The Doctorate Extension Scheme
Find out how to extend your Tier 4 immigration permission as a doctoral student so that you can start work in the UK.
To be eligible for the Doctorate Extension Scheme you must:
- be a doctoral candidate - this means you must be studying for a PhD qualification or an acceptable doctorate qualification
- be in the UK
- have a current (unexpired) Tier 4 or pre-Tier 4 student visa
- have completed your viva but not yet had results confirmed at Board of Studies (referred to as ‘expected end date’ by UK Visa & Immigration)
- be within 60 days of your expected end date
- meet general Tier 4 requirements (you will only need to show two months' living costs)
You cannot apply if:
- you are studying for a research master's degree
- you currently hold a short-term study visa
You must apply before confirmation of your doctorate is awarded. This is likely to be several weeks before your graduation ceremony.
The UK government provides more information on the Doctorate Extension Scheme in its Tier 4 Guidance Document.
When to apply
You can apply under the Doctorate Extension Scheme once you have been assigned a CAS number from the University and have the other supporting documentation ready.
You'll need to have two months' living costs (currently £2,030 in total) in your bank account to meet the Tier 4 maintenance requirements. You must be able to show that you've had this amount in your account for 28 days before you apply. Use our bank statement flowchart to check your statements.
You must have held your funds for 28 consecutive days or longer before the date of your application. You must therefore plan ahead and make sure that the level of your funds does not go below the minimum required level at any time during this 28-day period.
You must apply before the expected end date on the CAS and before your current immigration permission expires. If you find out that you're likely to receive confirmation of your award after the expected end date on the CAS, you can still apply under the scheme as long as you do this before the expected end date and before your current Tier 4 leave expires. However, you won't be able to:
- work without restriction until your award is confirmed
- extend your immigration permission under this scheme, so you won't be able to spend the full 12-month period working without restriction
If your current immigration permission expires before your expected study end date, you must contact the Student Immigration Service as a matter of urgency. You may need to make another Tier 4 student application before you're able to apply under the Doctorate Extension Scheme.
How to apply
Contact Student Immigration Services
You should contact the Student Immigration Service as soon as possible after submitting your thesis, or three months before your visa expires - whichever is sooner.
We will need to know your visa expiry date and expected viva date (oral examination). We will also discuss your options and the application process with you.
Request a CAS number
After your viva, you must request a Confirmation of Acceptance to Study (CAS) number through SAMIS online. SAMIS is the University's central database of student records.
We will need to know the date of your Board of Studies before we can produce your CAS. We will also require your Tier 4 supporting documents.
Make a Check and Send appointment
You should make a Check and Send appointment to complete your application with a Student Immigration Adviser. You will be given a biometric enrolment letter at the appointment, which you will then need to take to a post office that offers a biometric enrolment service. You will also need to sign a legal agreement which explains your responsibilities while on your visa.
After your visa extension is approved
If your visa extension has been accepted, you will be granted Tier 4 immigration permission for 12 months from the expected end date on your CAS.
We will log your new details on SAMIS and contact you once everything has been received. You can collect your documents and visa (on a Biometric Residence Permit card) from the Student Immigration Service.
The wording on your visa will make it clear that you have permission to stay under the Doctorate Extension Scheme.
Once your award has been confirmed and you have received your Doctorate Extension Scheme visa, you can start work under the Doctorate Extension Scheme.
Once your visa is extended you can start most types of work. The only restrictions are that you can't work as a doctor or dentist in training, or as a professional sportsperson or sports coach.
We are required to monitor contact with you while on the scheme and are subject to our normal obligations as a Tier 4 visa sponsor. We will contact you twice during the 12-month period by email (as per the legal agreement). You need to respond to each of these emails within 10 days.
If you fail to comply with the terms of your visa as outlined in the legal agreement, we must report you to UK Visa & Immigration and your visa will be cancelled.
Ending the extension scheme
You can only apply once under the Doctorate Extension Scheme and it can't be extended. If you want to stay in the UK for longer than this, you need to apply under a different route. Switching into Tier 1 and Tier 2 is allowed in the UK. We recommend coming to a drop-in session to discuss these options with a Student Immigration Adviser in the first instance.
Please note: the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme does not necessarily lead towards settlement in the UK but will count towards the long residency settlement route.
The University's responsibilities
As your Tier 4 sponsor we are required to let UK Visa & Immigration know:
- when you complete your course
- if you fail your course or don't complete it
- if you're awarded a qualification that is lower than a doctorate.
If you fail or don't complete your course, or if you're awarded a lower qualification, your application will be refused if you're still awaiting a decision.
If you need advice, get in touch with the Student Immigration Service.