Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme

The Doctorate Extension Scheme is a great opportunity for PhD or other doctorate students to extend their immigration permission for 12 months, so that they can look for and start work in the UK.

The Doctorate Extension Scheme falls under Tier 4 of the Points Based Immigration System. The University is required to sponsor students under this scheme and continue to monitor contact with students. This scheme was introduced on 6 April 2013.

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) information about this scheme is available in the Tier 4 policy guidance.

Finding out if you're eligible

To be able to apply you must:

  • be a doctoral candidate - this means you must be studying for a PhD qualification or an acceptable doctorate qualification (research Master's degrees are not acceptable)
  • be in the UK (you can only apply for this scheme in the UK)
  • have a current (unexpired) Tier 4 or pre-Tier 4 student visa - you will NOT be able to apply if you currently hold a Short-term study visa
  • have completed your viva but not yet had results confirmed at Board of Studies (referred to as ‘expected end date’ by UKVI)
  • be within 60 days of your expected end date
  • meet general Tier 4 requirements (you will only need to show 2 months living costs).

You must apply before it has been confirmed that your doctorate has been awarded (your expected end date/date the Board of Studies meets). This is likely to be several weeks before your graduation ceremony. The University can't provide you with supporting documentation (a CAS) after it has been confirmed that your doctorate has been awarded.

Your expected end date

The University of Bath won't be able to set this date until you have had your viva. At this point, it should become clear how much further work and time is required before your doctorate will be awarded. The expected end date will be the date of the Board of Studies (not your graduation ceremony). We will include this date on your CAS. See below for information about what to do if your current immigration permission will expire before the expected end date.

When to apply

  • You can apply under the Doctorate Extension Scheme after your Tier 4 sponsor (the sponsor awarding you the doctorate qualification) has assigned a CAS for this scheme and you have the other supporting documentation ready.
  • You must apply before the expected end date on the CAS.
  • You must also make a valid application before your current immigration permission expires.
  • Remember that you must have held your funds for 28 days or longer before the date of your application, so you need to 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.

The application process

  1. Contact the Student Immigration Service in Student Services, 4 West, as soon as possible after you've submitted your thesis or 3 months before your visa expiry date - whichever happens sooner. We will need to know your visa expiry date and expected viva date. We will also discuss your options and the application process with you.
  2. After your viva, request a CAS via the Student Services Helpdesk accessed through SAMIS online. We will need to know the date of your Board of Studies before we can produce your CAS.
  3. Prepare Tier 4 general supporting documents.
  4. Make a Check and Send appointment to complete your application with an adviser.
  5. Sign legal agreement - during your Check and Send appointment we will ask you to sign a legal agreement which tells you what we expect from you. If we're satisfied that you understand the requirements of the scheme and your responsibilities, we'll provide you with your CAS, check your documents and form, and send them to UKVI on your behalf (our Check and Send Service).
  6. Once your visa application form has been submitted, we will print out your document checklist and your biometric enrolment letter – these are both generated online once the visa application is submitted. You will need to take the biometric enrolment letter to a post office offering biometric enrolment (nearest ones are in Bristol, Keynsham and Trowbridge) within 15 working days to enrol your biometrics.
  7. Collect your documents and visa (on a Biometric Residence Permit card) from the Student Immigration Service - we will log details of your new visa on SAMIS and contact you once everything has been received. The wording on your visa should make it clear that you have permission to stay under the Doctorate Extension Scheme.
  8. The University is required to monitor contact with you on the scheme. We will contact you twice during the 12-month period by email (as per the legal agreement) and expect you to respond within 10 days each time.
  9. If you fail to comply with the terms of your visa as outlined in the legal agreement we must report you to UKVI and your visa will be cancelled.

If your immigration permission expires before the expected end date

If your current immigration permission expires before your expected end date, you must contact the Student Immigration Service as a matter of urgency. You may need to make a further Tier 4 student application before you're able to apply under the Doctorate Extension Scheme.

If your actual completion date is after the expected end date

If, after your CAS has been assigned, 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. As your Tier 4 sponsor, we are required to report your actual completion date to UKVI. You won't be able to apply to extend your immigration permission under this scheme, so you won't be able to spend the full 12-month period working without restriction.

If you don't get your doctorate

Your Tier 4 sponsor is required to let UKVI know when you complete your course. The sponsor is also obliged to notify UKVI if you fail your course, don't complete it or 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.

Necessary funds

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.

Starting the extension scheme

If your application is successful, you will be granted Tier 4 immigration permission for 12 months from the expected end date on your CAS.

Types of work and when you can start

Under this scheme you can take 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.

Once you've made an application and your award has been confirmed (this can be before or after your expected end date on the CAS) you can start work under the Doctorate Extension Scheme even though a decision is pending.

You are not required to take employment at any particular level. However, if you wish to stay longer in the UK for work, you need to find a Tier 2 employer so that you can apply to extend your stay under that scheme.

Find out about working after your studies.

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 is allowed in the UK into Tier 1 and Tier 2.

Please note: the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme does not count towards settlement in the UK.

Bringing your family

You may be able to bring your family to live with you. Please refer to the Bringing your family page to find out more about the process. 

Further policy guidance on dependants can be found on the UKVI website