated Home Office guidance: Coronavirus (COVID-19): Tier 4 sponsors, migrants and short-term students

29 May 2020

The Home Office has updated its Covid 19 guidance for Tier 4 sponsor, Tier 4 students and short-term students. This was updated on 29 May 2020.

The guidance has been updated to reflect the changes made last week to extend the free extension to those whose leave expires between 24 January and 31 July 2020.

Record Keeping

There are additional paragraphs for Tier 4 sponsors (paragraphs 2.4 and 2.5) on record keeping and sponsor notes where an application is made in reliance on the concessions in this guidance. 

Distance learning 

Sponsors do not need to withdraw sponsorship for students who are in the UK but have not yet been able to attend their studies in person due to Covid-19 (paragraph 2.12).

The concession on attendance monitoring in paragraph 2.16 now also applies to work placements.

English language requirements and pre-sessional courses

It has been made clear that self-assessment of English language at B1 level must only be used when assigning a CAS for a pre-sessional English language course (either as a stand-alone course or where a course has a combined CAS for pre-sessional and main course). There are further important requirements about how this concession applies in relation to the reopening of SELT centres (in the new paragraphs 2.28 – 2.31).

Extending Tier 4 permission inside the UK

The guidance now makes clear that there is no concession in relation to the maintenance requirements.

There is a new concession which deals with the requirement in the Tier 4 Rules that there must be no more than 28 day gap between the end of the immigration permission and the start of the course. Paragraph 3.5 introduces a concession to this which accounts for those already in the UK who intend to start a new course in the autumn. It says that the Home Office will exercise discretion in not applying this 28-day rule if:

  • the student had to apply before 31 July because their current leave would expire on or before that date, and 
  • the start date of the new course named on the CAS is no later than 1 October 2020

There is a new concession on academic progress at paragraph 3.7 for those applying for immigration permission in the UK to start a new course at the same level as their previous course and whose leave expires between 24 January and 31 July. They will be exempt from the requirement to demonstrate academic progression if the sponsor confirms on the CAS that the previous course and the new course in combination support the applicant’s genuine career aspirations. This concession will apply to courses with a start date before 01 October 2020.

Police registration 

The police registration concession has been rewritten to be made clearer.

Working hours

There is an expanded list of professions who are able to work more than 20 hours a week (at paragraph 3.11).

Switching into the Tier 4 route in the UK

Paragraph 4.1 has been made clearer by saying that switching into Tier 4 from other immigration routes (not just ‘short-term’ routes) is allowed on exceptional basis.

Permitted study for short-term students

A new paragraph (paragraph 4.5) has been added to the guidance which permits short-term students whose leave expires after 31 July 2020 to study a further course. However, this is only if they are "unable to continue the course that they entered the UK to study by distance learning or they have completed their original course". This paragraph also states that the requirement to leave the UK within 30 days of the end of study will not be applied to those who are unable to leave the UK due to travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

30 day visas

A new paragraph has been added to the end of guidance which deals with those whose 30 day visas (for work, study or to join family) have expired or are about to expire. We assume this refers to the 30-day entry clearance vignette given when an entry clearance application is successful.