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Studying remotely overseas – sponsored students (student visa)

The Home Office introduced temporary Covid-19 concessions to the immigration rules which enable sponsored students to study via blended learning in 2021/2022. Sponsored students are also able to start their course by distance learning overseas if they cannot travel to the UK, provided they come to the UK and study on campus by 6 April 2022 at the latest. It is not possible to study remotely in the UK from 27 September 2021 so if you are in the UK you must be attending all on campus learning events and meetings in person, failure to attend in person will mean we have to withdraw our sponsorship and you’ll have to leave the UK. If you cannot travel to the UK for the start of the 2021/22 academic year you will need to make a request to study remotely overseas, this will be considered by your department in the first instance and by the International Services Team if you are requesting to study remotely after 6/4/2022. More information can be found on the University website and for students with or needing a Student visa on our Your responsibilities page.

Whether you are distance learning overseas initially or studying on campus via blended learning, we are required to monitor your engagement and attendance and withdraw our sponsorship if you aren’t engaging with your studies. If you are interested in applying to the new Graduate route when you complete your course, please be aware that the Home Office have stated that to be eligible students must be in the UK by a specified date, depending on your course and circumstances.

As a Student Sponsor the University must ensure that we are following the sponsor guidance and are applying the relevant concessions correctly. We must record on a student file when we have applied a concession, this could be on our student database or on a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) that we issue to eligible students to apply for Tier 4/Student permission.


  • When will the concessions be removed?

    The concessions are temporary, some sections are time limited. The concessions have changed several times since they were introduced and will be removed when the Home Office consider them no longer necessary.

  • Studying at Essex in 2021/2022 and COVID-19

    To find out more about studying with us read the University’s extensive COVID-19 guidance:

    You’ll find guidance in these pages for Non-UK nationals, if you’ve been issued with an Essex CAS, Tier 4 or Student visa please also read:

  • My entry clearance expires before I am due to travel to the UK, what should I do?

    If you have already obtained your Tier 4/Student entry clearance vignette (sticker in your passport) but won’t be travelling into the UK until after the expiry date, do not travel until you have applied for and been issued with a new entry clearance vignette. Please read the UKCISA guidance under the ’90 day vignette’ section.

    Don’t worry about collecting your BRP, it will still be valid and available for you to collect when you arrive in the UK from the place you designated, read our website for more information about collecting your BRP if you’ve chosen to have it delivered to the University of Essex, Tier 4 Compliance Team.

  • Can I continue to study overseas in the next academic year (2021/2022)?

    The University expects to return to in person teaching from the start of the next academic year but if you are unable to travel to the UK due to restrictions you can request to start your course remotely from overseas. If you request to study remotely beyond 6 April 2022, we will not be able to sponsor you for a student visa until the start of the next academic year. You’ll receive immigration advice from the International Services Team when you submit your Remote Study Request Form online and before your request is approved.

EU, EEA and Swiss students

Now that the UK has left the EU it’s important that you ensure you have the right immigration permission to stay in or re-enter the UK. You’ll need to provide proof of your immigration status to us to continue your course at the start of the 2021/2022 academic year. If you are an Irish national, you have the right to live in the UK and won’t need to apply for immigration permission.

If you are overseas and have made an application for settlement and not had the outcome, we recommend you don’t travel to the UK until you are granted pre-settled or settled status and request to study remotely from overseas. If you have applied for a Student visa, don’t travel until it is granted and don’t try to enter the UK before the date it is ‘valid from’, if you do you’ll be a visitor and will have to re-enter the UK before you can study in the UK.

More information is available on our immigration home page and our Registration pages about what you’ll need to complete your right to study checks/registration.

BRP (Biometric Residence Permit) collection and problems – sponsored students (student visa)

Read our Your BRP page to find out all you need to know about your Biometric Residence Permit, including:

  • How to arrange to collect your BRP
  • What to do if you’ve lost your BRP
  • Reporting an error on your BRP to the Home Office

Please be aware that Student BRP’s do not contain a National Insurance (NI) number, read the government webpages to find out how to request one and be aware that it can take some time.

