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Visa implications for students affected by new Coronavirus outbreak (updated on 21.02.2020)

The Student Immigration & Compliance team has received enquiries from staff and students regarding the visa implications of the Coronavirus outbreak. We have put some guidance together to help you understand your options. Please also refer to the University's general advice for Warwick community.

On 17 February 2020, the UKVI published 'Coronavirus: Immigration guidance if you're unable to return to China from the UK'. Please take a look.

  • You are taking a break in studies but are feeling unsafe/unable to return to China due to travel restrictions

If you hold a Tier 4 visa and are taking a break in studies (for example, temporary withdrawal), you will usually have up to 60 days to prepare for your departure from the UK. This is calculated from the day you received an email from the Student Immigration & Compliance team confirming a report has been made to the Home Office UKVI to stop sponsoring your Tier 4 visa. You may wish to remain in the UK during this 60-day period and see whether the situation improves. If the situation doesn't improve, you may wish to seek independent immigration advice (for example, talk to an immigration solicitor) who can advise you further and help you making a visa application to vary your current leave. Please also check this news item as it will be updated as the situation evolves.

  • Your visa is expiring soon but you are unable to return to China due to travel restrictions

If you have recently completed your studies and your visa is expiring soon, and you are unable to return to China because of flight cancellation etc., please refer to the UKVI guidance.

For all other students (especially those whose visa expires after 31 March 2020), if you decide to remain in the UK beyond your current visa expiry date, we would advise that you make a visa application to vary your current leave assisted by a solicitor. It is important to submit this new visa application before your current visa expiry date so that your immigration status in the UK is protected (i.e., you would remain a legal resident in the UK while awaiting a decision).

The 'useful links' section of our 'Conditions of Service' webpage contains further information if you are looking for legal representation.

  • You are starting a new course at Warwick/ are due to resume studies after a break/ returning to the UK to resit exams in Spring 2020 but are unable to obtain a visa due to the closure of visa application centres

We understand that the visa application centres in China are closed for longer than expected. Please check the webpage below for further updates. 

If you are starting a new research course at Warwick, you would normally have a 1-month 'latest start date' which is stated on your CAS. This means if your arrival is slightly delayed, it shouldn't affect your ability to start your course as long as you arrive before your 'latest start date'. However, if there will be longer delays, please contact your academic department or the Postgraduate Admissions team to see whether you can postpone your course start date.

If you are returning from a period of temporary withdrawal, you may wish to contact your academic department to check if you are able to resume studies from overseas, or whether you need to extend your period of temporary withdrawal.

If you are returning to re-sit exams in Spring 2020, you will receive an email from Immigration before the end of February to outline your visa options. Once you have made a decision, we will aim to process any CAS/ Short term study visa supporting letter within 2 weeks of receiving the request. If you have an early exam (for example, in April 2020), and you are worried, please contact your academic department in the first instance to see whether there are any alternative arrangements for you to take exams outside of the UK or on a different date. Hopefully, majority of the students will have re-sit exams during the main exam period (starting 11 May 2020) and the situation would have improved. You should start preparing for documents required for your visa application while awaiting for the visa application centres to open, and may wish to use 'priority' or 'super priority' service to obtain your visa more quickly.

  • You are currently on a period of leave or change of study location in China but unable to leave China

If you need to return to the UK later than expected (for example, following a period of authorised absence), or, you need to go through a period of quarantine, please contact your academic department ASAP. You may be able to resume studies from overseas, or, extend your authorised absence period.

If you are a continuing student, it is important to keep your academic deparmtent updated if you are affected by the travel restrictions.

The travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) states that they advise against all travel to Hubei Province, and against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China. If you decide to travel to China (or other affected areas) during the Easter Holiday, please consider the possible consequences, for example, would your return flight to the UK be cancelled? If you are unwell after returning to the UK you might need to self-isolate for 14 days and this might affect your ability to attend classes or take examinations in Term 3.

If you have further questions, or, if you have questions not covered here, please feel free to contact us.