On 24 May, we asked the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) student migration policy team to extend the concession for Syrian applicants to cover academic progress.
Many students this year are being obliged to return to the country where they usually live in order to apply for a visa in order to continue their courses. This is because of a change in UKVI's definition of 'academic progress' and how it should be applied. It has become very restrictive and UKVI has refused requests from us and other organisations to allow students who need more time to complete a course to make their application for further immigration permission in the UK.
This puts Syrian students and their families at a particular disadvantage. However, the concession does not provide an exception to the academic progress requirements, so Syrian students were advised by UKVI staff that they had to leave the UK with other students in this situation.
On 28 July 2016, the head of the student migration policy team replied to our request for an extension of the concession:
"On academic progression specifically, UKVI will apply discretion in the case of an application from a Syrian national assuming all other requirements are met".
We asked the head of PBS Study Operations whether all relevant UKVI staff are aware of this as the document containing the concession has not been amended to include it. He replied today:
"Not yet – it was only agreed yesterday so guidance will be circulated to caseworkers and licence managers in the next day or so".
If applications must be made in the next few days, you should include the confirmation cited above by Anna Lacey, head of student migration policy in a letter accompanying documents. UKCISA members (institutions) may contact us to obtain a copy of the email, if necessary.