Dear Colleagues,

BSA continues to lobby on behalf of members to improve COVID travel restrictions and issues for boarders. 

We have received the following updates from the English and Welsh education departments and as soon as we have further updates we will issue an alert.


Thank you for making us aware of various issues being experienced by pupils seeking travel to the UK – we realise that this is a critical point with pupils preparing to travel. We’ve engaged colleagues from DHSC, Home Office/Border Force, and DfT today to try to close off issues and bring as much clarity as we can. In summary, here are the latest developments:

Entry to the UK on a visitor visa

  • Regarding your query below about pupils studying for up to 6 months on a visitor visa, we have received confirmation from the Home Office that there are no restrictions on the entry of any types of visitors if they are coming from amber (or green) countries. Therefore a schoolchild attending a boarding school as a visitor arriving from an amber country simply needs to satisfy the Border Force Officer on arrival that they are a genuine visitor under the rules as usual.
  • This is not the position in relation to red list country arrivals; the UK is currently not accepting visitors from red list countries. The position remains that the only visitor visa applications being approved from red list countries are those where the applicant has an exceptional case for travelling to the UK and similarly non-visa national visitors from red list countries are only being granted permission to enter in exceptional cases. Therefore, under the current position, Border Force would not grant a visitor visa to a child coming to study here from a red list country nor grant a child visitor entry on arrival from a red list country as they would not have an exceptional case for entry.
  • In summary:
    • A child from a red list country seeking to enter to study on a visitor visa should be advised not to travel.
    • A child from an amber (or green) country seeking to study on a visitor visa can travel and seek entry from a Border Force Officer as usual.

Cathay Pacific pupil denied travel

  • We have provided your example about Cathay Pacific turning a Chinese pupil away to the DfT and requested that they communicate the latest position on quarantine and testing for boarding school pupils to airlines and stakeholders.

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