Tuesday 17 March 2020 4:27 AM UTC
LONDON March 17: The Boris Johnson government has eased visa norms for Indian and other non-EU students and professionals who are in the country in view of the coronavirus challenge, while many British tourists have cancelled their trips to India, Hindustan Times reported.
The Home Office said Indian and other international students and professionals with work visas may be prevented from attending their studies or employment due to illness and the need to serve a period of quarantine or the inability to travel due to travel restrictions caused by coronavirus.
Student visas are tied to teaching and universities are obliged to report any absences by visa holders to the Home Office. The Indian high commission has a public response unit for citizens seeking help, and has widely publicised changes announced by New Delhi.
The Home Office said absences of student from campuses or employee need not be reported. Universities and employers also do not need to withdraw sponsorship to their visas if they consider there are exceptional circumstances when a student will be unable to attend for more than 60 days.
“The Home Office recognises the current situation is exceptional and will not take any compliance action against students or employees who are unable to attend their studies/work due to the coronavirus outbreak, or against sponsors which authorise absences and continue to sponsor students or employees despite absences for this reason”, it said.
Meanwhile, Indian and other non-EU students have voiced concern over steps taken by several universities, such as receiving conflicting messages in some universities to “go home” ahead of Easter vacations next week.
Sanam Arora of the National Indian Students & Alumni Union UK said: “Our observations and feedback received from Indian students so far is overwhelmingly positive towards teaching being made online.
In cases where this hasn’t already been done petitions have been launched to make universities consider online teaching and assessments”.
“Students tell us that they want to travel back to India but are concerned on the impact to their studies and whether they will be able to return or not.
Our advice is to speak to their universities and seek authorised absence”, she added.
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