Graduate route

This new post-study work route enables eligible graduates who have valid student immigration permission to apply for permission to stay in the UK for 2 years if they complete a Masters/Bachelor’s or for 3 years if they complete a PhD. You can only have Graduate route permission once and must meet all requirements of the Immigration Rules and guidance. Study is restricted to those with Graduate route permission and if you want to carry onto further study with us, you’ll need to request a new CAS and if eligible, apply for a new Student visa instead.

Please be aware that, repeat study or reassessment may mean that you cannot successfully complete your course by the date your student visa expires and you may not be eligible to apply. You may also not be eligible to apply for a CAS to extend your Student immigration permission if you aren’t required to attend in person teaching events or exams at your campus.

Once you’ve be granted your Graduate immigration permission you’ll be able to work with less restrictions but until then are still subject to the work conditions as a Tier 4/Student and must ensure you do not start work that isn’t allowed, for instance a full-time permanent position.

Masters’ students who started in October 2020 and whose student visa expires in November 2021: If you applied for your student visa on or after 5 October 2020, you will have been given a wrap up period of +2 months after the CAS course end date by the UKVI, this is correct and is in line with the Student Immigration Rules. Unfortunately, this means that there is very little time between the release of your final results and the expiry date of your visa, your department/school are working hard to ensure that a special early exam board is held and aim to release results by 8 November 2021 at the latest and should have been in contact with you. If you haven’t heard from your department/school about this, we recommend you contact them if you would like to apply for permission to stay under the Graduate route. If you fail elements of your course and do not successfully complete, you will have to leave the UK by the date your visa expires and if you have reassessment or repeats that require your attendance in person request a new CAS to return to your campus later. if you aren’t required to attend in person teaching/exams in person on your campus you won’t meet the requirements to be sponsored for a Student visa.

More information about the Graduate Immigration Rules and requirements is available from UKCISA and you can find out about the University processes for reporting successful completion on our working after studies immigration page.Our advisers are only able to offer immigration advice to students regarding the UK’s Student Immigration Rules as they apply to students and aren’t authorised to provide advice about other categories of the Immigration Rules.

CAS requests

If you have been studying overseas and you’ve requested a CAS to return to the UK for the 2021/2022 academic year, please be advised that we are working as quickly as we can to issue the CAS to you. Due to the number of students who studied remotely overseas last year we have a much larger number of CAS to produce than ever before and so it is taking us much longer than we’d like. If you started your course in 2020/2021 both Admissions and the International Services Team have checks to do so the process also takes longer. We apologise for the delay and understand you are frustrated and anxious but we’d ask that you do not chase us as this increases our workload and the time it takes for us to produce CAS. As soon as your CAS is ready we will let you know and if you can’t travel to the UK by the start of term because of the delay or because of other travel restrictions we recommend you submit a request to start the 2021/2022 academic year remotely from overseas once you are registered online.

Read our CAS page for more information and our applying for a visa section before applying for your Student visa.

Exam Board Decisions – sponsored students (student visa)

If you need to take reassessment or repeat part of your course, please be aware that sponsored students with a Tier 4/Student visa, you may not be able to take all the options offered due to the Immigration Rules. The Exam Boards are not aware of your personal details, this includes your immigration status and there are additional Home Office restrictions regarding repeat study, academic progression and the total amount of time you can spend studying in the UK. You can find out more about the student visa restrictions and repeat study our website.

If you are concerned that you will need more than 5 years total visa time to take the option you’d like to, it’s your responsibility to contact our International Services team before you make your choice. Please be aware that your eligibility for further sponsorship will be assessed at the time of your CAS request in line with the immigration rules and guidance. If you choose to repeat parts of your course without reading our published information and requesting further guidance from our International Services team first, there is a risk that you won’t be eligible for our immigration sponsorship in future and you won’t be able to complete your course.

