Doctorate Extension Scheme

The Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) is designed to provide a bridge for PhD students to Tier 2 and Tier 1 visas.

The Doctorate Extension Scheme gives students who have almost finished their UK PhD or other doctorate qualification an additional 12 months stay in the UK in which they can look for and start work.

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For advice and support for your doctorate extension scheme application, call our expert immigration solicitors today, or request a call-back for a time best suited to you.

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  • General requirements

    You must be a doctoral candidate. This means you must be studying for a PhD qualification or for one of the doctorate qualifications listed on the policy guidance.

    You can apply only if you are already in the UK and you must have a current Tier 4 study visa to be eligible.

    During the year you will need to keep in contact with the University as your sponsor for the scheme. Furthermore, applicants:

    • Must have a current Tier 4 visa to study a PhD or other doctorate level degree at a HEI in the UK
    • Must not have completed their course before 6 April 2013
    • Must not have previously been granted leave under the doctoral extension scheme
    • Must be following a course leading to the award of a PhD
    • Must be sponsored by a sponsor that is a recognised body or a body in receipt of public funding as a higher education institution from the Department of Employment and Learning in England, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales or the Scottish Funding Council and that sponsor will be the sponsor awarding the PhD, and
    • Must apply a maximum of 60 days before the expected end date of a course leading to the award of a PhD

    Candidates who expect to complete their PhD earlier than originally stated in their offer letter must apply a maximum of 60 days before their revised expected end date. The end date is the date that the PhD is awarded.

  • General conditions

    Doctorate extension scheme visas are given to students who have almost finished their PhD and need an additional 12 months stay in the UK so they can look for work.

    The following conditions apply to the visa holder during these 12 months:

    • Any leave issued under this scheme will expire 12 months after course completion
    • 'Doctorate Extension Scheme Responsibilities' ensures that you make contact with the international student team three times during the year to advise on your current employment status
    • Until a student receives unconditional approval for their degree from the Board of Graduate Studies, standard Tier 4 conditions apply
    • The less restrictive terms of the Tier 4 doctorate extension visa apply from the date on which the PhD is completed (if a valid visa application has been made before this date), even if the applicant is still awaiting the outcome of their visa application
    • Under the doctorate extension scheme, individuals cannot work as a doctor or dentist in training or a sportsperson
  • Documents to provide

    Documents you must provide to support your application are:

    • Evidence of maintenance funds

    This will be two months of maintenance which is currently £2,030.00. This needs to have been held in your account for a consecutive 28 day period on the date of application and the evidence you provide must be dated within 31 days of the date of your application.

    • Two passport sized colour photos which meet the Home Office Photo Guidance requirements
    • Your current passport and any previous passport which contains your current visa
    • Your BRP (if you currently hold one)
    • Your Police Registration Certificate (if applicable)
    • ATAS Certificate (if applicable)

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies

To apply under this scheme you will need to be sponsored by a university who has confirmed your enrolment by providing you with a reference number, also known as a ‘Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies’ or CAS.  To apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme your university needs to provide you with a new CAS that you will need to include in your application.

The DES visa will be granted for a period of 12 months from your expected completion date stated on the new CAS.

ATAS Clearance

If the study for your PhD required ATAS clearance and your course end date is postponed by more than three 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.

If your Current Visa Expires before the Date of Award

If your current visa will likely expire before the date of reward you will need to apply for a Tier 4 general visa extension. The Doctorate Extension Scheme should not be applied for to bridge this gap.

A visa extension application can take as much time as a general application. This means it could take three or four months for your visa to be approved.

If this is time you don’t have you should consider fast track or same day visa services. You can not continue to live and study in the UK without a valid visa, and doing so will minimise your chances of being allowed to continue living in the UK even if you are further fully eligible for the Doctorate Extension Scheme.

UK Study Visas

Tier 4 Student Visa

For the temporary right to work and study in the UK you likely need to apply for the Tier 4 General visa.

To be allowed to apply for the Tier 4 General visa you must be aged 18 or over and be able to prove you have enough funds to support yourself throughout your stay in the UK.

There are strict restrictions for a Tier 4 General visa holder. These include restrictions on the type of institute you may study at, the type of employment you may take on next to your studies and the amount of hours you can work.

Tier 4 Child Visa

If you are under the age of 18 can apply as a child student under the Tier 4 category.

The Tier 4 – child visa is for individuals under the age of 18 who are intending to study at a UK school on a full time course.

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