Here 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.


News Update - 15th February 2021: The Scottish government has announced new rules for international arrivals, aimed at helping to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The new rules come into force from Monday, 15th February. Here is a quick summary of what you need to know:

  • All incoming passengers have to fill in a passenger locator form before they arrive, listing their contact details, departure country and their UK address
  • You will need to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to be allowed entry. The test must have been taken in the 72 hours before travelling
  • You will still need to quarantine for a period of 10 days in hotel accommodation (called ‘managed isolation’)
  • All international travellers arriving directly into Scotland will have to go into managed isolation
  • Travellers should book this online and 1300 rooms near Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports have been secured. Please go here to book:  https://quarantinehotelbookings.ctmportal.co.uk
  • This accommodation will cost £1750 for each traveller, which includes food and two tests, on days 2 and 8 of quarantine.

This applies to students travelling to Scotland. For London students, please check the UK Government arrival advice.

If you have any queries regarding this, please contact studentsupport@gcu.ac.uk or visa@gcu.ac.uk for visa specific enquiries.

Scottish Government advice for students travelling to Scotland February 2021 update

The Scottish government has announced new rules for international arrivals, aimed at helping to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The new rules come into force from Monday, 15th February. Here is a quick summary of what you need to know:

  • All incoming passengers have to fill in a passenger locator form before they arrive, listing their contact details, departure country and their UK address
  • You will need to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to be allowed entry. The test must have been taken in the 72 hours before travelling
  • You will still need to quarantine for a period of 10 days in hotel accommodation (called ‘managed isolation’)
  • All international travellers arriving directly into Scotland will have to go into managed isolation
  • Travellers should book this online and 1300 rooms near Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports have been secured. Please go here to book:  https://quarantinehotelbookings.ctmportal.co.uk
  • This accommodation will cost £1750 for each traveller, which includes food and two tests, on days 2 and 8 of quarantine.

 If you have any queries regarding this, please contact studentsupport@gcu.ac.uk or visa@gcu.ac.uk.

To find out more please head to the "Safe Return to Campus" page: 

https://www.gcu.ac.uk/student/coronavirusuptodateinformation/safereturntocampus/

International student travel during COVID-19

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. 

BRP Collections for students arriving outside UK

You must usually do this before the vignette sticker in your travel document expires or within 10 days of arriving in the UK, whichever is later.

Do not collect your BRP if you’re self-isolating because of coronavirus (COVID-19). The Post Office will keep your BRP for 60 days. Collect it when you finish self-isolating.

Check your decision letter. It will tell you to collect your BRP from a named Post Office branch.

You must be over 18 to collect a BRP.

If your Post Office branch is closed because of coronavirus (COVID-19), your BRP will be stored safely until it reopens. Contact your Post Office for more information.

Home Office updates on COVID-19 concessions - Feb 2021
  • 15 February 2021: Home Office added new information under "New coronavirus testing and quarantine rules" section.

The full guidance is available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents 

Please contact visa@gcu.ac.uk if you have any questions.

Home Office updates on COVID-19 concessions - Jan 2021
  1. 27 January 2021

    Home Office updated 'If you're outside the UK' section to include information about applying for a visa to the UK.

  2. 27 January 2021

    The concessions to the family and private life section have been extended until 31 May 2021.

  3. 18 January 2021

    Home Office updated content under 'If you intend to stay in the UK' section.

  4. 17 January 2021

    Home Office updated  exceptional assurance visa expiry dates to 1 January 2021 and 28 February 2021.

  5. 12 January 2021

    Home Office added information for those outside the UK whose leave has expired before they are able to return to the UK and updated information referring to the free replacement of expired vignettes.

     

    The full guidance is available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents

    Please contact visa@gcu.ac.uk if you have any questions.

COVID-19 information for sponsored students

In March 2020, the government released new guidance for Tier 4 sponsors (including GCU) in light of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The VISA Team have reviewed this guidance and have provided information below on how the changes may impact you. If you have any questions, please contact visa@gcu.ac.uk.

