Visa information

Applying for a visa

In order to study in the UK at Durham University International Study Centre, you will need a Tier 4 (General) student visa.

How do I apply for a student visa?

Your student visa application will work via a points-based system; if you score 40 points you will be granted a visa. In order to apply for your visa, you must first:

  • Apply for your chosen programme at Durham University International Study Centre.
  • Receive an offer of a place.
  • Send documents to be checked by the Admissions team or your Student Enrolment Advisor, including IELTS scores, financial information, tuberculosis certificate and academic results if you have already received them).
  • Pay a deposit and CAS payment.
  • Receive a CAS. This is worth 30 points. 
  • Apply for your visa, providing financial statements which prove that you have the funds to cover the course and your living costs. This will get you a further 10 points.
  • You may also be required to attend a credibility interview.
  • You will be contacted by UK Visas and Immigration to let you know whether or not your visa application has been successful.

How will I be supported?

If you applied to study with us directly through our online application form, your Student Enrolment Advisor will be available for support and guidance throughout the process in more than a dozen languages. They can answer any questions you have about applying for a visa, as well as providing advice and support throughout the application process, including help booking your visa interview and IELTS exam. Your Student Enrolment Advisor can also offer you a free in-country visa agent service to handle your visa application, if you require it.

When should I apply for a visa?

You can apply for a visa from three months before the start date of your course at the International Study Centre. Apply early to make sure there is enough time for your application to be processed. To learn more about the visa application process, visit the official government website.

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, leave to remain will also be granted depending on your length of course. See section 5.66 in Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance document to find out more.

Can I work during my pathway programme?

If you are a Tier 4 student, you are entitled to work during your pathway programme at the International Study Centre providing that your visa is granted on or after 1 August 2019.

The main purpose of the Tier 4 visa route is for students to come to the UK to study. Where a student is permitted to work, the intention is that this should be an opportunity to gain work experience in their field of study or to supplement their income whilst studying.  In most cases we expect this to be a part-time role for an established business/organisation (for example, a customer service role at a retailer). You can also work as part of a work placement, provided it is an integral and assessed part of your course.

A Tier 4 visa allows you to work for a maximum of 10 hours per week during term-time for any course you study below degree level or 20 hours per week during term-time for any course at degree level. This is the maximum hours in any one week, including paid or unpaid work and for one or more organisation. A 'week' is defined by the Home Office as a period of 7 days beginning with a Monday.

Whilst working on a Tier 4 visa, you are not able to:

  • 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 where you are awaiting a decision on an application for leave to remain as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur
  • engage in business activity
  • fill a full-time, permanent vacancy (except on a recognised foundation programme or as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer).

If you stop studying before completing your course, you will no longer be entitled to work and will be in breach of your visa conditions.

Visa credibility interviews

A credibility interview - also known as a visa interview - is carried out by an Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) to establish that you are a genuine student. Not everyone will have one; it depends on which country you are applying from. If they believe you may be planning to use a student visa for holiday or work, they will refuse your visa application. The interview is nothing to worry about; you just need to show that you have done your research and are coming to the UK for the right reasons.

Where will my credibility interview take place?

You will normally be interviewed at the visa application centre when you submit your visa application documents. This interview is via a secure video system and you will be interviewed by a UKVI member of staff who is in the UK.

How should I prepare for a credibility interview?

Make sure you have researched the International Study Centre and your chosen course. Avoid yes and no answers, and try and go into more detail. The Entry Clearance Officer may be suspicious if they think you are repeating rehearsed answers. 

What questions will I be asked in my credibility interview?

Below are some examples of questions commonly asked in credibility interviews:

What made this University stand out from the rest when you were deciding where to apply?

You need to demonstrate that you researched other options, and why you decided to apply for your chosen course at Durham University.

Given the large costs associated with studying abroad, students should have an understanding of how they will pay for their education. 

Tell the interviewer why you hope studying at Durham University will help you finding a good job in the future.

You need to show that you have made living arrangements before you arrive. 

It is important that you make it clear your main purpose for being in the UK is to study and that any employment or work placement is to gain practical work experience in your field of study.

You must also be clear that you understand that you will not be relying on any earnings you receive through working whilst studying to pay your programme fees and living costs. These must still be evidenced as part of your visa application. You should also demonstrate that you understand the number of hours you are allowed to work during your studies.

What if my student visa is refused?

If you do not 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 challenge the decision made by the ECO. You will need to respond in writing to each of the points raised in the refusal.

Admissions support

An international student on a laptop at Durham University International Study Centre

Our free support service helps you through every stage of the application process, offering visa, accommodation and arrivals help in a variety of languages.

Entry requirements

Find out the entry requirements for your course.

Pathway programmes

International students in class at Durham University Queen's Campus

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.