How to apply for a student visa

If you want to study at Cardiff University International Study Centre, you will need a Tier 4 (General) student visa. This is nothing to worry about, and we will guide you through the process.

Two students in a cafe in Cardiff

Will I be eligible for a student visa?

There are three main requirements for those who want to study in the UK. You must have been offered a place on a course, you must have enough money to meet living costs and pay for your course and you must be able to speak, read, write and understand English to a good level. If you meet these requirements, you are likely to be eligible for a student visa for studying abroad.

The visa process

In order to apply for your visa, you must:

  • The first step is to apply for your chosen programme at the International Study Centre.
  • Receive an offer of a place on your chosen programme.
  • Send your supporting documents to be checked by Admissions team or your Student Enrolment Adviser.
  • Obtain a CAS (Certificate of Acceptance of Study).
  • Apply for your visa, attaching any requested financial statements.
  • Attend a credibility interview, if required.
  • UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will contact you to let you know whether or not your application has been successful.

When should I apply for a visa?

You should apply for a visa as early as possible to make sure there is enough time for your visa application to be processed. The earliest you can apply is three months before your course begins. As soon as you apply to study at the International Study Centre, you can begin getting your documents together.

How long can I stay in the UK with 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.

Working during your pathway programme

If you are a Tier 4 student, you can work during your pathway programme at the International Study Centre, within guidelines.

About the Tier 4 visa

The Tier 4 visa allows students to come to the UK to study. It also means that students can work alongside their studies, gaining valuable career skills for the future. This should usually be a part-time role for an established business or organisation.

You may work a maximum of 10 hours per week during term-time for any course below degree level and 20 hours for any course at degree level. You may work full time (up to 40 hours per week) during term breaks. 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.

Conditions of a Tier 4 visa

If you are working on a Tier 4 visa, you may not:

  • be employed as a doctor in training, a professional sportsperson, or 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.

Find more information on working during your studies at UKCISA.

Visa credibility interviews

Applicants from certain countries may be required to attend a credibility interview (also known as a visa interview). The purpose of this is for an Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) to check that you are applying for the right reasons. You need to show you are a serious student, and that you have good knowledge of your chosen university and course.  The process is designed to check people are not planning to use a student visa to work or holiday in the UK.

  • Where will I have my credibility interview?

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

  • How should I prepare for my interview?

    Think about why you chose to study at Cardiff University, why you picked your course, and your future career goals. You should also do some basic research on Cardiff and Wales, so you can demonstrate an interest.

  • What if my visa is refused?

    If you receive a visa refusal, you have 28 days to submit an Administrative Review to the UKVI and contest the decision made. You will need to respond in writing to each of the points raised in the refusal, and we can help you with this process if we believe the refusal is an error. You must submit your Administrative Review from outside the UK.

  • What questions will I be asked?

    Here are some questions you may be asked during your interview:

    Why did you choose Cardiff University International Study Centre?

    You should be able to explain why you chose to study in the UK, and why Cardiff appealed to you.

    Which course will you be studying, and why?

    Tell the interviewer what interests you about your course and where you hope the qualification will get you in the future. 

    Will you work while you're in the UK?

    You must make it clear that your main purpose for being in the UK is to study and that any employment is to gain practical work experience to help you in the future. You will need to reassure the interviewer that you already have the funds to cover your tuition fees and living costs while living in the UK.

    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.


    Think carefully before answering and try to be as honest and detailed as possible. Talk naturally and relax; you do not want to look like you are repeating pre-prepared answers.