COVID-19 Update: Tier 4 sponsors and applicants - | Hudson McKenzie

COVID-19 Update: Tier 4 sponsors and applicants

On 5th August 2020, UK Visas, and Immigration (UKVI) updated its policy guidance for Tier 4 sponsors who are sponsoring students engaging in distance learning and its information on visa extensions and the resumption of specified visa services.

Tier 4 sponsors

It is still permitted by UKVI for sponsors to continue sponsoring students who are engaging in distance learning.

Whether the students are in the UK or abroad, Tier 4 sponsors can still follow through with sponsoring students who are still distance learning or starting a new course of study. However, should Tier 4 sponsors seek to sponsor students who will either engage in distance learning or blended study from the 2020/2021 academic year, they can only do so if they intend to transition to face-to-face learning when conditions permit them to do so.

Tier 4 sponsors do NOT need to do the following:

  • Withdraw sponsorship for new Tier 4 students who are distance learning because they cannot enter the UK

They can continue to sponsor students who are starting their courses of study via distance learning. They also do not need to be the UK.

  • Report to the Home Office when a sponsored student has transitioned to distance learning

Sponsors do not have to declare when a student’s course of study changes from face-to-face learning to either blended study or distance learning. 

Tier 4 sponsors MUST do the following:

  • Withdraw sponsorship when a student has either deferred or withdrawn from their course of study for a period of 30 days

Sponsors must report this to the Home Office for students who choose to defer or withdraw from their courses for reasons completely unrelated to COVID-19. However, should students choose to defer or permanently withdraw from their studies solely because of the pandemic, then sponsors may not have to withdraw their sponsorship.

  • Ensure that students travelling to the UK to commence their courses via distance learning have a Tier 4 visa and a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) prior to their arrival

Tier 4 sponsorship is not required for international students who seek to study courses entirely via distance learning abroad because they do not need to travel to the UK.

Overseas Services

As of now, it seems to be that Priority Visa and Super Priority Visa services have returned to ‘business as usual’. These specific services have resumed its operations overseas albeit in certain locations.

Individuals can check whether these services are running in their location by contacting the relevant commercial partner’s website.

UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres

Sopra Steria Service Points are still operating at a reduced capacity. However, an additional 12 services points are scheduled to reopen from Monday 3rd August 2020. This includes:

  • London – Her Majesty’s Passport Office
  • Birmingham – Her Majesty’s Passport Office
  • Bournemouth
  • Bath
  • Luton

Should you have any queries regarding the above information or if you require legal assistance with your private or corporate immigration matters, please get in touch with a legal professional at Hudson McKenzie via email at or by telephone +44(0) 20 3318 5794.