Working in the UK - sponsored students (student visa)

If you have a Tier 4 or Student visa the type of work you can do and hours you can work are restricted. This is a condition of your permission and is complex and it is important you understand exactly what you are allowed to do and when, before you start working. Read the UKCISA information, including their blog for more information.

The condition that allows you the right to work is dependent on you studying a full-time course in the UK. Therefore, if for any reason you stop studying (other than successfully completing the course your CAS was issued for) you should not work at all and if you have been working must stop work immediately.

If you’ve made an application for permission to stay in the UK under the Graduate route your Tier 4/Student work conditions apply until you are granted your Graduate immigration permission, you can work unrestricted hours if we have told you we have reported your successfully completion to the Home Office but must ensure the type of work you do is allowed. For instance, you won’t be able to take a full time permanent position until you have been granted your Graduate route permission.

  • Can I work full time in the summer vacation?

    You must check exactly what the University considers to be your ‘term-time’ and when you are officially on ‘vacation’ and should not rely on the University’s key dates web pages as only the standard UG terms are shown. The majority of Postgraduate students are considered to be studying full time during the summer vacation and you should only work a maximum of the hours stated on your visa each week. PhD students do not have any University vacation periods, you must only ever work the maximum hours stated on your visa each week until you have completed your PhD and submitted your thesis to the research repository.

  • How do I get a letter that confirms my term dates?

    When you have an offer of employment, contact our International Services Team to ask for confirmation of your official term and vacation dates. The right to work guidance for employers does not state that you need a letter on letter headed paper so the information will be sent to you via email. If you don’t have an employer yet please wait and ask when you have secured employment.

  • Can I work full time after I’ve finished my course?

    If you successfully complete your course by the end date on the CAS that you used to make your student visa application, you can start working full time hours as this is considered to be a vacation for you. You can’t work full time before the end date on your CAS. You are not allowed to do certain types of work as a sponsored student, this applies until your visa expiry date or you are issued with another type of immigration permission.

    If your course is extended beyond the course end date on the CAS you used to obtain your visa, you are still considered to be studying full-time and you should only work the hours stated on your visa in each week until you have finished all elements of your course.

  • What kind of work can I do?

    You can work alongside your studies to supplement your income but must not be relying upon working to pay your living expenses and tuition fees, as a sponsored student you will have had to show you have enough money to support yourself financially throughout your course. You can work part time for an employer but you are not allowed to do the following types of work, including as a work placement:

    • be self-employed or engage in business activity
    • be employed as a professional sportsperson including as a sports coach
    • be employed as a professional entertainer
    • take a permanent full-time job (except as an elected SU sabbatical officer)
    • work as a doctor or dentist in training, unless you are on the foundation programme (doesn’t apply to those who applied for Student permission on or after 1 December 2020)

    Before you take a job, make sure you read the UKCISA information, including their blog which tells you much more about the types of work you can or can’t do.

Registering with the Police

If your entry clearance vignette states you need to register with the Police and you haven’t yet, you will need to book an appointment as soon as possible. You’ll also need an appointment to update your certificate if you already have one and you have extended your visa or any of the details have changed. If you live in Essex you’ll need to book an appointment via the Essex Police website and create an account first if you don’t already have one.

Documents for UK immigration purposes

Our International Services team can produce the following documents for UK immigration purposes only:

  • CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) for sponsored students (student visa) continuing their course.
  • An email for an employer detailing term and vacation dates for those with a student visa.
  • A letter to apply for a new ATAS certificate to continue your course.
  • A "highly likely" to pass letter for Postgraduate students with a student visa going to study at another institution.
  • A letter for eligible sponsored students (student visa) to apply to the Skilled Worker route 3 months prior to completing their course.

Fill in our immigration enquiry form for current Essex students and let us know in the "Something else" section which of these documents you require. We’ll need your employers name, if it’s for employment purposes. We can’t provide any other documents, see the Student Services Hub page for information about ordering documentation for other purposes.