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
As of 10 January 2019, doctoral students on a part-time Tier 4 are also eligible to make an application for the doctorate extension scheme from within the UK if they can meet the requirements.
The UK government provides more information on the Doctorate Extension Scheme in its Tier 4 Guidance Document.
When to apply
You can only apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme after you have completed your viva, but must apply before your final Board of Studies date (and no more than 60 days before this date). This is likely to be several weeks before your graduation ceremony. You must also apply before your current immigration permissions expires.
If your current immigration permission expires before you are within the time frame to apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme, 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.
If you find out that your Board of Studies date has been delayed, and you have already submitted your Doctorate Extension Scheme visa application, this is not a problem. 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
How to apply
Contact the Student Immigration Service
You should contact the Student Immigration Service as soon as possible after completing your viva, or three months before your visa expires - whichever is sooner.
We will need to know your visa expiry date and the length of your corrections. We will also discuss your options and the application process with you.
Request a CAS number
After your viva, please 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.
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.
Prepare your documents
You will need to prepare the following documents for the Doctorate Extension Scheme visa application:
- Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
- financial evidence
- your police registration certificate (if you are required to register)
- no objection letter from your financial sponsor (if you have been financially sponsored in the last 12 months)
Financial evidence requirements
You'll need to have two months' living costs (currently £2,030 in total) in your bank account to meet the Doctorate Extension Scheme 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.
No objection letter from your financial sponsor
If you have received official financial sponsorship in the last 12 months, you will also need to provide a letter from your financial sponsor stating that they have no objection to you remaining in the UK beyond the end of your studies. The letter must also contain the following details:
- your name
- the name and contact details of your official financial sponsor
- the date of the letter
Make a Tier 4 extension appointment
After you have received your CAS summary, you should make a Tier 4 extension appointment to complete your application. Please make sure your fill in the online application form and prepare your documents before your appointment.
At your appointment a Student Immigration Adviser will check your application form and supporting documents before you submit it to UKVI. You will also need to sign a University legal agreement which explains your responsibilities while on your visa. After you have submitted the Doctorate Extension Scheme application online during your appointment, we will book an appointment at one of the UKVI Service Points for you to show your original documents and enrol your biometrics.
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 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.