As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to cause great feelings of worry, fear and uncertainty, it’s more important than ever that everyone remains well informed over the appropriate steps that need to be taken.
The challenges facing both the authorities and the general public are vast and varied, as every effort is made to restrict the spread of the virus and protect the health of as many people as possible. In the UK, prime minister Boris Johnson announced an initial three-week lockdown on March 23rd, and it seems inevitable that protective measures will remain in place for much longer.
For the majority of the UK, that means staying at home as much as possible, only venturing out for essential supplies and taking one form of outdoor exercise per day. But what about the non-UK nationals currently residing on these shores?
Data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency reveals there were 485,645 international students in the UK for the 2018-19 academic year. Assuming that number remains largely the same 12 months on, that’s almost half a million people living away from home and potentially worrying about what the Covid-19 outbreak means for them. Here are a few key pieces of information as well as advice on the best course of action in these troubling times.
Visas will not be revoked and extensions will be granted
The Home Office and UK Visas and Immigration have published advice for Tier 2, 4 and 5 sponsors that their visas will not be withdrawn if they are studying from home or self-isolating. Furthermore, the Home Office has announced that all foreign nationals in the UK will be granted visa extensions until May 31st.
Seek legal advice if necessary
In these unprecedented times, it stands to reason that international students may wish to gain a further understanding of their position. Getting in touch with a specialist immigration lawyer may help to clarify the situation, as experts in the field should be able to offer sound, impartial advice on your rights and the options open to you.
Avoid travelling home
Government advice is to stay put as much as possible and avoid non-essential travel. Although the desire to return home is perfectly natural and understandable, remaining within halls of residence is the best course of action to curb the spread of the virus. If students do opt to go home, it’s likely they will have to quarantine themselves for a period of two to three weeks to guard against the possibility of passing the virus on to somebody else in the event that they are a carrier.