Is Credibility Interview Compulsory for UK Student Visa?
In terms of Paragraph ST 5.1 of the Immigration Rules Appendix Student, all the applicants need to meet the Genuine Student Rule (GSR) requirement. Therefore, if the Immigration Officer has doubts about the credibility of the applicant, then may invite the applicant for an interview. However, once an applicant is invited for the UK student visa interview then it is mandatory to attend the interview.
Genuine Student requirement
ST 5.1. The applicant must be a genuine student.
UK Credibility Interview Questions and Answers
The UK student visa interview questions and answers usually relates to Immigration History, Education History and Plans, Personal and Financial Circumstances of the applicants. However, at times the UK student visa interview questions and answers may also relates to Qualification, Course Provider, Education Agent, Dependants, Pull Factors etc. Nevertheless, doubts about an applicant’s English Language Ability and motivation to study in the UK may necessitate initiation of the student visa interview process.
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For an applicant to qualify as a student, they need to satisfy on the balance of probability that they are a genuine student. To assess an applicant’s credibility, the Immigration Officer considers the information provided in the application. Moreover, if applicable, then may invite the applicant for a credibility interview. However, for refusing a student visa application on credibility grounds, the Immigration Officer needs to clearly set out their allegations, reasoning and argument that form the basis for their decision.
The English language ability of a student can be used as a relevant factor in assessing credibility. However, the Immigration Officer may consider other factors such as:
- The immigration history of the applicant and any dependant, in the UK and other countries
- The applicant’s education history, study, and post-study plans
- The personal and financial circumstances of the applicant and any dependant
- The qualification, course provider and agents
- English language ability
- The employment, education, or health care benefits for any accompanying dependants
- Pull factors that have influenced students’ choice of the UK as a study destination
- Due to Covid-19 several students commenced a course remotely from overseas during 2020/21. Therefore, for such applicants, the Immigration Officer considers the engagement with the course and progress
Doubtful Immigration History
As part of the Genuine Student Rule, Immigration Officer may consider the immigration history of the applicant and any dependant, in the UK and other countries. Accordingly, if necessary, during the UK student visa creditability interview, the Immigration Officer may ask the applicant questions relating to:
- previous visa applications for the UK and other countries, including reasons for any visa refusals
- the amount of time the applicant has spent in the UK or other countries on previous visas, and for what purpose
- whether the applicant has complied with the terms of previous visas for the UK and other countries
Education History and Plans
As part of the Genuine Student Rule, Immigration Officer may consider the applicant’s education history, study, and post-study plans. Accordingly, if necessary, during the UK student visa creditability interview, the Immigration Officer may ask the applicant questions relating to:
- the amount of time that has elapsed since the applicant last studied, and whether the applicant has sound reasons for returning to, or commencing, formal study of this subject, particularly after any significant gap
- whether the applicant demonstrates sufficient commitment to the course
- whether the course represents academic progression
- the credibility of the applicant’s rationale for, knowledge of, and research into the proposed course of study and the sponsoring institution
- the credibility of the applicant’s rationale for, knowledge of, and research into living arrangements in the UK
- how the circumstances of any dependant may affect the ability or motivation of the applicant to study
- the relevance of the course to post-study plans in the UK or overseas
- whether the applicant intends to comply with the terms of their permission, including the requirement to leave the UK when their permission ends (or, where lawful and appropriate, to apply to extend their permission under the student route or to switch to another immigration route)
Please note, the Immigration Officers do not usually refuse an applicant based on an applicant’s knowledge of the location where they will be studying. For instance, if the applicant has a lack of knowledge of bus routes, or of the geography of the town or city.
Personal and Financial Circumstances
As part of the Genuine Student Rule (GSR), Immigration Officer may consider the personal and financial circumstances of the applicant and any dependant. Accordingly, if necessary, during the UK student visa creditability interview, the Immigration Officer may ask the applicant questions relating to:
- the economic circumstances of the applicant and any dependant
- whether the applicant has a credible source of funds to meet course fees, and living costs – both for themselves and any dependants – for the duration of the course in the UK, in cases where they would have a limited, or no, ability to work in the UK
- how the applicant was able to acquire the necessary funds for course fees, as well as accommodation and living expenses in the UK for themselves and any dependant
- the distance between the applicant’s place of study and their proposed accommodation in the UK
- the average monthly expenditure for the applicant and any dependant in the UK
- the applicant’s personal circumstances, where these might make it difficult to complete a course of study
Please note, the Immigration Officer (Home Office) take account of the fact that the applicant will need to make a considerable investment to gain a qualification from the UK.
The Qualification, Course Provider and Agents
As part of the Genuine Student Rule (GSR), Immigration Officer may consider factors relating to the qualification, course provider and agents such as:
- if the applicant is applying to study at an institution that is under investigation or has been identified by the Home Office as an institution of concern in relation to immigration compliance
- where the application is being managed by an agent about whom the Home Office has concerns
Therefore, if the Immigration Officer has doubts about the qualification, course provider (sponsor), and education agent, then may invite the applicant for an interview to assess their credibility as a genuine student.