These arrangements are based on Home Office Guidance, and will apply until 31 July 2020, when they will be reviewed by the Home Office. This guidance will be updated accordingly.

 

Tier 4 - Information for Tier 4 sponsored students - (COVID-19) 

  • Tier 4 Student absences:

If you are a Tier 4 sponsored student by GCU, you should already have been in touch with the VISA Team to complete the Tier 4 checkpoint table sent via email on 18th March, to confirm if you are remaining in UK during this time or if you plan to exit UK. If there are any changes to your travel plans, please ensure you keep the VISA Team informed, by emailing visa@gcu.ac.uk.

Exiting UK or taking an absence from remote-learning for reasons relating to Coronavirus will not result in you being reported to the Home Office, even if you are unable to attend for more than 60 days. However, it is important you keep the VISA Team, and your Programme, informed of any absence or changes to your travel plans.

Regardless of whether you are in UK or outside UK, it is important you keep in touch with your Programme, and fully engage in remote-learning activities. Doing so will ensure your attendance is recorded on the attendance monitoring system.

If you need to take absence from remote studying due to illness or another reason, please inform your Programme as soon as possible as per the standard absence policy.

Although you will not be reported to the Home Office as a Tier 4 sponsor student for absences due to coronavirus, it is important that your Programme are aware of any absence from remote-learning and that the VISA team have your current address and contact details.

The Home Office will keep this under review and this guidance will be updated with any changes.

  • If GCU are sponsoring you as a distance learning student:

If you are a Tier 4 student who is continuing their studies through distance learning, GCU will continue to sponsor you whether you are in UK, or another country.

If you have been permanently withdrawn from your studies or have deferred your studies for reasons unrelated to coronavirus, The University will report this as usual.

If you have been issued a Tier 4 visa but you are distance learning because you are unable to travel to UK, GCU will not report this to the Home Office.

If you are a new international student who has not yet applied for a visa but want to start a course by distance-learning, you do not require sponsorship under Tier 4 at this time. This is because you do not need to travel to the UK. However, it is important you secure a visa to use when you are able to travel. Please contact visa@gcu.ac.uk if you are in this situation, for further guidance.

GCU do not need to tell the Home Office when students have moved to distance learning.

  • If you have been issued a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) but have not yet applied for a visa:

You will still be able to apply for a visa.

The start date for the course stated on the CAS may have changed. The Home Office will not automatically refuse such cases.

For example, The Home Office may accept a CAS if it has become invalid because you were unable to travel as a result of coronavirus. The Home Office will consider this on a case by case basis. Please contact visa@gcu.ac.uk if you are in this situation, for further guidance.

 These arrangements are based on Home Office Guidance, and will apply until 31 July 2020, when they will be reviewed by the Home Office. This guidance will be updated accordingly.

COVID-19 information for Start-up visa entrepreneurs

In March 2020, the government released new guidance for endorsing bodies under the Tier 1 Start-up route in light of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The VISA Team have reviewed this guidance and are on hand to answer any questions you may have. These arrangements will apply until 31 July, when they will be reviewed.

Due to travel restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic, some individuals may be unable to arrange visa appointments or travel to the UK. Due to the economic impacts, some individuals may experience difficulties fulfilling their business plans and maintaining contact with their endorsing body (GCU). The VISA Team is here to support both students going through the endorsement application process, and endorsed individuals throughout this time. 

In line with the new guidance, GCU will continue to accept endorsement applications, but a VISA Advisor will discuss your circumstances and ability to travel and/or work on your business, based on the current global situation at the time of your application.

If you are an endorsed individual and have any questions relating to your Tier 1 Start-up checkpoint, business progression, or visa issues relating to Coronavirus (COVID-19) please contact visa@gcu.ac.uk and an Advisor will be happy to assist. 

