MUSCAT- As part of its commitment to enhance the visa system experience for students, United Kingdom Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has introduced flexibility in visa rules, with health precautions throughout the visa system along with visa services partner VFS Global, to ensure a comfortable and safe environment for all customers, especially incoming international students.
Health precautions across the visa system
In order to ensure a safe environment for customers and employees, VFS Global has established standardised protective measures to be followed across all its UK Visa Application Centres. To ensure health safety norms are followed, the centres have implemented a mandatory appointment system, besides checking body temperature of all customers at the entrance, and maintaining physical distancing measures. Additionally, staff also carry out preventive measures such as disinfecting high-contact surfaces, body temperature screenings, use of hand sanitisers, regular hand washing, etc.
Since 28 June 2020, UK Visa Application Centres have re-opened in GCC countries in a phased manner: Bahrain (Manama), Kuwait (Kuwait City), Saudi Arabia (Al Khobar, Jeddah, Riyadh), Oman (Muscat), Qatar (Doha), and United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabu and Dubai) – and these centres are receiving Tier 4 applications. All of the above locations are operational subject to local lockdown regulations.
Students who begin courses online can apply for visa later
To limit disruption caused by ongoing COVID-19 travel restrictions, UKVI is allowing incoming international students to apply for study (Tier 4) visa when they are due to travel to the UK, rather than the start of their course. This means students who have already gained admission can begin their courses online and apply for a UK study visa when they are ready to do so.
New Graduate Immigration Route policy enhanced
The new Graduate Immigration Route that allows students who complete undergraduate or Master’s degrees to stay and work, look for work, and gain experience in the UK for up to two years (three years for PhD students) from Summer 2021, has been modified to accommodate students who start their courses overseas, online. These students will be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route, provided they are in the UK before 6 April 2021 and complete the final semester of their studies in the UK.
The Graduate Immigration Route policy was announced in September 2019 to help the UK attract and retain even more of the best international graduates, ensuring those graduates secure skilled jobs and contribute to the UK’s economic growth.
‘On-Demand Mobile Visa’ to apply for a visa at your doorstep
All visa customers, including students, can also avail of the optional On-Demand Mobile Visa service* that enables them to submit their visa application and enrol biometrics from the comfort and safety of their home. Once a visa decision is reached, passports can be couriered to the customer’s home. Customers in the GCC can visit www.vfsglobal.com to book this service at attractive rates.
*Booking the On-Demand Mobile Visa does not guarantee quicker turnaround times or a positive decision on visas, that are at the sole discretion of UKVI. Operation of this service is subject to local lockdown regulations, and is currently unavailable in Oman due to restrictions in that country.
You can access more information on UK student visas here.