COVID-19: Tier 4 student Sponsors’ change in duties
By now, most Tier 4 Students are prevented from attending classes due to illness, self-isolation or travel restrictions caused by COVID-19.
Waiver from Absence reporting
The Home Office recognises the current situation is exceptional and will not take any compliance action against Tier 4 Students and Sponsors who continue sponsorship despite attendance problems due to COVID-19 restrictions. For the affected time being, Tier 4 Sponsors do not need to:
- Report students’ authorised absences related to Coronavirus
- Withdraw sponsorship if there are exceptional circumstances when a student is unable to attend the course for more than 60 days
Nevertheless, Tier 4 Sponsors have to make independent decisions on whether to withdraw a Tier 4 Student from their studies. The usual Sponsor reporting requirements apply if a student has permanently withdrawn from, or formally deferred, their studies.
Many Tier 4 Sponsors have resorted to online teaching methods in the meantime to enable students to continue with their course. Sponsoring existing Tier 4 Students through distance learning is allowed, whether they are in the UK or abroad. Transitioning to distance learning does not currently trigger Sponsor’s reporting to the Home Office.
Tier 4 Sponsors do not need to withdraw Sponsorship if new international students who have been issued a Tier 4 Student Visa are unable to travel to the UK and are permitted to undertake distance learning instead.
These temporary arrangements apply until 31 May 2020. Thereafter, the Home Office shall review them and issue further advice for Sponsors should the current circumstances persist.