Coronavirus (Covid-19): info for international students

Last modified: 27 March 2020

This is an evolving situation and UKCISA continues to work with the UK government and local public health authorities to distribute appropriate guidance to UK international students.

Statement from UKCISA

Last modified: 27 March 2020

19 March 2020

Joint statement from UKCISA and Universities UK International: Covid-19 impact on international students

Everyone at UKCISA and Universities UK International understands that it is a difficult time for many international students. This is a rapidly evolving situation, and advice from institutions, and from the governments in the UK and other countries is understandably being updated on a very frequent basis. Student and staff wellbeing is the top priority for ourselves and our university members and we will be doing everything we can to ensure that everyone has the support they need.

Please be reassured that we are working constantly with UK government departments, our members, and other sector organisations, taking every possible measure to ensure the university community is well-informed, supported and safe. The health of all students and staff is of the utmost importance to university leaders and operational and contingency planning to manage the outbreak is underway across our institutions. This is a constantly-evolving situation and universities are planning for all possible scenarios.

UK universities understand that a university ‘closure’, which can mean a variety of things, may cause anxiety for students who cannot return home. Universities understand that a student’s halls are usually their main home for much of the year and universities will support those students who cannot or do not want to go home. 

We are seeking specific advice from the government on self-isolation in shared accommodation. The focus for universities who have students in this situation would be to ensure every possible measure is being taken to support them during self-isolation, to ensure this is effective but also that their needs are met. 

For more general support, students should check their institution’s website and contact their wellbeing support services, or phone UKCISA’s Student Advice Line on +442077889214 (1–4pm UK time, Monday–Friday).

Update: 23 March 

The UK government has now issued guidance on isolation for residential educational settings

It notes that 'It is important that institutions operate a ‘non-eviction’ policy if students have no alternative residence' and that this 'is particularly important for international students who may not be able to return home due to travel restrictions.'


5 February 2020

Below is a joint statement from Universities UK International, Universities UK and the UK Council for International Student Affairs on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on Chinese staff and students at UK universities.

The health, welfare and safety of students and staff is the top priority for university leaders following the Coronavirus outbreak. UK universities have been supporting all students and staff who might be concerned about their health with up-to-date advice from health services. Our universities have a strong history of welcoming Chinese students and staff to the UK and they are very much part of our international community. UK universities will not tolerate racism in any form, and we encourage students and staff to report any incident of racial harassment and seek support from their university.

We understand that students and staff may be worried about friends and family members in China and our thoughts go to all those affected by this situation. At this difficult time, we ask that students and staff support their fellow friends and colleagues in solidarity with the whole of the international higher education community.

For more general support, students should contact their institution’s wellbeing support services, or phone UKCISA’s Student Advice Line on +442077889214 (1–4pm UK time, Monday–Friday).

联合声明:英国大学联盟 (Universities UK) 和英国国际学生事务委员会 (UK Council for International Student Affairs) 针对新型冠状病毒疫情对中国学生影响的声明。 




如果学生需要更多支持和帮助,请联系所在大学的相关部门,或致电英国国际学生事务委员会的学生咨询热线+442077889214 (英国时间星期一至星期五下午1-4 点之间。请注意,我们的咨询热线只提供英文服务。)

Updates from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)

Last modified: 25 March 2020

The Home Office updated its immigration guidance for people affected by Coronavirus on 24 March 2020.

It now covers everyone regardless of nationality or country of residence. See the full guidance for details of all measures, some of which which we also include in Questions we can answer.

In particular, it provides the following special arrangements.

Free extension if your immigration permission expires between 24 January and 31 May 2020

If your immigration permission expired, or will expire, between 24 January and 31 May 2020 the Home Office will extend it for you up to 31 May 2020 without your having to make an immigration application or pay a fee. However, you must contact its Coronvirus Immigration Help Centre.

You can do this by email and we recommend that you email, rather than call, so that you have a record of the contact and save time waiting to speak to someone.

You must provide the information set out in the guidance:

  • your full name including any middle names
  • your date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy) 
  • your nationality
  • your previous visa reference number
  • why you can’t go back to your home country, for example if the border has closed

The Home Office will let you know when your request is received and when your visa has been extended.

Applications in the UK when this would not normally be possible 

​You can apply in the UK under the same or a different immigration category if you would normally have to leave the UK to make the new application. For example, if you are here with a short-term student visa you will be able to apply in the UK under Tier 4. You make this application online and pay the fee for an application made in the UK. For information about attending biometrics appointments in the UK, see Sopra Steria information.

