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Visa applications and credibility interviews
You will need a Student visa (formerly known as a Tier 4 visa) to study at the the Durham University International Study Centre.
The UK has introduced a new Student visa route which is to form part of the new Points-Based immigration system. This new route has replaced the current Tier 4 route.
EEA nationals outside the UK will now apply under this route after 5th October 2020, for entry to the UK from 1st January 2021. For all other nationals, this new route took effect from 9am on 5th October 2020. You can see an overview of the changes here.
Will I be eligible for a student visa?
There are three main requirements for those who want to study in the UK:
- You have been offered a place on a course
- You must have received a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies from Study Group)
- You can speak, read, write and understand English
- You have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course
When should I apply for a visa?
You should make sure you apply early, to leave enough time for your application to be processed. The earliest you can apply is six months before your course begins.
If you are applying for a visa within the UK, the earliest you can apply is three months before your course begins.
If you are a European Economic Area (EEA) national, you will need to apply for a Student visa prior to entering the UK in January 2021.
How long can I stay in the UK on a student visa?
In addition to the period of leave given to you to carry out your course of study, permission to stay will also be granted depending on your length of course.
The visa process
In order to apply for your visa, you must:
- First, apply for the programme of your choice at the International Study Centre, and receive an offer.
- Next, you must send the requested documents to be checked by the Admissions team or your Student Enrolment Adviser.
- You will then pay a deposit and CAS payment.
- Your CAS will be issued. This means you can apply for your visa.
- You may be invited to a credibility interview.
- You will be contacted by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) regarding the outcome of your visa application.
How we can help
If you applied to study with us directly through our online application form; your Student Enrolment Advisor is available to help with all visa-related enquiries, such as help booking your visa interview and IELTS exam. Our team speak more than a dozen languages so you can feel comfortable and supported throughout this time. Your Student Enrolment Advisor can also offer you a free in-country visa agent service to handle your visa application, if you require it.
Working during your pathway programme
If you hold a Student visa to study at the International Study Centre you are entitled to work during your pathway programme. For more information on working during your studies, visit UKCISA.
Conditions of a Student visa
The new Student visa route is replacing the Tier 4 route. The purpose of the Student visa is for students to come to the UK to study. If you wish to work, it must be to gain work experience in your field of study. This could be taking a part-time role within an established business or organisation, such as a customer service position or as part of a work placement.
If you stop studying without completing your course, you will no longer be entitled to work and will be in breach of the conditions of the visa if you do work.
A student visa allows you to work for a maximum of 10 hours per week during the term time of any course below degree level (for example your pathway programme), and a maximum of 20 hours per week during any course at degree level.
You can work full-time (up to 40 hours per week) during official holiday periods. This also applies to English language preparation programme students. This is the maximum number of hours you are allowed to work in any one week, including paid or unpaid work for one or more organisations. This cannot be averaged over a longer period. A ‘week’ is defined by the Home Office as a period of seven days and begins on a Monday.
Type of work
If you work and hold a Student visa, you must not:
- be employed as a doctor in training (except on a recognised Foundation programme)
- be employed as a professional sportsperson, including a sports coach
- be employed as an entertainer
- be self-employed, except if you are awaiting a decision on an application you have made for leave to remain as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur
- engage in business activities
- fill a full-time, permanent vacancy (except on a recognised foundation programme or as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer).
Visa credibility interviews
You may be required to attend a credibility interview to ensure that you comply with the UK’s immigration rules. The purpose is for an Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) to establish that you are a genuine student. You need to show you are serious, and that you have good knowledge of your chosen university and course. If you have done your research, the interview is nothing to worry about. The process is just designed to filter out people who are planning to use a student visa to work or holiday in the UK.
Will I need an interview?
Whether or not you will be invited for a credibility interview depends on which country you are applying from. However, the UKVI reserve the right to interview students from any country if they think it is necessary to do so.
How will the interview happen?
Credibility interviews normally take place in your local Visa Application Centre, via a video link. You will be interviewed by an ECO based in the UK.
How should I prepare?
What questions will I be asked?
Below are some examples of questions you may be asked. Think carefully before answering, because interviewers expect you to take the process seriously. Be honest, and avoid yes and no answers. Talk as naturally as possible; you do not want to look like you are repeating pre-prepared answers.
- Why did you choose the Durham University International Study Centre?
What made you choose the Durham University International Study Centre, rather than another institution? Consider what your reasons are for choosing to study at this institution, and ensure you are able to communicate these with your interviewer.
- Did you consider other courses?
Tell the interviewer about your research. Did you look at other options, and how did you decide this course was the best for you? How will it fit in with your future career plans?
- Why do you want to study in the UK?
With so many countries offering higher education, why does the UK appeal the most?
- Why did you choose the Durham University International Study Centre?
Do you plan to work in the UK?
Make clear that your main purpose for being in the UK is to study, and that any employment or work placement would be to gain practical work experience in your field of study. Show that you understand that you won’t be relying on any earnings to fund your education or living costs. You should show that you understand the number of hours you are permitted to work during your studies, both in term time and holiday periods.
What if my visa is refused?
If you do meet the criteria set out in UKVI’s immigration rules, your application will be refused. If you receive a visa refusal, you have 28 days to submit an Administrative Review to the UKVI and contest the decision made by the ECO. This requires you to respond in writing to each of the points raised in the refusal and you must submit your Administrative Review from outside the UK.
If you are applying from the UK and your visa is refused, you must apply for an administrative review within 14 days of getting the decision.
Our free support service helps you through every stage of the application process, offering visa, accommodation and arrivals help in a variety of languages.
Find out the entry requirements for your course.
Our pathway programmes prepare you for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree at Durham University. Choose from the International Foundation Year, Pre-Masters and English Language Preparation programmes.