See guidance about overseas travel as well as the visas you need to study at Sussex while the Coronavirus situation is ongoing.
Entering and returning to the UK
If this applies to you, you should do quarantine immediately and not book one of the mass asymptomatic tests on campus.
If you live on campus, you should return to your household. As long as you are not showing any Covid-19 symptoms, you can mix with your housemates (but not leave your home or visit areas of campus for 10 days) as per the Government guidance.
You can end your isolation early if you receive a negative result from a PCR test taken at least five days after your flight. For this result to be valid, you must book the PCR test before you travel to England and enter details of your test on the passenger locator form. The test must be carried out by one of the government’s approved private providers. The lateral flow tests provided at the mass asymptomatic test centre on campus are not part of the “test to release for international travel” scheme.
All students who need to self-isolate after travelling can register for the University's self-isolation support package.
Once you have finished your period of self-isolation, if you are not experiencing any symptoms, you can attend your in-person teaching, and follow the rules of the classroom.
If you are travelling from a country on the UK’s travel corridor list, you do not need to self-isolate – unless you have visited or stopped in any other country or territory. This list is subject to change.
- Visa questions? Skip to visa guidance.
If you need to quarantine on arrival, current guidance requires you to:
- provide your journey and contact details when you travel to the UK
- stay in your residence for the first 10 days you’re in the UK, except in very limited situations.
This is because it can take time for symptoms to develop and, in this time, you could unknowingly pass the disease to others. If you need to quarantine on arrival, and will be living in University-managed accommodation for this academic year, contact the Housing Services team to let them know.
Leaving the UK
Make sure you’ve updated your term-time address on Sussex Direct so we know how to contact you in an emergency.
If you’re a student visa holder, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) requires us to hold up-to-date contact details for you. If you are staying on campus, please also complete this short survey so we can stay in touch and make sure you have the latest information about how we are supporting you.
Seek advice from your country’s embassy or consulate in the UK if you are considering returning to your home country. You may find that travel options are limited. You should not travel if you have symptoms of Covid-19 yourself, or if you live in shared accommodation with people who are self-isolating.
You will not be penalised by the Home Office if you need to stay in the UK and end up overstaying your visas – see more visa-related information.
Coronavirus travel advice
Travel Health Pro is an expert organisation supported by Public Health England and a range of other expert health organisations. See Travel Health Pro information about travelling and Coronavirus.
The UK government has a dedicated Coronavirus Immigration Helpline for people affected by travel restrictions:
- Telephone: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
- Email: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk.
The UK Council of International Student Affairs (UKCISA) also has detailed information for international students.
Applying to the EU Settlement Scheme
If you are an EU/EEA student, you can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme from outside the UK (free of charge) based on the fact that you have been living in the UK in the last six months.
Alternatively, if you are returning to Sussex, you can apply once you are back in the UK but you should do so before 31 December 2020. See our Brexit Hub for more information about the EU Settlement Scheme.
If you have a student visa issue, check this information.
- My studies have finished, but I can’t leave the UK due to Coronavirus and my student visa has expired or will expire soon. What should I do?
If you are not able to leave the UK or make an immigration application before your current visa expires, you need to urgently contact our immigration team for more advice. It may be possible for you to contact UKVI and request more time in the UK for reasons related to Coronavirus. The current government information indicates that this provision is in place for people whose immigration permission expires between 1 November 2020 and 30 November 2020.
- My course has not finished and my student visa will soon expire. I want to remain in the UK. What should I do?
It is possible to make a visa application in the UK. If your visa will expire soon and you have not yet made a visa extension application, you should contact our student immigration advice team to discuss your options. You must apply before your current visa expiry date.
The UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS), led by Sopra Steria on behalf of UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), has introduced a controlled, phased restart of operations, including biometric enrolment.
If you have submitted your application online, you may be invited to make an appointment to attend a centre to provide biometrics. Alternatively, if the Home Office decides that it can reuse fingerprints you gave in another immigration application, you will receive an email explaining that you do not need to attend a centre and can instead provide a photo and your documents digitally. You will be able to book an appointment to attend a centre if you cannot provide your photograph or documents online, or if the Home Office cannot reuse your fingerprints.
See the UKVCAS website for the latest information.
- My course has not yet finished and my student visa will soon expire. I am already in my home country due to Coronavirus. Do I need to do anything?
There will be no impact on your student visa if you study remotely in your home country and continue to engage with your studies. UKVI has confirmed that remote study is acceptable so your visa will remain valid. We advise that you should aim to be studying in-person again no later than January 2021.
If your visa will expire soon, or has already expired but you still need to complete your course or resit exams, then you will need to apply for a new visa prior to travelling to the UK. You should receive a new CAS. See how to apply for a new visa while overseas.
- My course has not yet finished. I still have my student visa. Will my visa be cancelled?
Whether you are still in the UK or overseas, as long as you remain actively engaged with your degree programme, as instructed by your School via online teaching and assessments for your course, then your student visa will not be cancelled (curtailed) by the UKVI and there is nothing further you need to do. You should contact our student immigration advice team for any guidance you need about your visa situation.
Any studies you missed while teaching was suspended will be treated as authorised absences.
You should make plans to return to campus no later than Hanuary 2021. Your current visa will still be valid for re-entry to the UK. See the latest details on returning to Sussex, re-entering the UK (including any quarantine measures in place) and what to do if you can’t travel back.
If you have permanently withdrawn from, or formally deferred, your studies, we would need to report this to UKVI as usual and your student visa will no longer be valid.
