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Doctorate Extension Scheme

This section answers some of the most common questions on the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme. If you have any further questions, please contact us at

What is the Doctorate Extension scheme?

The Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) is an extension to the Tier 4 Student visa which allows doctorate level students, who are nearing the end of their PhD or other doctorate qualification, to apply for an extra 12 months Tier 4 leave. This is to give PhD graduates up to 12 months in the UK at the end of their studies, in order to find work with a Tier 2 employer, gain work experience, or set up as an entrepreneur. You can find more information about the DES on UKISA’s website.

Who can apply?

The scheme is open to Doctoral students who are sponsored by the University on a Tier 4 student visa, and are nearing the end of their studies. You can find more information on the DES on the UKCISA website

How do I start the application process?

Before you can apply for the DES, you will need a CAS, which is issued by the Compliance Team, subject to eligibility. To start the CAS request process you will need to complete and return a DES Expression of Interest Form.

When do I start the application process?

You should complete a DES Expression of Interest Form after you have completed your viva, so that we are aware that you wish to apply for the DES and can advise you further.

You cannot apply for the DES more than 60 days before your ‘expected end date’, which is defined by the UKVI as, “the date the PhD is expected to be formally confirmed, by the sponsor, as completed to the standard required for the award of the PhD”. This date will not be the same as the end date agreed after your viva; it will usually be approximately 6 weeks after this date, allowing time for approval of corrections, the submission of your final abstract and a hard bound copy of your thesis.

If you have no corrections after your viva, or typographical corrections only, your ‘expected end date’ will normally be 6 weeks after the date of your viva.

  • You must apply for the DES:
  • before your current Tier 4 visa is due to expire
  • before the expected end date on the CAS issued for the DES
  • before submitting a hard bound copy of your thesis
  • before your PhD award has been conferred

What should I do if my current Tier 4 visa is due to expire before the end date agreed after my viva?

If your Tier 4 visa expires during the period of corrections agreed after your viva, you will need to apply to extend your current Tier 4 visa, and will not be eligible to apply for the DES at this stage. Please contact a member of the Compliance Team at the following email address: for further guidance on extending your Tier 4 visa.

If I have a long period of leave left on my Tier 4 Student visa when I am due to complete, can I use that leave to remain in the UK and look for work?

No, the University is obliged to inform the UKVI of early course completions and your Tier 4 leave would then be curtailed by the UKVI (usually allowing you the standard 4 month wrap up period after your early completion date). You should instead apply under the Tier 4 DES before you complete, to give you the correct immigration permission to look for work.

When will my CAS be issued for the DES?

Before we can issue a CAS for the DES, your request will be referred to Compliance Review for approval, and we will need to assess that you hold the required maintenance funds, and that your financial documentation meets UKVI requirements. We are unable to issue a CAS earlier than 60 days before the ‘expected end date’ which will be calculated after the submission of your DES Expression of Interest Form.

Is there an administrative fee for the DES?

There is a £50.00 administration fee that successful applicants for the DES are required to pay, to enable their CAS to be processed. This is payable through the Online Store and you will be sent a link to enable you to make this payment prior to us issuing a CAS.

Do I need ATAS clearance?

If your PhD studies required ATAS clearance and your current certificate is still valid, you are not required to apply for a new ATAS certificate to apply under the DES.

For your current ATAS certificate to be valid, the details of your programme, such as course end date and research area, must remain unchanged. If the agreed ‘expected end date’ that will be on the CAS for your DES visa application, is more than 3 months after the course end date on your previous CAS, you will need to apply for a new ATAS certificate.

It is important that you state on your ATAS clearance application that you will be making a Tier 4 application under the DES and that all of your research has been completed. You will need to apply online and receive clearance before:

  • your current Tier 4 leave expires
  • your doctorate is formally confirmed as awarded
  • the expected end date that has been agreed for the CAS for your DES application

How much maintenance do I need?

You will need to provide evidence that you have held £2030 (2 x £1015 living costs per month, as defined by the UKVI) for a minimum consecutive period of 28 days. These funds can be held in your name, or in the name of your parent(s) or guardian(s). Loans are acceptable only if they are government or educational loans.

If you have been financially sponsored by a government or international scholarship agency, and this sponsorship has ended within 12 months of your DES application being made, you will need to provide written unconditional consent to remain in the UK under the DES from your sponsor. If your financial sponsor does not give consent your application will be refused.

To ensure that your documentation meets the UKVI financial requirements, please see the ‘Money’ section of the Tier 4 Policy Guidance.

Can I apply overseas?

No, you cannot apply from overseas. Visa applications for the DES must be made within the UK.

Can my dependants apply?

Any dependants who are in the UK with you as PBS dependants, will be able to apply to extend their stay as a Tier 4 DES Dependant. They are advised to apply at the same time as you, as part of the same application submission. As the dependant of a Tier 4 DES applicant, each dependant will need to demonstrate maintenance of £1360 (2 x £680 living costs per month, as defined by the UKVI).

Dependants that are not currently residing in the UK can apply for entry clearance as a dependant under the Tier 4 DES from overseas. They can only apply after you have received your Tier 4 DES visa.

Please see the PBS (Dependant) Policy Guidance for more information.

Do I need to register with the Police?

If police registration was required for your studies, you will need to update your police registration certificate with your new visa details and any change of address.

Are there any working restrictions on a Tier 4 DES visa?

Once you have successfully completed your PhD and have received confirmation of your award (this can be before or after the expected end date on your CAS), you will be able to work almost without restriction.

Provided your award has been confirmed, you can start working while your DES application is pending with the UKVI. The only work restrictions are that you cannot work as a doctor or dentist in training, or as a professional sportsperson or coach.

You are not required to gain employment at any particular level, but if you wish to remain in the UK at the end of your DES leave, you will need to find work, and sponsorship, with a Tier 2 employer. Please see UKCISA for further guidance on Tier 2 visas.

You CANNOT work full-time if you have your DES visa, but have not officially completed your PhD.

When do my working restrictions change?

We are required to inform the UKVI the date on which your Doctorate is completed to the required standard. This will be when you submit your final abstract and a hard bound copy of your thesis, and it is from this date that you will be able to work without restriction.

Please note: If we issue a CAS for the DES, and your corrections are not completed to the standard required for a Doctorate award, we are required to report this to the UKVI. This will result in the curtailment of your Tier 4 leave, so that you are left with the same amount of leave that you would otherwise have received following the end of your course.

Am I required to maintain contact with the University?

As part of our sponsorship duties we are required to verify and retain a copy of your BRP when you receive it, and so you should notify us when you receive the outcome of your visa application, and call in with your BRP as soon as possible.

You are free to move anywhere in the UK whilst on the DES, but as your Tier 4 sponsors we are required to contact you at least twice during the 12 month period. This contact does not have to be face to face, and can be via Skype, telephone or email.

You must inform us of any of the following change in circumstances:

  • change of contact details
  • you permanently leave the UK
  • you switch to another immigration category