Students Staff

Latest news

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - immigration concerns

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 can also start their course by distance learning if necessary, provided they intend to come to the UK and study on campus as soon as 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 6 April 2021 and study your last semester inside the UK.

If you are in the final year of your course or are coming to study a new course that will finish in 2021, you will need to arrive in the UK to study on campus by 6 April 2021. If you are unable to come to the UK by then we won’t be able to sponsor you and you’ll have to complete your course via distance learning overseas if this is possible. If you have been issued with a Tier 4 or Student visa it will be cancelled by the Home Office.

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 next year 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”. UKCISA recommend that you:

    We do not know if you will be issued with a replacement vignette free of charge if you already have a 90 day entry clearance vignette, this is because the Home Office have stated in their Covid advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents that this free replacement is for those who were issued with a 30 day vignette.

    If you can’t obtain a free replacement vignette, 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. UKCISA have asked the Home Office if the free replacement applies to those issued with a 90 day vignette and as soon as they receive a response will publish additional guidance on their COVID-19 webpage.

    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.

Students with a Tier 4/Student visa

Exam Board Decisions

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 Tier 4 restrictions and repeat study on 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

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 our website 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.

Your term time depends on your course, you must check exactly what the University considers to be your ‘term-time’ and when you are officially on ‘vacation’. Do not rely on the University’s key dates web pages as only the standard UG terms are shown, many of our courses have non-standard term dates. Masters students are usually studying during the summer vacation and PhD students do not have vacation periods. At your request, our team can produce an email for you to provide to your employer that shows your official term dates.

If you successfully complete your course by the end date on the CAS that you used to make your visa application, you can start working full time hours as this is considered to be a vacation for you. However, the type of work you are allowed to do is still restricted. If your course is extended beyond the course end date on the CAS you used to obtain your visa, you are still be considered to be studying full-time and you should only work the hours stated on your visa in each week.

Find more information about working in the UK as a sponsored student

EEA/Swiss students

Keep informed and read the latest guidance from UKCISA regarding Brexit including their short videos. If you are starting a course with us in 2020/2021 we recommend you arrive in the UK before the 31 December 2020 and apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. If you don’t have settlement rights and arrive in the UK on or after 1 January 2021 you’ll need to apply for a visa under the new Student Immigration Rules.

  • EU Settlement Scheme

    EU Settlement Scheme

    If you are a European or Swiss national, living in the UK before the 31 December 2020 you can apply for settlement via the EU Settlement Scheme. If eligible, you will be granted pre-settled or settled status, depending how long you can prove you’ve been in the UK for. You must apply by 31 June 2021 to remain in the UK.

    Find out more about the scheme on the UKCISA website and contact their advice line if you have any questions.

Student Immigration Rules

The UK’s Immigration Rules have changed for students and the Student route has replaced Tier 4 (General). The Student route will also apply to EEA/Swiss nationals who don’t have settlement rights and will arrive on or after 1 January 2021, to study for more than 6 months. To apply under the Student rules, you will still need a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) from the University. Please visit the UKCISA website for more information about applying for a Student visa under the new rules. We are currently working on updating our webpages.

Non-EEA/Swiss nationals

If you have a valid University of Essex CAS and will be submitting your visa application online in the UK or overseas;

  • From the 5 October 2020 - you will be applying under the Student rules and can find information and guidance on the government website and from UKCISA who are currently updating their website.

EEA/Swiss nationals

  • If you will arrive in the UK by 11pm (UK time) on the 31 December 2020 - you will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for settled status by the deadline and should not need a visa. Please read the UKCISA guidance for EEA/Swiss nationals which includes information about the EU Settlement Scheme. You should contact UKCISA’s student advice line if you have any questions as our advisers aren’t able to offer advice about applications for settlement in the UK.
  • If you will arrive in the UK on or after 1 January 2021 and don’t have settlement rights – you will need to request a CAS and should be eligible to apply under the Student rules. You can find information and guidance on the government website and from UKCISA.

We are working hard to update our immigration pages. Immigration advice and guidance is regulated, our staff need to be trained in the new rules once the government have published all the guidance in order to be competent to update our website and offer tailored advice. The introduction of the new rules co-insides with the start of the Autumn term so it may take a while for our advisers to be able to offer tailored advice and guidance and we may need to refer you to the UKCISA student advice line in the meantime.

New Graduate route announced to apply from the Summer of 2021

There will be a new post-study work route for those who complete a relevant degree inside the UK, this will enable graduates who complete their course from the summer of 2021 to remain in the UK to work or seek work. Those who complete a PhD will be able to stay for up to 3 years whilst others will be able to stay for up to 2 years. The Home Office have advised that to be eligible students must be in the UK by 6 April 2021 and study their last semester inside the UK.

During recent briefings for institutions the Home Office have indicated that students will need to have completed the course their CAS was issued for, we’ll know more when the rules and guidance are released in the Spring of 2021 but if this is the case students who change their course after their CAS has been used to make a visa application may not be eligible to apply.

More information is available from UKCISA.