UKVI temporary guidance during COVID-19 – what this means for you

UKVI published temporary guidance on 17 April 2020 which includes changes to their existing guidance which may affect the usual advice you would be given. We have summarised what these changes mean in the different subject areas below. This was updated most recently on 02 March 2022.


Academic progression

Continuing students

If you are a continuing student, it may still be possible for you to submit a successful Student visa application inside the UK if:

  • You are studying below PhD level; and
  • You do not meet any of the usual exemptions to the academic progression rules (eg repeating a module or continuing on the PhD course you have been studying); and
  • You cannot complete your course within your current visa; and
  • The start date of your course was before 27 September 2021

The visa application will rely on UKVI accepting the evidence of why you cannot leave the UK in order to be successful under this concession.

If you are changing to a new course at the same level and need to apply for a new visa before you can change course, we would still advise you to apply for your visa from outside the UK where possible. If you cannot leave the UK to do this, please contact International Student Support.

This guidance is only temporary, and it is not clear how long it will apply for. So we do not know if it will help you if you submit your visa application after the end date of this guidance. If you are outside the UK, you may wish to apply for a new visa instead of using your existing visa to return to the UK.

Applying for a Visa outside the UK

Most Visa Application Centres (VACs) overseas are now resuming services where local restrictions allow, whilst others remain closed and unable to issue visas for travel to the UK. You can check the service where you live:

  • If you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East, check: TLS contact 
  • For all other countries, check: VFS global 

If your 90-day travel vignette for the UK has expired, you will need to apply for a vignette transfer and pay an application fee of £154.

You won’t be penalised for being unable to collect your BRP in the UK while coronavirus measures are in place.

For more guidance about your BRP card, see the following webpage: 

Remote learning & Student visas

The University can no longer sponsor you under the Student visa system if you are studying your course remotely (also known as ‘distance learning’).

If you have a CAS or a Student or Tier 4 visa, you must now be registered on and attending your course in person in Sheffield, unless certain circumstances apply to you. The following link has more information on this.

Change of Study Location Information

Exceptional Assurance

UKVI have confirmed that it is no longer possible to apply for 'Exceptional Assurance'. The following link has confirmation of this from UKVI:

Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents

Graduate Immigration Route

We understand that any period of distance learning overseas or inside the UK between 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021 and/or any period of distance learning that took place overseas between 27 September 2021 and 30 June 2022  will not count against you when applying for a Graduate visa.

Detailed information on COVID-19 concessions UKVI have introduced for the Graduate visa can be found at our Graduate visa page:

Time limits on Tier 4 study

UKVI have confirmed there will be no extensions to the normal time limits for study on a Student or Tier 4 visa. However, if you have had a leave of absence due to Covid-19 that will cause you to exceed your time limit, UKVI have indicated that they may apply discretion in the future.

If your next visa application would cause you to go over your time limit, you should contact International Student Support for advice.

Working in the UK

If you have a Student or Tier 4 visa which allows you to do some work (ie 10 or 20 hours per week in term time) and if you are employed by an NHS trust within any of the professions listed below, you will not be restricted to 20 hours work per week during term time and you may work without limit on the number of hours:

  • Biochemist
  • Biological scientist
  • Dental practitioner
  • Health professional
  • Medical practitioner
  • Medical radiographer
  • Midwife
  • Nurse
  • Occupational therapist
  • Ophthalmologist
  • Paramedic
  • Pharmacist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Podiatrist
  • Psychologist
  • Social worker
  • Speech and language therapist
  • Therapy professional

You must still be studying in order to be eligible to do this. For example, if you’re on a leave of absence from your course you can’t work full time during term-time, even in one of the occupations listed above.

See also:

UKVI Temporary Guidance on COVID-19 (PDF, 275KB)

UKVI Advice For Visa Applicants & Temporary UK Residents

COVID-19 FAQs For Current Students