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Doctorate Extension Scheme

The Doctorate Extension Scheme has been merged into the new Graduate route under which PhD graduates can apply for 3 years' permission in the UK to work.

If you are a PhD (or equivalent) student and are interested in gaining experience in the UK at the end of your degree, then extending your visa under the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) may be a good option for you.

This 12 month visa extension allows students and their dependants to extend their Tier 4/Student visas to allow them to look for and start employment or set up as a business in the UK. There are fewer work restrictions and you do not need to have a job offer to apply for this visa. You will need a new CAS number issued by our office to submit with your visa application. Your DES visa will expire 12 months after your award date. 

  • You must be studying a programme at PhD level (including EdD, EngD, Doctor of Engineering, DClin, Doctor of Educational Psychology); 

  • You can apply no more than 60 days before your award date. You cannot apply after you have completed your programme; 

  • You must meet the financial requirements;  

  • You must have a Tier 4 (General) / Student visa and  

  • You must apply from within the UK through our office.

  • You can work without restrictions after you have successfully completed your degree and submitted your DES visa extension application.
  • You still cannot work as a Doctor or Dentist in training, or as a sportsperson (including as a coach). 
Keeping in contact
  • You must respond to emails sent to you by the University within 2 weeks.  There will be a minimum of 2 emails during the year. 
  • You must notify the University if your contact details change or if you permanently leave the UK. 
The University will notify UKVI if you
  • fail your programme or are awarded a lower qualification; 
  • fail to respond to a University email; 
  • permanently leave the UK; 
  • are no longer participating in the scheme. 

During your appointment you will need to confirm that you understand and agree to the above conditions.

You can submit an application no more than 60 days before your award date which will be very shortly after you submit your final corrected thesis, you cannot apply for DES after your PhD has been awarded. We strongly advise that you book an appointment with us before you have your viva so that we can fully prepare you for an application.

We would strongly recommend that you use our service as we will check and submit your application and supporting documents.

As your application must be made from within the UK, you should use this guide. 


If you are having trouble viewing this guide, you can download it here: In-country application form guide

For applications under the Student route, people who have been living in the UK with permission for 12 months or more are exempt from meeting the financial requirements and therefore do not need to show funds in their bank account.  These rules also apply to their dependants.

In some situations, you or your dependants may need to show finances.  If any of the below applies to you or your dependants you should seek advice from International Student Support for details: 

  • If you have been living in the UK with permission for less than 12 months at the time of applying for DES, or
  • You have been outside the UK for a significant amount of time during the last 12 months or 
  • You have had a break in your immigration permission.

Passport and visas

You must provide clear scans or photos of:

Your current valid passport.
Your current Tier 4/Student visa which is usually on a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card.

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number

Your CAS statement lists your CAS number and other important information which you will need to include on your application form. Our office will agree the details with you and issue your CAS number prior to your final appointment with us. This will list your award date as your course end date which will be used to calculate the beginning of your 12 month DES visa.

Police registration certificate

If you are required to register with the police, you must submit an up-to-date police registration certificate which includes your current visa details and your current address.

Evidence of money

Unless you are exempt as described above or qualify for differentiation arrangements, you will need either a bank statement or a bank letter to show that you have held the required funds for the required amount of time as described in the Money section.


If an ATAS certificate was required for your programme of study, you will need to submit it with your Doctorate Extension Scheme application. ATAS is only required for certain subject areas, including Computer Science, Physics, Medicine, Biosciences and Engineering. If it was required for your programme, you will have needed this to apply for your original Tier 4/Student visa.

In most cases, if you are required to submit an ATAS certificate, you will be able to use the original ATAS certificate that you were issued, even though it will have expired. However, if your award date will be more than 3 months after the course end date that was on the CAS for your last Tier 4/Student visa, you will need to apply for a new ATAS certificate. This can take 4-6 weeks to be processed. Our team will be able to help you work out whether a new ATAS certificate is required.


Any documents not in English must also include a professional translation. Translations must include:

  • confirmation that the translation is an accurate reflection of the original,
  • translator’s name, signature and date of translation,
  • translator’s contact details
  • list of translator’s qualifications or credentials.

Additional documents

The Home Office should not request any additional documents except in exceptional circumstances.


If your dependant family members are applying with you, please see our Dependants section for information about other documents required for them.  The Dependant documents are the same as for a Student Dependant.


Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS):

Compulsory, entitles you to access to National Health Service (NHS)

£470 per person.

Application fee:

Prices increase for premium applications to receive a quicker decision

£494.20 (standard), £994.20 (priority), £1,294.20 (super priority)

Additional charges:

Biometrics appointment at a UK Visa Application Centre

The closest free appointments are available in Cardiff, Croydon and Birmingham.  For other locations, Exeter, there will be a charge of £69.99 or more depending on the location and time of appointment.

To apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme, you must submit your application through International Student Support. We recommend that you contact us for a first appointment after you have submitted your initial thesis (and at least one month before your viva). You will then usually need to attend an appointment with us as soon as possible after your viva. Contact us to book an appointment or ask a question.