Information for agents

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Last updated: 09:00 on Thursday 26 March 2020

Covid-19 - English UK's information for agents

Everyone in our industry is facing unprecedented challenges during the Covid-19 crisis. We want to restate our message of support and sympathy to all those affected by the pandemic, and keep you updated on the measures in place in the UK.

To receive our Covid-19 email updates for agents, make sure you and your colleagues opt in:

Current situation in the UK

Last updated: 09:00 on Thursday 26 March 2020

Publicly-funded education institutions across the UK closed on Friday 20 March 2020 until further notice in order to help slow the spread of Covid-19.

English UK recommended that all UK English language teaching (ELT) centres also closed at the end of the day on Friday 20 March in line with publicly funded education institutions.

This is a public health emergency: we believe it is vital that our sector follows national advice as our priority must always be our duty of care to students, staff and the wider community.

View further information for English UK members on caring for students who are currently studying in centres during this time. We will continue to support our members and help everyone to weather this storm.

On Monday 16 March 2020 the UK Government announced new measures to delay the spread of Covid-19. They have advised everyone in the UK to stop non-essential contact with other people and avoid all unnecessary travel:

  • No non-essential travel
  • Work from home if possible
  • Avoid social venues like pubs, clubs and theatres
  • Anyone living with someone who has a cough or a temperature should stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days

We are monitoring the situation closely and will support ELT centres in re-opening and welcoming students from around the world as soon as it is the right time to do so.


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Opportunities to move learning online

Last updated: 09:00 on Thursday 26 March 2020

We have been supporting our members as best we can through webinars and best-practice advice, including guidance on moving course delivery online. We know some providers have already moved some of their teaching online. 

With many people around the world unable to access face-to-face teaching, we hope English UK members can continue to support individual students and school groups with their English language learning needs through these alternative methods of delivery. 


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Visa extensions for students who cannot leave the UK

Last updated: 11:00 on Tuesday 24 March 2020

On 24 March the UK's Home Office announced provisions for international students who are unable to leave the UK due to reasons relating to Covid-19. 

For full details see the Home Office's Coronavirus (COVID-19) factsheet: visa holders and short-term residents in the UK (24 March 2020).

Students who cannot leave the UK can apply for a free visa extension to 31 May

Students can apply if they unable to leave the UK, and if they have a visa which has expired, or is due to expire, between 24 January and 31 May 2020.

Extensions are not automatically issued. Students must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team at the Home Office:

  • Email: 
  • Phone: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, calls are free of charge)

Students must share the the following details:

  • full name (include any middle names)
  • date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
  • nationality
  • previous visa reference number
  • reason they can't go back to their home country (for example flight suspensions, border closure, self-isolation)

Students will be notified when their visa has been extended. During this time students can continue to study online.

Students who are unable to leave will not be regarded as overstayers. On 24 March 2020 the Home Office said that:

"No individual who is in the UK legally, but whose visa is due to, or has already expired, and who cannot leave because of travel restrictions related to COVID-19, will be regarded as an overstayer, or suffer any detriment in the future".

Students with a visa are now allowed to study from home

Due to the UK's current self-isolation and social distancing rules, the Home Office has relaxed visa conditions and students are allowed to study from home.

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Guidance on making new UK student visa applications

Students who wish to study in the UK long-term can now apply for a Tier 4 visa from within the UK

The Home Office has made it possible for students with a short-term study visa to make a Tier 4 application from within the UK, if they are already here and unable to travel home to make the application.

They will still need to meet all the other Tier 4 visa requirements. The deadline for applying under this provision is 31 May 2020.

Students should contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre before applying, to check if they are eligible. Email contact is preferable, so that they have the advice in writing. 

Eligible students should apply online, despite the fact that many biometric appointment centres in the UK are currently closed. The Home Office says: 'Individuals will not be regarded as an overstayer or be subject to enforcement action if they are unable to attend a biometric appointment due to Covid-19 or if there are delays in processing your application.'

Students who want to apply for a UK study visa from outside of the UK

Students who are applying or intend to apply for a visa should check with their local application service for further information on opening and services that are available. 

An increasing number of visa application centres are closed or only offering limited services currently.

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Frequently asked questions

Last updated: 09:00 on Thursday 26 March 2020

We don't have all the answers, but we will do our best to provide advice for agents to help you plan for when study travel returns to normal.

If you have a question that is not answered on this page, please email

When will UK language school be able to reopen?

We don't know when schools in the UK will be able to reopen. We will monitor this situation closely and will support ELT centres in re-opening and welcoming students from around the world as soon as it is the right time to do so.

Our priority is always our duty of care to students, staff and the wider community. At the time time, we want all stakeholders to maintain their relationships, and be ready to do business as soon as it's safe for student travel to resume.

Will summer schools be open in 2020?

Many summer schools are planning and recruiting staff for summer 2020, and they are open for bookings and enquiries. We encourage agents to speak directly to each of their summer school partners, to understand their plans and find a way to work together towards the summer.

We hope that with flexible terms and conditions from your partners, you will be able to confirm bookings despite the uncertainties we are facing over the next months.

What happens with students who have been granted a study visa, but are unable to travel? 

We don't know yet if there will be any provisions from UK Visas and Immigration for these students. We are speaking to UKVI and asking for some flexibility to help students who need to postpone their courses.