UK student visa information

About student visas

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

We offer support to all our direct applicants going through the visa process. Our Student Enrolment Advisors can offer visa support in more than a dozen languages, including help with 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.

Most students will require a student visa in order to study in the UK. If you require a student visa, the application process is as follows:

  • Apply for your chosen course at the University of Surrey International Study Centre.
  • Receive an offer of a place on the course.
  • Send the requested documents to be checked by the Admissions team or your Student Enrolment Adviser. This may include a tuberculosis certificate, your IELTS scores, financial statements and exam results if you have them.
  • Pay a deposit and CAS payment.
  • Receive a Certificate of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).
  • Apply for your visa by submitting relevant documents required for the visa application, including financial documents which prove that you have the funds to cover the costs of course and living expenses.
  • 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 granted.

You may apply for a visa up to three months before the start date of your course at the International Study Centre. How long it will take depends on which country you are applying from and which service you use for your visa application. Make sure there is enough time for your application to be processed by applying early.

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.


Working during your 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. In most cases we expect this to be taking a part-time role for an established business or organisation, such as a customer service role at a retailer, or as part of a work placement.

A Tier 4 visa allows students to work for a maximum of 10 hours per week during term time for any course below degree level or 20 hours per week during term-time for any course at degree level. Students on a Tier 4 visa can work full time (up to 40 hours per week) during term breaks, including students studying English language preparation programmes. This is the maximum hours in any one week, including paid or unpaid work and for one or more organisation. This cannot be averaged over a longer period. A 'week' is defined by the Home Office as a period of 7 days beginning with a Monday.

If allowed to work as part of their Tier 4 visa, students 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 the student is awaiting a decision on an application they 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)

If a student stops studying without completing the course, they will no longer be entitled to work and will be in breach of the conditions of the visa if they work.

For a comprehensive guide to working during your studies visit UKCISA.

Visa credibility interviews

You may be asked to attend a credibility interview as part of your visa application.

A credibility interview is carried out by an Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) to establish that you are a genuine student, and not planning to use a student visa for holiday or work. 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.

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

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.

Some questions you may be asked during your credibility interview include:

  • How will you fund your time in the UK?
    Show how you will be paying your tuition fees and living costs

  • How did you choose your course?
    Talk about the course you will be studying, why it interests you, and how you believe it will help you in your career

  • Why do you want to study at the University of Surrey?
    Talk about why you decided to choose the University of Surrey and explain why you chose it over other universities

  • Do you plan to work in the UK?
  • It's important that you make it clear that 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 also must be clear that you understand that you won't rely on any earnings you receive through working whilst studying to pay programme fees and living costs. These must still be evidenced as part of your visa application. You should also demonstrate that you understand of the number of hours you are allowed to work during your studies.

If your visa application is refused by the UKVI, 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.

We’re opening – Read our latest pre-arrival guidance, or find out more about starting your course.