The deadline for applying under this provision is 31 May 2020.

Note that you will have to meet all other requirements of the immigration category you want to apply under, so this does not help you if, for example, you cannot meet the maintenance requirement. We will ask the Home Office for specific guidance on how far this applies to Tier 4 requirements and applications.

If your immigration permission expires or expired between 24 January and  31 May 2020, and you cannot make use of this special provision or leave the UK, make sure you notify the Home Office's Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre as early as possible that you want a free extension under the provision we explain above. 

Home Office Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre

The Home Office Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre number and email address are available for immigration enquiries related only to Coronavirus:

Telephone: 0800 678 1767, open Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Calls are free of charge.


How we are trying to help and support you 

UKVI (the UK Visas and Immigration department of the Home Office) will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates. UKCISA is in regular communication with the UK Home Office to represent the interests of international students during this outbreak. We will continue to update our information on a regular basis.

For support or clarification on any of the information given here, you can call the UKCISA Student Advice Line on +4420 7788 9214 between 1.00pm and 4.00pm (UK time) between Monday and Friday, except for public holidays. Before calling us, please check Questions we can answer and Questions we can not answer yet.

General support for international students

Last modified: 27 March 2020

The wellbeing of international students is our top priority at UKCISA and we are doing everything we can to ensure that you have the support you need during this unprecedented global pandemic.

As announced on the evening of 23rd March, all citizens and residents in the UK are now required to stay at home, other than for very specific circumstances. Read the full regulations here. Be sure to let your institution know if you are planning to leave the country.

Universities and colleges are transitioning to working online but staff will continue to work to support you in your own institutions. We advise all students to check information and advice on your institution’s websites and to keep in touch with academic and support staff.

All the latest advice from the UK government.

Latest health advice and information from National Health Service.

Latest health advice from Public Health Wales.

Latest health advice from Northern Ireland.

Latest health advice from Health Protection Scotland.

Looking after our mental health is more important now than ever and social isolation can be extremely difficult to cope with. There is lots of useful information about looking after your mental health during this pandemic on the Student Minds website. One of our #WeAreInternational Student Ambassadors, Khoa Nguyễn, has offered tips for looking after your mental health in a lockdown situation via a blog found here

We understand that many students live in shared accommodation and this can be worrying if you or your housemates start to feel unwell. In most cases, the disease seems to be mild. If you are living in student halls of residence and are worried about your own health or the health of students that you live with, contact staff at your accommodation to inform them that you are unwell, and use this link to guide you on to next steps.

The Department for Education (DfE) has produced guidance on self-isolation and social distancing for students living in university or college halls of residence.

The DfE has launched a helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education.

Staff, parents and students can contact the helpline by telephone and email:

Phone: 0800 046 8687


The helpline is open from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

You can also call the UKCISA Student Advice Line for advice and support on +4420 7788 9214 between 1.00pm and 4.00pm (UK time) between Monday and Friday, except for public holidays. Before calling us, please check Questions we can answer and Questions we can not answer yet

Questions we can answer

Last modified: 27 March 2020

In this section, we provide answers to some of the questions you are asking us. Please be aware that some education providers will have their own policies which might differ from our answers. We can only explain what the Home Office has told us, and provide links to information on a range of education matters, including accommodation and travel, for students and education providers

We will try to keep this information as current as possible. Where we provide a link to the original source, please check it before contacting us, because it might have been updated.

Communicating with your education provider


Free extension if your immigration permission expires between 24 January and 31 May

English language tests

Leaving your course early, and returning to the UK

When Tier 4 sponsors will withdraw sponsorship

Applying in the UK when this is not usually possible

Making an immigration application in the UK

How periods of overstay will be regarded

Making an immigration application outside the UK

Biometric residence permits


Free NHS treatment



Immigration permission granted, but you cannot travel to the UK


Questions we cannot answer yet

Last modified: 25 March 2020

We have asked UKVI for policies to deal with the questions below but, until they publish guidance, we cannot provide more information on these topics on our website or on our advice line. As soon as we have clear answers, we will update this information.

The Home Office has assured us that no one will be penalised because of something outside their control. But if you have questions about any of these matters and need to hear from them directly, we recommend that you contact the Home Office’s Coronavirus Immigration Helpline and explain your concerns in detail to them. 

How absences will be treated in future settlement applications

Applying in the UK when you do not meet all the requirements

The long-term consequences for the future