Doctorate Extension Scheme

Last modified: 07/02/2018

The Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) is an extension of the Tier 4 student visa but it allows full-time Tier 4 students who complete a PhD at a UK institution time to find work, set up as an entrepreneur, or to gain practical work experience in their field. It is  designed to provide an opportunity for PhD students to find and undertake employment (or self employment) in the UK and allows time for PhD student to find graduate full time employment under Tier 2

To apply under this scheme you will need to be sponsored by the University with a new Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) and to make a new Tier 4 visa application before you are awarded your PhD. You can only apply from within the UK.

Dependants are allowed, in accordance with current rules and they can apply to join you in UK.

The DES visa will be granted for a period of 12 months from your expected completion date stated on the new CAS. (Completion means date you will be awarded your degree)

If the study for your PhD required ATAS clearance and your course end date is postponed by more than 3 calendar months, you must apply for a new ATAS certificate but you do not need to submit it with your other visa application supporting documents.

During the year you will need to keep in contact with the University as your sponsor for the scheme. This will be via email.

Who can apply for this scheme?

To be eligible for this visa you must:

  • Hold a valid Tier 4 (General) visa at the time of application;
  • Be inside the UK and able to make your visa application from within the UK;
  • Be a current student within 60 days of completion
  • Complete University declaration
  • Receive a CAS, and make the visa application within the 60 day period prior to receiving final approval for your degree;
  • Meet all other requirements of the Tier 4 application, including financial. These include
    1. You will need to be able to show you have available £2030 for 28 days and £1360 per dependant. 

    2. If you have been sponsored for some or all of your fees/living costs by your government or the University within the last 12 months you will need a letter on headed paper giving the sponsor's unconditional consent to you remaining in the UK.

    3. If you were covered by ATAS as a student you will not normally need to apply for a fresh ATAS for your DES application unless you have extended your study by more than 3 months.

    4. You and any dependants will each need to pay the Immigration Health surcharge, which should be £150 for the 12 month visa.

    5. For full details check Tier 4 guidance

Will I be able to apply for this route if I have recently been awarded my PhD?

No, this route is only open to PhD students who have not yet been awarded their PhDs or doctorate level qualification. If you have already been awarded your PhD you will need to fit within one of the other worker routes such as Tier 2 or Tier 5.

Will I be able to extend this visa after the 12 months?

No, you will need to either fit into one of the other worker categories such as Tier 2 or return home.

How can I apply for this scheme?

New University Process from 1st August 2017

1. You will need to have a 1-1 with the International Student Adviser at the Student Advice centre to establish if this is the best option for you before you have your viva. This is because it is possible that you pass your PhD with no corrections and could be awarded your degree within days. Therefore it is important to plan well ahead for this scheme.  Tier 4 Des may also not be the best option for you ( or not possible ) depending on your personal situation and our advisers can provide independant immigration advice to you to help you prepare for the application.

2. If you have already had your Viva then you should seek advice as soon as possible due to the tight deadlines of this scheme. Remember, you cannot apply after your degree has been awarded. If you pass your Viva without corrections we advise you not upload your final E thesis until you have sought advice and have made the Tier 4 DES online application, this will avoid you being awarded the degree before you have a chance to make the application.

3. If it is agreed that the DES is the best option for you, you will need to request a DES CAS application form from International Student Support . Ideally this would be after your VIVA and around one month before you intend to submit the final library copy of your thesis. You will then need to take this to your supervisor who will confirm an expected (and realistic) end date for you to have completed any corrections and be in a position to upload your final E-thesis. Information about applying for a DES CAS from the University can be found here

4. Following this you will have an appointment with the International Student Support adviser  who will check you meet the other requirements for the DES.  Please bring your passport, BRP card and current bank statements to this appointment. The University will then check and process your CAS request.

5. International Student Support will then offer you an appointment to check your application and documents before submitting the application.

Details of how to apply online can be found here

When can I start to work full time?

You may only start to work full time after you have submitted your Tier 4 DES application AND have been awarded your PhD.