Doctorate Extension Scheme (Tier 4)

Doctorate Extension Scheme (Tier 4)

On 6 April 2013 a new twelve month work scheme was introduced into Tier 4 for students completing a doctorate e.g. PhD, EngD, in the UK. The scheme is designed to allow full-time Tier 4 students who complete a PhD/doctorate a longer period to find work with a Tier 2 employer, set up as an entrepreneur, or to gain practical work experience in their field. The application can only be made from within the UK, it cannot be an Entry Clearance application.

In order to be able to apply under this scheme:

  • You must have current Tier 4 leave to study a PhD or other doctorate level degree at an HEI in the UK;
  • You must not have completed your course before 6 April 2013;
  • You must not have previously been granted leave under the doctoral extension scheme;
  • You must be following a course leading to the award of a PhD;
  • You must be sponsored by a sponsor that is a recognised body or a body in receipt of public funding as a higher education institution from the Department of Employment and Learning in England, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales or the Scottish Funding Council and that sponsor will be the sponsor awarding the PhD; and
  • You must be applying a maximum of 60 days before the expected end date of a course leading to the award of a PhD

The Tier 4 Policy Guidance contains full details of this scheme. There is a link on the right-hand side to this.

I am interested in applying. What do I need to do?

After your viva date has been agreed, you should complete the ‘Expression of Interest’ form available to download from the right-hand side of this page as soon as possible so that we are aware of your interest.

Once you have attended your viva, you will need to ensure that you keep the Immigration Service informed about the outcome of your viva. If you are required to make major corrections and resubmit your thesis you will need to defer applying under this scheme. Similarly, if you change your mind after submitting ‘Express of Interest’ form, for example, because you are offered Tier 2 sponsorship, you should notify us so that we do not hold back the conferral of your degree for DES purposes.

We would also advise you to ensure you have £2,030 in your bank account as you are required to show you have held this amount for 28 days at the time of submitting your application. If you have any dependants applying with you, you will need to show £1,360 for each of them in addition.

It is important that you take responsibility for the timing of your application (see section below). It is vital that you submit an application to the Home Office before your PhD is conferred and before your current Tier 4 visa expires.

When do I apply?

You cannot apply more than 60 days before your ‘expected end date’ and you must apply before your current Tier 4 visa expires. For the purposes of this application, your ‘expected end date’ will normally be calculated as follows:

– If you are given minor correction, your ‘expected end date’ will be the deadline for you to submit your minor corrections + 1 month (for example, if your minor correction submission deadline is 1 April, your ‘expected end date’ will be 1 May, and you can apply from the 59th day to 1 May, which is 3 March. This means the ideal window of time for you to make the application is between 3 March to 1 April, your submission deadline).

– If you pass your PhD straight away, your ‘expected end date’ will be the date of your viva plus two months. In most cases this also means that you should be able to make your DES application straight away. It is worth noting that you may have received different expected end dates in communications from the Graduate School or your department but the calculation here is purely for DES purposes.

– If you are given major correction, it is likely that you will be given a long period of correction time and therefore, you should wait until you have submitted your major correction. If you need to make a Tier 4 application to cover the period of correction, you should be aware that you are likely to need £1015×9= £9135 as financial evidence for the Tier 4 application.

You should note that it is not possible to apply after your PhD has been conferred.

How do I apply?

You will need to apply using the Tier 4 (General) Student application form. Applications are currently made using the ‘Tier 4 Online Student Application’ option. We have created sample guidance which you can link to on the right hand side of this page. It is only possible to make this application from within the UK, whilst you still have a valid Tier 4 visa.

The Immigration Service will check your documents and submit the DES application on your behalf using the‘Check & Send’ Scheme. At your appointment, the Adviser will ask you to sign a form which confirms you agree to adhere to the requirements of the scheme and that you will keep us up to date with your contact details. We will need to have contact with you at least twice during the validity of this visa.

A postal application would take about 8 weeks to process. It is possible to make your application in person by attending an appointment at a Premium Visa Application Centre. It is more expensive to do so but you will receive a decision on the same day. An appointment can only be made a minimum of 48 hours after the date you are submitting the Online Application. You may need to be flexible in terms of choosing which appointment you go to as there can be limited appointments available.Your visa (BRP) will then be posted to you by courier within 7-10 working days of the date of your appointment.How much does a DES application cost?

This application costs the same as a standard Tier 4 (General) application. The cost is £448 for a postal application. Please check the application form for the most up to date application fee. An in-person appointment would cost £948.

Please be aware that you will also need to pay £150 (per person) for the Immigration Health Surcharge.

