COVID-19: 2021 UK PSW confirmed for students forced into distance learning
The Home Office has confirmed that foreign students forced to continue their studies through distance or blended learning will remain eligible for UK PSW visas in 2021 upon graduation.
In a COVID-19 guidance note issued today, the UK Home Office confirmed that international students who are forced to pursue their education through distance or blended learning due to the disruption caused by the Coronavirus pandemic will remain eligible for the relaunching Graduate Immigration Route in 2021, the post-study work visa (PSW).
International students who are due to start their programmes this year and are forced into distance or blended learning will be eligible for PSW upon graduation as well, with the Home Office granting them a concession for the period spent away from the UK.
6 April 2021 set as UK PSW eligibility date
Under standard rules, students are currently expected to undertake their studies in the UK to be eligible for the PSW.
With the Tier 4 concession in place, the guidance noted that “[international] students will benefit from this concession if they enter the UK before 6 April 2021 and complete the final semester of their studies in the UK.”
Distance learning, which is currently ineligible for Tier 4 status, has also been included in the concessions.
The Home Office statement said: “Tier 4 students are not normally permitted to undertake distance learning courses. However, due to the current exceptional circumstances, we will not consider it a breach of sponsor duties to offer distance learning to existing Tier 4 students in the UK or who have chosen to return overseas but wish to continue their current studies.”
The move was welcomed by the UK India Business Council, which provides strategic advisory services to organisations in both countries.
Tara Panjwani, Associate Director of UKIBC, told Global Education Times: “The UKIBC welcome this move by the Home Office to provide greater clarity to Indian and other international students on the new Graduate Immigration Route and reassure them that the UK is still open and doing everything it can to support its higher education sector.
“This is one of the key recommendations that the UKIBC advocated for on behalf of our member universities and will go a long way in boosting the ‘living bridge’ between our two countries during the Covid-19 crisis and beyond.”
Working hours concessions for certain international students
The Home Office has lifted the 20-hours a week working hours restriction for international students who are employed within specific professions by any NHS trust.
Additionally, concessions have also been made for students whose sponsors have suspended their study.
The guidance said: “Tier 4 students with work rights whose sponsor suspends all study on their course as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak will be considered to be in vacation time and so will be permitted to work full-time during this period.”