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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 2020/2021. Sponsored students are also able to start their course by distance learning if necessary, provided they intend to come to the UK and study on campus when it is possible to do so. 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 2020/2021 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:

    • Our “Your responsibilities as a sponsored student” immigration page to find out what you’ll need to do if you are able to study remotely overseas in 2020/2021. At the bottom of this section, you’ll find information about travelling home to study the rest of the term remotely from overseas.
  • 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.

    UKCISA have published guidance on what to do if you cannot travel to the UK during the validity of your entry clearance vignette, please read the information included under the heading “Immigration permission granted, but you cannot travel to the UK”.

    The standard process for replacing an entry clearance vignette is outlined on UKCISA’s webpage (under the heading 30 day vignette expired outside the UK) and a charge is payable for this.

    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. The Home Office have told institutions that it will not be possible for Tier4/Student visa holders to study via distance learning after 27 September 2021 so if your department allows you to continue to study your course remotely after that date we will withdraw our sponsorship and your visa or CAS would be cancelled. Please contact our International Services Team if it is agreed that you can complete your course remotely from overseas.

EEA/Swiss students

Keep informed and read the latest guidance from UKCISA regarding Brexit including their short videos.

If you arrived in the UK before 11pm 31 December 2020 and you are planning to stay in the UK beyond 30 June 2021, it’s important you apply to the EU Settlement Scheme before 1 July 2021 if you are eligible. If you don’t you won’t have permission to study in the UK beyond that date. If you have been absent from the UK for a period of time we recommend you read the UKCISA guidance so you can find out what impact this may have on your eligibility/application. If you arrive in the UK on or after 1 January 2021 and don’t have settlement, you’ll need to apply for a visa to study with us.

Our advisers are only authorised to provide guidance about the UK’s Student Immigration Rules so we can’t answer your questions about this scheme. However, there is information on our immigration pages with links to online guidance from reputable sources and contact details for those that offer further guidance.

Free Webinar session for Essex students 26 May 2021: EU Students and the Settlement Scheme

We have arranged for Eversheds Sutherland to host a live webinar session via Zoom on 26 May 2021 (1 – 2pm), they’ll outline everything you might need to know about the EU Settlement Scheme including: who is eligible to apply, how to complete the application and, the impact any absences you may have had from the UK as a result of the COVID pandemic may have on your eligibility to apply.

Don’t worry if you are unable to attend the webinar when this goes out live on 26 May. The session will be recorded and uploaded to this webpage as soon as possible after this has taken place. This will also allow you to re-watch the webinar again or revisit any of the content as you need to.

This webinar is for University of Essex students only so you must use your University email address when signing up to attend.

Sign up now to book your place by emailing Eversheds with the following details:

Email from your email address, state the following and include any questions you have about the EU Settlement Scheme that you’d like answered during the webinar:

My full name is ____________________ and I would like to register my place for the webinar session EU Students and the Settlement Scheme – what you need to know at 1pm – 2pm on 26 May 2021.

Send the email to

After you’ve sent your email, joining instructions for the session will be emailed to you by Eversheds so make sure you check your junk folder.

Webinar bookings can only be made direct with Eversheds so please do not contact our International Services team to book or to submit your questions.

If you require any further information about the webinar, please do not hesitate to contact Carolyne Bevis, Client Services Manager, Eversheds Sutherland International LLP

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 up to 16 weeks.

Graduate route

This new post-study work route enables students who have studied their Essex degree course with student immigration permission (Tier 4/Student route) and completed a relevant degree to apply for permission to stay in the UK for 2 years (3 for PhD). The route will be launched on the 1 July 2021. More information is available from UKCISA and this will be updated when the rules and guidance are published, no further advice can be given until then.

  • I’m studying remotely overseas, when do I have to be back in the UK?

    The Home Office have advised that to meet the UK residence requirements, eligible students must be in the UK by a specified date, depending on your course and circumstances. More information is available from UKCISA. You can contact their student advice line if you have any questions

  • I’m thinking of changing my course, will I be eligible to apply?

    Yes, provided you change to a course that is allowed within the Home Office Student rules and guidance. When you submit your change of course request this will be considered by the International Services Team and you will be given advice when you receive the outcome from the Student Progress Team.

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.

  • 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.