English Language Ability
If the Immigration Officer has concerns over the applicant’s English language ability potentially falling short of the required level, then they consider this when assessing the genuine student requirement. Therefore, if the Immigration Officer has doubts about the applicant’s English language ability, then may invite the student for UK visa credibility interview for assessment.
Doubtful Role of Dependants
The Immigration Officer (Home Office) considers if the applicant is not a genuine student where a main reason for the application is the employment, education, or health care benefits for any accompanying dependants. Therefore, if the Immigration Officer has doubts, then may invite the student for UK visa credibility interview.
Pull factors are known to influence students’ choice of the UK as a study destination. They can give an indication of an applicant’s motivation for coming to the UK, and whether the applicant is a genuine student. For instance, if the applicant chose the UK because of the reputation of its academic and education institutions compared to those of other countries. Therefore, if the Immigration Officer has doubts that the applicant has chosen UK for the quality of education, then may invite the applicant for student visa interview for assessment.
Commencing a Course Remotely
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the Home Office has permitted education institutions to provide tuition remotely via distance learning. Accordingly, distance learning has been permitted throughout the 2020/21 academic year. Therefore, for UK student visa applications from applicants, who have commenced a course remotely from overseas, the Immigration Officer assesses the course engagement and progress. Therefore, if the Immigration Officer has doubts about an applicant’s course engagement and progress, then may invite the applicant for UK student visa interview for assessment.
UK Student Visa Credibility Interview Procedure
For in-country applications, the Immigration Officer completes an interview referral, which is duly authorised by their manager. Accordingly, the Immigration Officer forwards this to the interview administration team who schedules an interview date and time. Once an interview slot is allocated, then the interview team sends a letter to invite the applicant to attend the UK student visa interview.
If the interviewer concludes that the applicant appears credible at interview, then the Immigration Officer will note the details and complete the consideration of UK student visa application. However, if at the consideration stage, the Immigration Officer has doubts about the credibility of applicant (even after the interview), then they escalate the application to a senior official for consideration of the refusal.
For in-country applications, if the interviewer concludes that the applicant is not credible, then the Immigration Officer will complete the consideration by taking the interview information into account. Accordingly, the Immigration Officer may refuse the application if they are not satisfied on the balance of probability that the applicant is a genuine student.
For out-of-country applications, Entry Clearance Officers (ECOs) refer to an Entry Clearance Manager (ECM) to authorise the UK student visa credibility interview. In authorising a decision to consider the genuine student rule, the ECM takes account of risk factors.
If at the consideration stage, the ECO is satisfied that the applicant appears credible at interview and meets other requirements of the UK student visa then grant the application. However, if after the UK student visa interview, the ECO is not satisfied that the applicant is genuine, then refuses the application.
UK student visa Interview may be arranged and conducted in a variety of ways, which will be affected by the location and availability of the applicant. However, the UK student visa interview may include:
- a telephone interview where the Immigration Officer contacts the applicant by phone, and ask them if they can answer questions about their UK student visa application (if the applicant confirms that they are happy to continue, then the interview can be conducted)
- contacting the applicant by email or telephone to arrange an interview at a designated time and location
Failure to Attend
If an applicant fails to attend the UK student visa interview without a reasonable explanation as to why they are unable to do so, the Immigration Officer considers whether to refuse the application on general grounds for refusal relating to the failure to attend the interview under Paragraph 9.9.1 of Immigration Rules Part 9. However, the Immigration Officer may rearrange UK student visa interview, if an applicant gives adequate reasons as to why they cannot attend the interview, and the interview team are satisfied with these reasons. Nevertheless, if the interviewer confirms that the applicant failed to attend the UK student visa interview with no reason given, or an unacceptable reason given, then the Immigration Officer refuses the application.
Unsuccessful Credibility Interview
If the Immigration Officer refuses the UK student visa application after interview, then the refusal letter covers any information obtained at interview. Accordingly, the UK student visa rejection letter explains the reasons for the refusal decision. Since refusals based on interview are subjective, therefore, in refusal letter the Immigration Officer tries to accurately reflect the transcript (or transcripts) of the interview (or interviews). As this documentation will be important in the case of any administrative review, the Immigration Officer usually explains and sets out the reasons for UK student visa refusal in a clear and full manner.
If at any time the applicant admitted – at interview or otherwise – that they provided fraudulent information as part of the application process, then the Immigration Officer refuses the application under paragraph 9.7.1 or 9.7.2 of part 9 of the immigration rules. Please note, this may lead to a 10-Year Deception Ban or Re-Entry Ban.
How to Answer UK Student Visa Interview Questions?
An interviewee should answer the UK student visa interview questions politely and honestly – based on their ability and circumstances.
How Long Does UK Student Visa Interview Take?
For most of the applicants, the UK student visa interview does not take more than 15-20 minutes. However, if the circumstances are complex, especially in case of leave to remain (extension or switching) applications, the UK student visa interview may take 45-60 minutes to conclude.
How to Prepare for UK Student Visa Interview?
For preparing for UK student visa interview, an applicant should take notes relating to their Immigration History, Education History and Plans, Personal and Financial Circumstances. They should review the details in the Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies, the reason for choosing the education provider and the course of study. Moreover, the student should have a clear idea: why they have chosen UK (instead of Canada, USA, Australia etc.) for studies.