Introduction:

In March 2020, the government released new guidance for endorsing bodies under the Tier 1 Start-up route in light of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The VISA Team have reviewed this guidance and have provided information below on how the changes may impact you, depending on the stage of your endorsement application. If you have any questions, please contact visa@gcu.ac.uk

Tier 1: Information for applicants and endorsed individuals:

Due to travel restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic, GCU understands some of our applicants and endorsed individuals may be unable to arrange visa appointments or travel to the UK. Due to the economic impacts, you may also experience difficulties fulfilling your business plans and maintaining contact with us, if you are already endorsed by GCU.

  • Individuals who have not yet been endorsed:

GCU may still issue endorsements, but the VISA Team will be in touch with you if you have an application in progress to discuss whether you are able to make a visa application, and to consider current travel restrictions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The VISA Team will also discuss with you whether you are likely to be able to start developing your business in the UK under the current situation. If not, The VISA Team will delay your endorsement until a later date as required.

  • Individuals who have been endorsed but have not yet applied for a visa:

Endorsement letters are valid for 3 months. If you have been endorsed but are unable to make a visa application within this timeframe, please contact The VISA Team who will issue you with a new endorsement (using a new secure reference number) before you apply.

Individuals who have applied for a visa but are unable to travel:

Please contact the VISA Team if you are in this situation, who will contact the Home Office directly to inform them of your case, and refer to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) immigration guidance on gov.uk for the latest information.

  • Individuals who are due to have a checkpoint with their endorsing body:

GCU will maintain contact checkpoints with endorsed individuals wherever possible. It is not necessary for these to be face-to face and we will arrange checkpoints via telephone or video conference. Please ensure you are maintaining contact with your Tier 1 mentor. If you have concerns regarding this, please contact visa@gcu.ac.uk.

All Tier 1 Start-up applicants and endorsed individuals have GCU’s full support throughout this time, and we will make allowances for the current situation when considering your progress against your business plans, and, where possible, discuss future contingencies. GCU must notify The Home Office if you miss a checkpoint without prior agreement, so it is important you let your mentor and the VISA Team know as soon as possible if you cannot make a checkpoint for any reason.

  • Individuals who need to apply to extend their stay:

GCU will continue to issue endorsements as normal to individuals who are in the UK, whose visas are expiring, and who wishes to apply to switch into the Start-up category. Please contact visa@gcu.ac.uk if this applies to you.  You should also refer to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) immigration guidance on gov.uk for the latest information.

COVID-19 information for Tier 2 employees

In March 2020, the government released new guidance for Tier 2 sponsors (including GCU) in light of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The VISA Team have reviewed this guidance and have provided information below on how the changes may impact you. If you have any questions, please contact visa@gcu.ac.uk. These arrangements are based on Home Office Guidance, and will apply until 31 July 2020, when they will be reviewed by the Home Office. This guidance will be updated accordingly.

Tier 2: Information for GCU-sponsored Tier 2 employees:

  • Absence:

GCU will continue to sponsor employees who have taken absence(s) due to coronavirus and are not required to report employee absences related to coronavirus to the Home Office.

This can include absences due to illness, a need to isolate, or inability to travel due to travel restrictions.

GCU will not withdraw sponsorship if, because of coronavirus, you are absent from work without pay for more than 4 weeks.

  • If you are working from home:

GCU do not have to notify the Home Office if you are working from home due to coronavirus.

Other changes to your working arrangements will still be reported as usual.

  • If GCU have issued a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) and you have not yet applied for a visa:

You will still be able to apply for a visa.

The start date for the employment stated on the CoS may have changed. The Home Office will not automatically refuse such cases.

For example, The Home Office may accept a CoS if it has become invalid because you were unable to travel as a result of coronavirus. The Home Office will consider this on a case by case basis.

If you are a GCU sponsored Tier 2 employee impacted by Coronavirus, please contact the VISA Team on visa@gcu.ac.uk

COVID-19 information for Tier 5 workers

In March 2020, the government released new guidance for Tier 5 sponsors (including GCU) in light of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The VISA Team have reviewed this guidance and have provided information below on how the changes may impact you. If you have any questions, please contact visa@gcu.ac.ukThese arrangements are based on Home Office Guidance, and will apply until 31 July 2020, when they will be reviewed by the Home Office. This guidance will be updated accordingly.

