new uk visa rules for travelers

UK Visa Centres Reopen: Immigration Updates After Coronavirus Lockdown

UK Visa Centres have begun reopening in phases starting from June 1st 2020 in mainland China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Australia and Fiji.

However, in countries where UKVI offices and visa application centres remain closed, the bodies propose that the UK government “introduce alternative mechanisms to process visa applications online” and collect biometric information on arrival, as well as extending Covid-19 specific flexibility measures.

Some weeks ago, in the wake of the Covid-19 global pandemic, immigration into the United Kingdom was stopped in order to curb the spread. The Home Office (a ministerial department of Her Majesty’s Government of the UK, responsible for immigration, security and law and order) made the decision to close all UK visa application centres globally.

While this was probably the right thing to do to safeguard lives and public health in the United Kingdom and other countries, it presented a new challenge for universities and students looking to get the UK Study visa.

What This Means For Universities And Prospective International Students

Various bodies and associations have called on the UK government to urgently respond to challenges pertaining to admission processes for international students for the next academic session.

With the UK education sector generating more than £13 billion of export revenue in 2016 alone, (an increase of 41% since 2010), the UK government is requested to make clear to international students if they can still have confidence in studying and UK universities, or if they have to consider other options due to the new visa system changes.

Specifically, UniversitiesUK (UUK) is asking the government to:

  • Reassure applicants that online study will not disqualify students from the new Graduate Route – which gives students post-study working opportunities in the UK – to be introduced in 2021
  • Ensure students can start courses online with confidence by extending the visa application window from three months to six months
  • Extend rules allowing Tier 4 students to study partially online, to allow for the blended approach being planned by universities. 

Just like other countries are seriously considering integrating blended and online learning into their programs, especially as physical classroom learning has been impossible, the UK government has also been asked to take action to ensure the visa system will be accommodate flexible and blended learning. 

With some flexibility, international students can actually start learning in their home countries, and possibly get their UK study visa to come over to complete their degrees in the United Kingdom after one or two years. They can also decide to the entire program online and still be entitled to the same immigration opportunities for international students, such as the two-year UK post-study work visa.

Phased Reopening of UK Visa Centres from June 1st 2020

Visa application centres worldwide have started opening around the world from June 1st, though in a very controlled and phased manner. 

The centres initially are not accepting new applications, but will be taking applicants whose appointments were postponed due to the imposed lockdown.

New UK Visa Rues: Compulsory 14-day Quarantine For All Incoming Travelers

traveler waiting at airport

The UK government also announced that from June 8 2020, all incoming travelers would be subject to a compulsory 14-day quarantine in self-isolation. Both residents and visitors will be given with strict requirements concerning their journey travels in the UK and contact details of where they will be staying during this period.

The travelers are required to fill an online journey/contact details form before the date of travel which will be presented upon arrival at the UK border.

Failure to complete the form may result in a £100 fine, or outright refusal of entry into the UK.

More resources about UK immigration:

  • Read more about the rules of the 14-day compulsory self-isolation
  • Learn about the implications for universities relating to UK school qualifications and admissions following school closures and the cancellation of exams.
  • Frequently Asked Questions on the way the Covid-19 outbreak is affecting the international work of UK universities, their international students, staff and partners and international students looking to study in the UK in the near future
  • Read Universities UK analysis on the response to the pandemic and the needs of the higher education sector.

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