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Visa Information

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.

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 our Admissions team)
  • 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.

You can receive your CAS up to 6 months before your course start date if you reside outside the UK, and up to 3 months if you are in the UK.

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 Advisor.
  • 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. 

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.

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.

If you work and hold a Student visa, you must not:

  • be self-employed or engage in business activity
  • take employment as an entertainer or as a professional sportsperson, including a
    sports coach
  • fill a full-time permanent vacancy 

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.

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.

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.

Make sure you have done some detailed research on the Durham University International Study Centre, as well as accommodation options, costs, and the local area. Also familiarise yourself with the content of your chosen course.

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?

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.

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Entry requirements

Find out the entry requirements for your course.

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Find out the tuition fees for your course.

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Application support

We can help you throughout the entire application process. Check out our guide to applying and contact us if you have any other questions.

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Contact us

Do you have questions about studying with us? Check out our frequently asked questions or enquire with your own question using our online form.


Our student enrolment advisors are here to help with your application and answer any questions you have about studying with us.