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Detailed guide: Coronavirus (COVID-19): Student sponsors

Home Office

March 3
10:00 2021

Student absence

We will not take enforcement action against sponsors who continue to sponsor students despite absences due to coronavirus.

You do not need to report student absences related to coronavirus.

This can include absences due to illness, their need to isolate or inability to travel due to travel restrictions.

You do not need to withdraw sponsorship if students are studying remotely because of coronavirus, as they are considered to be attending.

We will keep this under review.

Distance learning

You can continue to sponsor existing students (including Tier 4) who are continuing their studies through distance learning, or starting a new course, whether theyre in the UK or another country.

You can also start sponsoring new students who will start studying through distance or blended learning in the 2020-2021 academic year, provided you intend to transition to face-to-face learning as soon as it is possible to do so.

If a student has permanently withdrawn from their studies or deferred their studies for a period exceeding 60 days, you must report this as usual.

You do not need to withdraw sponsorship for new students who have been issued a Student visa but are distance learning because they have been unable to travel to the UK.

If a student stops engaging with their distance learning for more than 30 days, whether overseas or in the UK, you must withdraw sponsorship.

New international students who have not yet applied for a visa but want to start a course which will wholly be studied overseas by distance learning do not require sponsorship under the Student or Child Student routes. This is because they do not need to travel to the UK.

For students planning to travel to the UK to start a course by distance learning, they must have a CAS and a Student or Child Student visa before they travel.

You do not need to tell the Home Office when students have moved to distance learning.This distance learning concession will be in place for the duration of the 2020-21 academic year. The concession will be subject to regular monitoring to ensure it is working as intended, and we will review it at the end of the 2020-21 academic year.

Students who have not yet applied for a visa

If you have issued a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS), the student can still apply for a visa.

The start date for the course stated on the CAS may have changed. We will not automatically refuse such cases.

For example, we may accept a CAS if it has become invalid because the student was unable to travel as a result of coronavirus. We will consider this on a case-by-case basis.

Students waiting for visa decisions

You may allow students to start their studies before their visa application has been decided if:

  • you are a Student sponsor
  • you have assigned the student a CAS
  • the student submitted their application before their current visa expired and has shown you evidence of this
  • the course they start is the same as the one listed on their CAS
  • the student has a valid Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate if required

Your reporting responsibilities start from the date that you issue the CAS, not from the date that their application is granted.

If the students application is eventually rejected as invalid or refused you must terminate the students studies.

If you need more information about the measures in place for students and their sponsors

You can read detailed guidance on the temporary measures in place for Student sponsors, their students and short-term students in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre

If you have immigration queries related to coronavirus, please email the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre.Email: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk. Your email must be in English or Welsh.

Published 3 March 2021

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