As a Tier 4 sponsor Ashbourne will continue to sponsor existing Tier 4 students who are carrying on their studies at the college through distance learning, whether they are in the UK or another country.
Tier 4 students are not normally permitted to undertake distance learning courses, however, due to the current exceptional circumstances, the UK Home Office will not consider it a breach of sponsor duties to offer distance learning to existing Tier 4 students in the UK or who have chosen to return overseas but wish to continue their current studies.
New international students who have been issued a Tier 4 Visa but have been unable to travel to the UK are permitted to undertake distance learning, and sponsorship does not need to be withdrawn.
New international students who have not yet applied for a Visa but wish to commence a course by distance learning do not need to travel to the UK to do so and therefore do not require sponsorship under Tier 4.
Students accessing courses below degree level via distance learning are not required to meet the 15 hours study per week to be considered full-time, if the sponsor is unable to provide sufficient tuition during this period. Ashbourne will make all efforts to provide the stipulated number of hours of teaching where possible.
Validity of CAS (confirmation of acceptance for studies) that has already been issued
Tier 4 Visa applications can still be made using CAS that were previously issued. The start date for the course may now be later than that stated on the CAS for the original course or the CAS may have expired. The UK Home Office will take a pragmatic approach to considering applications to study courses with significantly different start dates to those stated on CAS or expired CAS.
Where a CAS has become invalid because it has expired, or was marked as ‘used’ in an application and the student was unable to travel due to Covid-19, the Home Office will consider exceptionally accepting that CAS with a new Visa application on a case by case basis. The CAS will be accepted if the caseworker is satisfied that the reason the student could not previously use it in an application or travel to the UK was due to Covid-19.
Extending a Tier 4 Visa
Students whose leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020, who would otherwise be unable to extend in country, will be able to exceptionally apply for further leave within the UK.
To be granted further leave to complete an existing course, or to begin a new course, students must still meet all other requirements of Tier 4, including academic progression and maintenance requirements.
This means that students unable to complete their course of study within the current period of leave due to Covid-19 will be able to apply in country to complete that course. Students who need to repeat a year, retake a module or resit an exam are exempt from demonstrating academic progression as would normally be the case for those applying in the UK. Further to this exemption, students who otherwise need more time to complete a course as a result of Covid-19 will be exempt from demonstrating academic progression, e.g. where a sponsor suspends studies for the duration of any social distancing measures.
Students applying to study a new course can commence study at Ashbourne from the date of the application. Ashbourne is obliged to end the sponsorship and teaching of the student if the UK Home Office ultimately refuses the application.
Tier 4 students who would normally be subject to police registration who are extending their leave in the UK during the period in which the Government advises not the leave home unless it is essential to do so, are not required to register with their local police force after leave is granted, or if any other change of circumstances that normally requires police to be notified applies. This policy is applicable to students applying from 21 March 2020 whilst social distancing restrictions are in place. Such students must register with the police or update their information once social distancing measures are lifted.
Students who have already registered with the police and are making a new application in the UK should submit their Police Registration Certificate along with any other documents in support of their application as normal.
The maximum length of time that a Tier 4 (General) student can be granted leave as a student for will remain the same. However, discretion may be applied by UKVI in future where any period of leave that would cause someone to exceed the limit will do so as a result of Covid-19.
The Graduate route is still scheduled to be launched in summer 2021, as previously announced. Further information about the route will be published in due course
Visa Application Centres (VACs) closures and Secure English Language Test (SELT) providers overseas
Many UK Visa Application Centres are closed or offering limited services. For advice on Visa services in your country, contact:
TLS contact if you are in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East
VFS global for all other countries
In some areas the UK cannot send Visa vignettes across some borders and routes due to border restrictions.
If you have an appointment and the VAC is now closed, you’ll be contacted and told your appointment will not take place.
English Testing Centres are also affected. Visit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)’s website or contact your test centre for more information.
These concessions apply until 31st July, by which date they will be reviewed by the UK Home Office.