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The doctorate extension scheme (DES) is a 12-month visa only available to some PhD students at the end of their studies. Although this visa falls under the Tier 4 route and is sponsored by the university, it is a work visa.

You can only apply for a DES visa inside the UK.

In order to qualify for this visa you must:

  • have a valid a Tier 4 (General) visa

  • be studying a PhD or other doctorate-level qualification

  • apply before completing your course (expected submission date of the final version of your thesis)

  • apply in the 60 days prior to your hardbound thesis submission

  • meet the Tier 4 financial requirements – you have held £2530 in cash funds for a full 28 days before you can apply. You need to demonstrate this requirement using one of the acceptable Tier 4 financial documents.

DES essentials

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How do I apply?

Your application for the doctorate extension scheme will be exactly the same as making a Tier 4 application and following the process set out in Applying from within the UK.

You will need to request a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) around six weeks before your viva date. We recommend that you submit your request at this point because once you have attended your viva, and been notified that you have completed work to the standard of a UK PHD, you must make your application for DES within 60 days or less, depending on when your Tier 4 visa expires.

You will not be required to obtain a new ATAS certificate in order to apply for leave under the doctorate extension scheme.

Working under the doctorate extension scheme

There are fewer restrictions on the DES visa compared to the standard Tier 4 student visa.

You can:
  • be self employed

  • fill a permanent position

  • work as a professional entertainer

  • work as many hours as you wish.

You cannot:
  • work as a doctor or dentist in training or a professional sportsperson or coach.

Once you have received formal confirmation of your award, you may start work even if your application is still pending with UKVI.

You can move anywhere in the UK on this visa, but you must maintain contact with the university (your sponsor). If you want to stay in the UK at the end of the 12 months, you will need to apply to stay under a different route, for example, employment under Tier 2.

If you are an international PhD student, there is also an immigration toolkit available to read on the website. 



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