The Home Office holds credibility interviews for most Tier 4 (General) student visa applicants applying from overseas.
Not everyone will be asked to attend an interview. Nationals of ‘low risk’ countries are unlikely to be interviewed.
Some students applying to extend their Tier 4 visa in the UK may also be asked to attend a credibility interview.
What is a credibility interview?
A credibility interview will be conducted by the Home Office to establish whether you are a genuine student. The interview is also an opportunity for the Home Office to check that you can speak English to the required standard. When assessing a student’s credibility the Home office are required to take into account all of the information provided in your visa application as well as the answers you provide in your credibility interview.
How will I know about the interview?
If you are applying from overseas
You will usually be interviewed at your biometrics appointment, immediately after you have submitted your documents and enrolled your biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) at the visa application centre.
You may be asked to attend a second interview. The Home Office may contact you via telephone or email to arrange your interview time and location. Check your email regularly, including your ‘Junk’ folder to ensure you do not miss communication about your appointment. If you provided more than one email address on your visa application form, check all of the email addresses provided.
If you are applying for a Tier 4 (General) student visa extension in the UK
You will receive a letter or email after you have submitted your online application telling you that you have been selected for interview and with further information about the time and location of the interview. This may not be in London and you may have to travel to another part of the UK to attend the interview.
You are given a deadline to confirm your attendance, you must respond before the deadline. It is very important that you attend your interview even if it is inconvenient. If you have a genuine and compelling reason for not being able to attend the interview in the UK, please contact Student Advice for further advice as soon as possible.
If you have selected one of the priority methods of service, it is highly unlikely that you will receive a decision within the advertised priority standards. You will not be issued with a refund if an application cannot be processed within the advertised time periods due to credibility checks.
What will happen at the interview?
The credibility interview is an important part of the visa application process. It is your chance to show that you are a genuine and credible student so it is essential that you prepare for the interview and take it seriously.
The initial interview
The initial interview is conducted by video chat, with a member of staff from the Home Office based in the UK and is likely to last between 5 and 10 minutes. The interviewing officer will introduce themselves and confirm your personal details such as your nationality, name, date of birth, course and course start date. You will also be asked whether you are fit and well enough to be interviewed and if you can hear the interviewer clearly. If you cannot hear the interviewer clearly, it is very important that you inform the interviewer. The interviewer will be taking notes of your answers throughout the interview process. They are using the interview as an opportunity to determine whether you meet the English language requirement and ascertain whether you are a genuine student. If you cannot hear the questions clearly, you may not be able to answer to the best of your ability.
The interviewer will make an initial assessment of whether they think you are a genuine student. The notes from your interview will be passed to an entry clearance officer who will decide whether to conduct a second interview or decide on your visa application.
You will be asked about your previous studies both in the UK and elsewhere, your course at the University of Westminster and your reasons for wanting to study in the UK. You will be asked about why you chose the course at the University of Westminster instead of other, similar courses available at other institutions in the UK and in your home country.
You will need to show that you know about the course you have chosen, what modules are available and why the course is suitable for you. You will also be expected to know about the University of Westminster and the facilities available. You will be asked about your plans for the future and how your chosen course will help with your future plans. You will be asked how you are financing your studies and may be asked about your likely future earnings in your home country.
The Home Office will want to be satisfied that you are a genuine student, that you know about your course and the University, that you genuinely have the necessary funds to pay for your studies and living costs and that your English language ability is at the correct level.
The second interview
You could be asked to attend a second interview, although, not all students are invited to a second interview. This interview will be more in-depth and is likely to be longer in duration. You may be interviewed via telephone or asked to attend an appointment at a specified time and location. The interviewer will make notes summarising your answers.
At this interview you could be asked to elaborate on your answers from your initial interview. You may be asked to answer questions about your visa application form and the supporting documents you submitted in support of your visa application. There may be a focus on yours and your family’s financial circumstances. You may be asked questions about the financial documents that you submitted in support of your visa application and the source of your maintenance funds. You could be asked questions about your living arrangements in the UK and the potential costs of living in the UK, particularly, in London.
The interview process for students applying from inside the UK
If you are in the UK, the interview should last about 20 or 30 minutes. Your interview may take place in person, via telephone or video call. In some circumstances, you may be asked to attend a second interview.
You will be asked more detailed questions about your present course, previous courses and the reasons for choosing these courses as well as questions about where you live and what your financial support arrangements are, how much your fees are and general questions about your life in the UK and your future plans.
The interview will also test your ability to speak and understand English at the required level. If there are technical problems with the video link and you cannot hear properly, please make sure you point this out.
A report on the interview will then be sent to the Immigration Officer processing your visa application.
How can I prepare for the interview?
Make sure you read the information about your course and the University on our website so that you can answer the questions confidently. Think about why you have chosen this course and why you want to study in the UK. Be clear about how the course will fit in with your previous studies and your future career plans. Also, be clear about how you are going to finance the course, who is providing the money, and show that you are aware of the cost of living in the UK.
If you are asked about whether you plan to work in the UK, be clear that you know that you can only work 20 hours per week in term time (10 hours per week for pre-sessional courses or other courses below degree level) and that you know that you cannot rely on finding part-time work to supplement your finances.
You can find more general information for international students about living in the UK on the Education UK website.
What happens if I do not attend my credibility interview?
If you are invited to take part in a credibility interview and fail to attend without an acceptable reason, your visa application will be refused. If you have been invited to take part in an interview and cannot attend, please contact Student Advice.
I have received a visa refusal based on my credibility interview
If your visa application has been refused for credibility reasons, please contact Student Advice straight away to discuss your next steps.