Ø  Absence:

GCU will continue to sponsor temporary workers who have taken absence(s) due to coronavirus and are not required to report temporary worker absences related to coronavirus to the Home Office.

This can include absences due to illness, a need to isolate, or inability to travel due to travel restrictions.

GCU will not withdraw sponsorship if, because of coronavirus, you are absent from work without pay for more than 4 weeks.

Ø  If you are working from home:

GCU do not have to notify the Home Office if you are working from home due to coronavirus.

Other changes to your working arrangements will still be reported as usual.

Ø  If GCU have issued a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) and you have not yet applied for a visa:

You will still be able to apply for a visa.

The start date for the employment stated on the CoS may have changed. The Home Office will not automatically refuse such cases.

For example, The Home Office may accept a CoS if it has become invalid because you were unable to travel as a result of coronavirus. The Home Office will consider this on a case by case basis.

If you are a GCU sponsored Tier 5 temporary worker impacted by Coronavirus, please contact the VISA Team on visa@gcu.ac.uk.

 

Police Registration Services - Scotland

Due to the circumstances of Covid-19, Police Scotland have adapted the way the service is operated and so there are some changes which have been put in place to ensure the safety of all the students and Police Scotland staff.

All new students who require initial registration or students who were unable to register back in March 2020 will have to email directly at SCDOVROGlasgow@scotland.pnn.police.uk to make an appointment. Appointments will be offered on a first come, first serve basis.

If you have recently arrived in UK and are required to register with the Police, you do not have not to worry about the 7 days registration period, a 21 day allowance has been enforced so that students can quarantine and then notify us they need an appointment to register.

To aid with Social Distancing measures, fewer appointment slots will be available and so there will likely be a delay in securing an appointment.

When you email Police Scotland to make an appointment, you will be asked a set of questions checking that you have quarantined for 14 days if required, as well as being asked to provide your personal contact information for track & trace purposes. Those who have not quarantined as required will not be able to make an appointment. They will be asked to email for an appointment once their isolation period is up.

When you come to your appointment you are asked to ensure you arrive on time or at least 5 minutes before your appointment. Those who are too early to their appointment (e.g. an hour or so before) will be asked to come back at their correct time and those 5 minutes before appointment will be asked to wait outside the building 2 metres apart.

Please note you should not be accompanied by friends, only those from the same household like a family member or a translator can accompany the individual who has an appointment.  Those who arrive late or who forget any of their documentation required for their appointment (e.g. 2 X Passport Photo) will not be seen and asked to return home and book in for a new appointment date/time.

At your appointment you will be asked to wear a mask and sanitise your hands on entry to the building. Entry to the building will be through a single door which is separate to staff entry and will be sign posted. There will be a one way system with barriers and signage guiding them to the registration desk. You will be given your Police registration certificate on the day of your appointment. Pens will be provided and cleaned for your signature on the certificate, however it is preferred that you bring your own to help prevent cross contamination.

Payment for Police registration certificate will be £34 cash. Students should bring exact £34 cash to help reduce handing out change but change will be available if need be. Police Scotland are looking into making Contactless payment available but at the moment this is not an option.

You must complete the OVRO Initial Registration Form available on the Police Scotland website and bring this with you to your appointment.

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to get in contact the VISA Team directly on visa@gcu.ac.uk. 

Police Registration Services - London

Coronavirus (Covid-19): Following the recent national lockdown announcement by the UK Government, Police Registration Services in London have been suspended and the OVRO (Overseas Visitor Registration Office) will remain closed until further notice. If you have already booked an appointment you should receive an e-mail advising you that your appointment has been cancelled. OVRO have confirmed that you will not face any penalty action for delays in registering/reporting caused by our closure. Customers who are travelling abroad prior to registering with the OVRO should not face any difficulties at UK ports for non-registration due to the suspension of our services. 

You can find out more at the following website: https://www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/ov/registering-overseas-visitor/ 

If you have any questions about Police Registration in London please contact visa@gculondon.ac.uk