Below you will find a list of the most recent updates from the Home Office or the VISA Team in relation to COVID-19.

This page is updated with news which the VISA Team has deemed to be relevant to international students. Please continue to check the following webpage for the most up to date information from the University regarding Coronavirus: Update on Coronavirus COVID-19 information and advice.  Please also check The NHS Inform website on a regular basis for further updates.

    • 26 May 2020 - The Home Office have updated the Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for UK Visa applicants and temporary visa residents with includes the following key changes:
    • Some UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) will reopen for existing customers on 1 June 2020. You can check which UKVCAS centres are open.
    • Some UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) are resuming services, where local restrictions allow. For updates to the status of VACs in your country, contact TLS contact if you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East and VFS global for all other countries.
    • Ongoing global restrictions mean some UKVI services will remain closed. Contact your local VAC to find out the latest status. Where services are resuming, existing customers will be contacted.
    • Some English Testing Centres are also resuming services. Visit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)’s website, the Pearson Test of English website or the LanguageCert website or contact your test centre for more information on where we are reopening and how you can book your Secure English Language Test.
    • The link to cancel (withdraw) an application for a visa, visa extension or citizenship has been updated. Please see the process for this here. If you wish to do this, please contact a VISA Advisor firstly for assistance on visa@gcu.ac.uk.

Some frontline health workers and their families will get their visas automatically extended because of coronavirus. There are also changes to the conditions of visas for some frontline health workers. These changes will apply to customers if they work for the NHS or independent health and care providers as a:

o biochemist
o biological scientist
o dental practitioner
o health professional
o medical practitioner
o medical radiographer
o midwife
o nurse
o occupational therapist
o ophthalmologist
o paramedic
o pharmacist
o physiotherapist
o podiatrist
o psychologist
o social worker
o speech and language therapist

Individual’s should check with their employer if they are not sure whether they work in an eligible profession.
Individuals can work at any NHS hospital during the coronavirus outbreak if their sponsor (GCU) can maintain their sponsorship duties.
The individual’s sponsor (GCU) will not need to notify UKVI of the change in their place of work.

  • There is no longer a limit on the number of hours an individual can work or volunteer each week if they work for the NHS as a doctor, nurse of paramedic and they are a:

o Tier 4 student
o Tier 2 worker and their NHS job is a second job
o visiting academic researcher
o holder of a short-term visa and are permitted to volunteer


• If an individual is a pre-registration nurse currently in the UK, the deadline for them to sit the Occupational Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) has been extended to 31 December 2020.
• If individuals do not pass on the first attempt they will have until 31 May 2021 to pass the exam.

  • GCU do not need to report student or employee absences related to coronavirus or withdraw sponsorship if a student is unable to attend for more than 60 days an employee is absent from work without pay for more than 4 weeks due to COVID-19.

Tier 4 - Distance learning:
• GCU can continue to sponsor existing Tier 4 students who are continuing their studies through distance learning, whether they are in the UK or another country.
• If a student has permanently withdrawn from their studies, or deferred their studies for reasons which are not related to COVID-19, GCU must report this to the Home Office as usual.
• GCU do not need to withdraw sponsorship for new students who have been issued a Tier 4 visa but are distance learning because they have been unable
to travel to the UK.
• New international students who have not yet applied for a visa but want to start a course by distance learning do not require sponsorship under Tier 4. This is because they do not need to travel to the UK.
• GCU do not need to tell the Home Office when students have moved to distance learning.
• These arrangements will apply until 31 July, when they will be reviewed.

  • For those who have been issued a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) or a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) and have  not yet applied for a visa: The employee or student will still be able to apply for a visa. The start date for the course or employment stated on the CoS or CAS may have changed. The Home Office will not automatically refuse such cases. For example, they may accept a CoS or CAS if they have become invalid because the employee or student was unable to travel as a result of coronavirus. The Home Office will consider this on a case by case basis.
  • Students who are waiting for their Tier 4 visa application to be decided may start their studies in certain circumstances prior to receiving a decision on their visa application. Please contact the VISA Team for further information on this.
  • If an individual’s 30 day visa to travel to the UK for work, study or to join family has expired, or is about to expire, individuals can request a replacement visa with revised validity dates free of charge until the end of this year. To make a request, individual’s should contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team and include their name, nationality, date of birth and their GWF reference number with ‘REPLACEMENT 30 DAY VISA’ in the subject line. If they have already contacted the team about this, please let the team know in the email. Individuals will be contacted when our VACs reopen to arrange for a replacement visa to be endorsed in their passport. Individuals will not be penalised for being unable collect their BRP while coronavirus measures are in place. This process will be in place until the end of 2020.
  • UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has set up a dedicated team for customers with immigration queries related to coronavirus, including questions about urgent, compelling, compassionate cases. For more information visit: Gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents

