Travel and visas | University of Oxford
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Travel and visa

Travel and visas

Last updated Friday 16 April 2021 


Travelling to Oxford

International students will be supported to return in time to take part in in-person teaching in Trinity term where necessary. However, if you do not have a large amount of in-person teaching or assessments which require you to be in Oxford, you may wish to take advantage of the residency exemption, particularly if you are in a ‘red list’ country (see below).

Please refer to the student coronavirus homepage before returning.

If you are permitted to travel back to Oxford, you must follow national and international travel guidance. You will need to take a COVID-19 test less than three days before you travel to the UK. This can be either a PCR test or a lateral flow device (LFD) test. Whichever test you choose, it must be from a reputable supplier. You will need to have documentation of a negative result before you are allowed to travel, and will also need to provide proof upon entry to the UK. Go to the UK Government website for more information about tests before you travel. The University and colleges will not routinely meet the costs of tests for students returning from outside the UK.

If you are from a country on the ‘red-list’ you must read the latest Government guidance about whether you are able to travel, or whether you will need to quarantine in a government approved hotel.

We advise you to take advantage of the residency exemption, unless you have substantial in-person teaching commitments.

The University and colleges will not routinely meet quarantine costs for students returning from red list countries (currently £1,750). You will not be eligible to seek support from hardship funds upfront to enable you to return. However, in some instances where the costs of testing or quarantine are a contributory factor in student hardship, it may be possible for some support to be provided from the University’s COVID-19 Hardship Fund.

Please note that residence rights referred to in this guidance means student or work visa holders, those with indefinite leave, or other categories as explained on the right to reside page, but excluding visitor visas.

For students who are allowed to return, there are no restrictions within England on travelling to and from Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

You may be able to reduce your self-isolation times through the Government's 'Test to Release' scheme.

Support will be available for international students needing to self-isolate in College or University accommodation. See the Colleges and Accommodations page for more information. 

All students from outside the UK or Ireland will also have to complete the public health passenger locator form before travelling to the UK.

We have prepared a new guide to help you navigate your way from Heathrow or Gatwick airport, or the Eurostar terminal, to Oxford with some tips you should read before you travel.

Travelling from Oxford

Travelling from Oxford to other parts of the UK

The Government currently advises students to minimise travel. Its guidance states that you should not leave your term-time accommodation, unless you can demonstrate that you have an exemption from the national restrictions on leaving home (go to the student coronavirus homepage for information about exemptions during the Easter vacation).  

Travelling from the UK to other countries

  • Personal travel
    You can only travel internationally where you have a legally permitted reason to do so. If you are thinking of travelling overseas you should make sure that you have a legal reason for travelling, and that you comply with all relevant UK and international travel advice. Please note that it is currently illegal to travel internationally for leisure or tourism purposes.

  • Travelling for educational purposes
    UK Government restrictions allow students to travel, by exception, for educational purposes. (such as for field trips, or for research). If you plan to travel internationally for educational purposes, you will require the advance approval of your Head of Department or Faculty Board Chair. They will balance the need for the travel against the risks involved, to ensure that only essential travel takes place, and only in exceptional circumstances. Requests will only be considered once a risk assessment has been approved by your supervisor and the University Safety Office. Please talk to your tutor or supervisor at the earliest opportunity and they will be able to provide advice and support.

Remote study and your student visa  

 The Home Office has worked closely with Universities UK to agree a flexible system for the 2020/21 academic year so that if any period of remote study is required, this can be managed around any visa requirements.  
This will now apply for Hilary term 2021, so your student visa will remain valid (if you continue to be enrolled) for you to return to Oxford at a later date. If you are a postgraduate research student and you are unable to carry out your studies remotely, you should discuss this with your supervisor in the first instance. If your supervisor agrees a suspension is possible, we may be able to keep the visa valid for this short period and for you to return at a later date. 

For Trinity term 2021, if you are a student in a non-practical subject we will not be able to confirm until after 5 April at the earliest whether you will be able to return to Oxford under Government guidelines. Your visa will remain valid whilst you remain enrolled and as long as you need to study remotely. We will contact you as soon as we know the Government position in April 2021.

Support for student visa applications

For students who need to apply for a Student visa, the Student Immigration team is available to help with any queries. Most visa centres around the world are now open although local government restrictions continue to affect some regions or countries opening all/some of the visa centres in that country. 

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 or local area.

Please note that you must attend your biometrics appointment and obtain your Student visa before coming to the UK. You cannot arrive as a visitor and switch status once you arrive here. We cannot enrol you on a visitor visa so you would not be able to start your course. 

For EU/EEA/Swiss nationals

If you are a national of the EU/EEA or Switzerland and were living in the UK before 31 December 2020 you will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. If you arrived 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 Student visa. See the student visa webpages for further information.

For more information about Brexit and the EU Settlement Scheme, please see the student visa webpages for further information.

Hong Kong BN(O) Visa for British National (Overseas) citizens

A new visa route for BN(O) citizens to come to or stay in the UK will open from 31 January 2021. Please visit the Government website for more information and updates, including visa requirement details. If you are a BN(O) citizen, you can apply even if you don’t have a BN(O) passport. Close family members can also apply at the same time.  

Year abroad students

If you are on a year abroad, please visit the Study abroad FAQs page for specific information and general guidance.

Please refer to the FAQs page for more information about travel and visas.

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