Travel and visas | University of Oxford
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Travel and visa

Travel and visas

We hope all students will be able to come to live and study in Oxford from the start of the next academic year.

Residing in Oxford

Students are expected to reside in Oxford during term time (excluding part-time and some DPhil students), and normal residency requirements will be in place for full-time students from the start of the next academic year.

We recognise that arriving for the start of Michaelmas (autumn) term may not be possible for some students (for example if you are unable to travel), and that others will have some level of anxiety about going away to University.

If you would like to discuss your concerns, or you feel you need to apply for a residency exemption, you should discuss this first with your college (undergraduate students) or department (graduate students). A completed application form will need to be endorsed by your department and signed by your college.

Individual departments may provide exemptions for student cohorts on specific courses. If this is the case, your department will be in touch in the near future. If you feel you need to apply for a residency exemption because of your personal circumstances, you do not need to wait to hear from your department, and should instead  discuss this with your college or department as soon as possible.

Academic and welfare support will be available for students needing to self-isolate. Please see ‘colleges and accommodation’ and ‘teaching and learning sections for more information.

Support for student visa applications

For students who need to apply for a Tier 4 visa, we have created an in-depth document about the visa application process to support you, and the Student Immigration team is available to help with any queries. Visa centres have already reopened in many countries, and further centres will reopen over the summer. The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) was closed for two months in April and May, but opened again on 1 June and processing times are the same as last year. The UK government’s Home Office have allocated extra resources this summer to ensure visa applications can be processed promptly.

A comprehensive guide to completing the online visa application is available on the student visa webpages which contains links to check if the visa centre is open in your country. It also contains instructions about how to arrange to collect your biometric residence permit (BRP) at your college during the enrolment process.

Please note that you must obtain your Tier 4 visa before coming to the UK. You cannot arrive as a visitor and switch status once you arrive here. If your visa application is very delayed, or the visa centre is not open, you must contact the Student Immigration team for advice.

The Home Office have worked closely with UK Universities to agree a flexible system so that if any period of online study is required, this can be managed around any visa requirements. If this applies to your situation, we will discuss further details as needed.

For EU/EEA/Swiss nationals

The UK Government has confirmed that the rights of EU/EEA/Swiss students will not change until 31 December 2020 and that all citizens of the EU/EEA/Switzerland who are living in the UK before 31 December 2020 will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. If you are coming to the UK before 31 December 2020 you will not require a visa. If you arrive on or after 1 January 2021 and you do not have settled or pre-settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme, you will require a Tier 4 visa. For more information about Brexit, please see the Oxford and the EU page on the University website.

Travel and visas FAQs

A selection of FAQs for all students and offer holders about colleges and accommodation. For more detailed information, please see the FAQs section of this site.

Travel

I don’t think I will be able to be in Oxford for the start of Michaelmas (autumn) term. What should I do?

We encourage all students to be in Oxford from the start of the academic year. If you believe this might not be possible, you should speak to your college (undergraduate students) or department (graduate students) in the first instance. If you wish to be exempt from residency requirements, you will need to complete an application form, which must be endorsed by your department and signed by your college. 

Visas

If there are reasons why I need to study remotely from my home country or another country, will it affect my Tier 4 visa?

We encourage all students to take up their places in Oxford from the start of the academic year. However, if your college and department agree to an exemption from residency, and you do not arrive in the UK from the start of the year, it will not affect your Tier 4 visa and it will remain valid.

Is the ATAS Scheme now open for applications?

The scheme was temporarily closed in April and May but reopened on Monday 1 June. The processing time will be 30 working days as normal. 

Where can I get further help for Tier 4 visas, EU Settlement Scheme or other visa queries?

The Home Office has recently published new guidance for Tier 4 students (PDF) with the University as your sponsor and also additional information for short-term students. This covers many of the disruptions that may be caused for international students and what you should do next.

It is also taking longer than usual to process EU Settlement Scheme applications because of the Coronavirus. The Government has provided information on the delays and help available. If you have any further queries, please see the student visa pages and contact Student Immigration if you need help.

In terms of the impact of Brexit, the UK Government has said that the rights of EU students will not change until 31 December 2020 and that all citizens of the EU, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who are living in the UK before 31 December 2020 will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).  If you are currently living in the UK, or have left the UK temporarily but plan to return (before 31 December 2020), you have until 30 June 2021 to apply to the EUSS.

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