You can keep up to date on any changes here

  • 22 May 2020 - The Home Office have updated the Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for UK Visa applicants and temporary visa residents advising that visa extensions for those unable to leave the UK because of coronavirus have been extended to 31 July 2020. Please note, you must request an extension by updating your records with the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) if your visa is expiring and you cannot leave the UK at present but are not planning to stay in the UK in the long term.
  • 21 May 2020 - The VISA Team are asking all international students or workers on the following visa types to keep the VISA Team updated with any travel plans outside of UK during the COVID-19 outbreak. This is following the recent government announcement that anyone arriving in UK will now likely be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. The VISA Team are working closely with all Schools across GCU to help minimise impact to our students during this time. If you are currently here at GCU on a Tier 1, Tier 4, Tier 2, Tier 5, or Short-Term Study visa, please complete this form, before sending the completed form via email to visa@gcu.ac.uk. 
  • 15 May 2020 -The Home Office now send out an automated email to some applicants upon submission of a valid visa application from within the UK. This email from the Home Office assures applicants who have submitted a valid visa application prior to their current grant of leave expiring that they do not need to be concerned about their immigration status whilst their visa application is in progress and whilst the Biometric Enrolment Centres remain closed due to COVID-19. This advice only applies to those who receive it via email, and eligible applicants must submit their valid visa extension applications prior to their visa expiry date if they are extending your visa in the UK. Please email visa@gcu.ac.uk if you have any questions. 
  • 14 May 2020 - The Home Office have begun to email some in-country visa applicants who have recently submitted visa applications, to request their visa documents are sent via email instead of being uploaded to UKVCAS. If this applies to you and you have received this email, please contact us on visa@gcu.ac.uk for assistance. 
  • 10th May 2020 -  The government announced on Sunday 10th May that people arriving into the UK from overseas will soon need to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. The VISA Team understands that some international students have already travelled back home in light of COVID-19, and some are in UK but intend to travel home soon. GCU-sponsored international students who intend on travelling during this time must inform the VISA Team to receive relevant support by completing this form and sending this to visa@gcu.ac.uk - COVID-19 International Student Travel Form
  • 22 April 2020 - News update RE ATAS Clearance: The Home Office have advised it is not currently possible to directly apply to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for a new ATAS certificate due to current circumstances. Read more here.
  • 3rd April 2020 -  The Home Office and UKVI published new guidance in relation to Coronavirus (COVID-19) for Tier 2, 4 and 5 visa sponsors on 27th March 2020 (updated on 3rd April 2020). The VISA Team have reviewed this guidance to understand how the changes will impact GCU-sponsored Tier 4 students, Tier 2 employees, and Tier 5 temporary workers. The VISA Team and GCU are working hard to ensure all international students and employees are supported throughout this challenging time. Information on the changes is available on our landing pages for each visa type. 
  • 1st April 2020 - RE BRP deliveries: In order to improve social distancing measures for TNT delivery drivers the Home Office have agreed to implement the following new measures in response to Covid-19 with immediate effect.
    1. Where possible the BRP package will be posted through the front door of the appropriate address, or delivered to the appropriate post room for that business or organisation;
    2. Suspended the requirement of a signature and provision of identification on delivery;
  1. A photograph of the front door or location of delivery will be taken. 

If you are awaiting delivery of your BRP please contact VISA on visa@gcu.ac.uk. 

  • 24 March 2020 - The government have released advice for visa customers and applicants in the UK, visa customers outside of the UK and British nationals overseas who need to apply for a passport affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus. You can view this guidance here. UKCISA have also produced helpful guidance for international students in UK in relation to COVID-19