- How will my attendance be monitored?
There will be a mix of classroom (and laboratory-based) and remote learning. If you are studying as instructed by your School, this should satisfy attendance monitoring requirements.
- I’m currently in the UK on a non-student visa (such as a dependant or standard visitor visa). Can I switch to a student visa?
The immigration rules now allow you to switch from most immigration categories to a Student visa from within the UK. You cannot apply from within the UK if you have a short-term study visa, visit visa, parent of a child student visa, seasonal worker visa or domestic worker in a private household visa.
- I have a police registration appointment booked or have not yet registered with the police. What should I do?
- Can I continue to study from overseas?
Many doctoral researchers have already returned to their homes, outside of the UK. If you are continuing to study, please agree this with supervisors and use the Change of Study Location (COSL) form to notify the University.
The COSL form is normally used for changes of more than three months. We are advising doctoral researchers to use this form where the length of time outside the UK is uncertain, and to update the Research Student Administration Office (RSAO) upon your return to the UK. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Can I take a break from my studies?
Wherever possible, you should continue your programmes of research. Doctoral researchers and supervisors should discuss how to adjust the research project temporarily to enable different activities to take place, under remote supervision. We acknowledge this will differ in complexity based on an individual’s circumstances and the discipline or stage of the PhD.
Options for taking a break
It is important to discuss all options with supervisors before making a decision to pause studies.
If it is not possible to continue studies as a direct result of Covid-19, Tier 4-sponsored doctoral researchers have two options:
- apply for a period of authorised absence, or
- extend a current period of authorised absence up until 30 September 2020.
Authorised absence can be granted regardless of current location, within or outside of the UK. A period of authorised absence as a direct result of Covid-19 can be applied for, regardless of any previous authorised absences.
Authorised absence effectively ‘stops’ the registration clock, and extra time will be added to the maximum date of registration. Extra time is not added to the length of the visa and fees are not accrued during this time.
Requests for new authorised absence will be dated from the start of the month and can be requested using the Covid19-related authorised absence form. Applications must be supported by a full description of the current circumstances which explain how studies are not possible as a direct result of Covid-19. Applications are signed off (by email) by Supervisors and Directors of Doctoral Studies in the normal way.
You can request an extension of authorised absence up until 30 September 2020 if you are unable to return to studies as a direct result of Covid-19.
Requests for extensions to authorised absence can be made by completing the Covid19-related authorised absence form.
You must include:
- a note describing your current circumstances, and why you are requesting an authorised absence, or an extension to a previously granted authorised absence
- evidence to support your request, where possible, such as a doctor’s note
- the length of further absence requested (one or two months – up until 30 September 2020)
- supervisor support of the further period of authorised absence.
If you have not previously applied for a period of authorised absence, it is not possible to make a retrospective application for previous months. You may only apply from the start of the current month.
If you have questions, email email@example.com.
Take a period of intermission (also called temporary withdrawal)
The University standard guidance on intermission for Tier 4 sponsored students applies in the current Covid-19 context. Doctoral researchers who require intermission should note the standard UKVI procedures, and that to intermit from studies would end a current Tier 4 visa, and require a return to a home country outside of the UK.
If you have questions about intermission, contact the International Student Support team.
- Will a period of authorised absence affect a Tier 4 visa?
The University will continue sponsoring Tier 4-sponsored doctoral researchers through a period of Covid-19 related authorised absence.
Additional time will not be added to your visa-length if you take a Covid-19 authorised absence.
As a result of Covid-19 authorised absence, if you require further time to remain in the UK and complete your PhD, you will need to apply for a visa extension in the normal way, noting visa application costs and proof of maintenance.
- Do supervision meetings need to be recorded during authorised absence?
As the University is continuing to sponsor a Tier 4 visa during authorised absence, you must keep your contact details up-to-date on Sussex Direct and maintain monthly contact with your main supervisor.
- How will an authorised absence or intermission affect my studies?
Authorised absence effectively ‘stops’ the registration clock, and extra time will be added to the maximum date of registration.
It is expected that many early-stage Doctoral Researchers will not require any additional registration time to complete their PhD. However, where additional time is required, the University is committed to offer flexibility in registration extensions due to Covid-19.
- How will an authorised absence or intermission affect a scholarship?
Funded Doctoral Researchers will need to consult with their funders for further information regarding funding during a break in studies, and funding extensions.
- Do I need to return to the UK for a viva?
Not at the current time. All Sussex viva examinations are being conducted via teleconferencing (e.g Zoom / Skype) until further notice. Under these arrangements, a doctoral researcher, an internal and external examiner, and a viva ‘Chair’ would all be remote and away from Sussex campus. If there is no access to technology, or a delay is preferred, this should be discussed with supervisors.
Beyond the current Coronavirus situation, we expect distant vivas to revert to being used only in exceptional cases, where one party cannot travel to campus.
See more guidance for postgraduate researchers and supervisors while the Coronavirus situation continues.
Working at this time
The same working limits for Tier 4 visa-holders apply, whether you’re studying or on a period of authorised absence during term-time. You cannot work more than 20 hours a week.
See more about working while studying with a visa.
Contact our immigration advisers for advice and support on any immigration or visa issue. We can offer video advice sessions via Zoom.
Check our international student information on the Student Hub if you have general queries.
NHS treatment if you get Covid-19
NHS treatment for Coronavirus (Covid-19) is free for everyone. For more information, see advice from the UK Council for International Students (UKCISA).