What supporting documents do I need?

You will need the following:

  • Evidence of maintenance funds. This will be two months of maintenance which is currently £2,030. This needs to have been held in your account for a consecutive 28 day period on the date of application and the evidence you provide must be dated within 31 days of the date of your application. The Tier 4 Policy Guidance states details of what is acceptable forms of evidence for this.
  • If you have been fully sponsored by an international scholarship agency or organisation or Government you must obtain a letter of consent from them which confirms they are happy for you to stay in the UK under this scheme. If you are sponsored by the University then there is no need to obtain a consent letter.
  • 1 passport sized colour photos which meet the Home Office Photo Guidance requirements (see the link on the righ-hand side for this).
  • Your current passport and any previous passport which contains your current visa.
  • Your BRP (if you currently hold one).
  • Your Police Registration Certificate (if applicable).

Even if your PhD course required you to have an ATAS certificate, as long as it is still valid you will not normally require a new ATAS certificate when applying for DES.

What if my Tier 4 visa expires during the period of minor correction?

If your Tier 4 visa expires during the period of minor correction, you may have a few options. If you are in a position to submit your correction early, it may bring the ‘expected end date’ closer and you may be able to submit your DES application earlier than the standard calculation but you should not feel pressured to submit early for this reason. In other cases it may be possible to make a Tier 4 application first, with a view of varying it to a DES, or, you may need to make a Tier 4 application first, followed by a DES application. Your adviser will give you individual advice when you attend your 1st appointment after you have attended your viva.

You should be aware that if you need to make a Tier 4 application first, you are likely to need more than £2030 for this application. Depending on when you make the Tier 4 application, it is likely that you may need more than £2030 (you should prepare £1015 for each calendar month from the date you intend to make your Tier 4 application, to the date of your submission deadline).

How do I get my CAS?

You will need to request an appointment with an International Student Adviser in the Office for Global Engagement AFTER you have had your viva. The meeting will involve checking your application documents and also asking you to sign a form which confirms you understand and agree to adhere to the conditions of this scheme. When they are happy you meet all these requirements we can create the CAS for you. The CAS is usually created on the date that you submit your DES application.

What happens once my application has been submitted to the Home Office?

Once your Tier 4 Online Student Application is submitted online and you have paid your fee, you have 15 days in which to submit your supporting documents to the Home Office. The Immigration Service will arrange this for you. You will receive a letter from the Home Office asking you to go and provide your biometric details (fingerprints and photo) at a designated Post Office. Once you have done this your application will be processed by a Caseworker at the Home Office who will decide the outcome of your application.

Your documents and new visa (which will be a Biometric Residence Permit – BRP) will be posted back to the Immigration Service. We will then contact you to come and collect your documents from us.

How long will my new visa be valid for?

Your new visa will be issued for 12 months from the ‘expected end date’ that was put on your CAS.

I completed my PhD whilst on a Student Visitor Visa. Can I apply under this provision?

No. Only those with valid Tier 4 leave who have not yet completed their PhD/doctorate are eligible to apply.

My visa expires between my thesis submission and ‘expected end date’ of the course. Can I apply?

No. Only those who have current Tier 4 leave when they complete their course can apply. Students whose leave expires before they complete their course/submit their thesis/attend the viva must apply for further leave as a Tier 4 student if they wish to make a subsequent application for the Doctoral Extension Scheme.

What monitoring/reporting duties does the University have?

As a Tier 4 sponsor, the University has certain requirements we have to adhere to which are imposed by the Home Office. We will need to have at least two points of contact with you whilst this visa is valid to ensure you are adhering to the conditions of this visa. If the University finds you are not meeting the conditions of this visa or you do not respond to the contact we try to make with you we will have to report this to the Home Office who will then curtail your visa and you will be expected to leave the UK. Here are some examples of what we would have to report to the Home Office:

  • Confirmation that you have completed your course
  • If you fail your course are awarded a qualification lower than doctoral level
  • You miss a scheduled contact with us and fail to provide an adequate explanation for doing so
  • The University has reason to believe you are breaching the conditions of your leave
  • You are no longer participating in the scheme
  • The University withdraws its sponsorship

What type of work can I do under this provision?

Once you have applied under this scheme and your PhD has been conferred, you have no restriction on the type of work you can do or the numbers of hours you can work. You are able to work for an employer or be self-employed. It is not possible to be employed as a Doctor or Dentist in training or as a professional sportsperson (including coaches) under this category.

A potential employer is querying the working permissions I have. What should I do?

When your new visa is issued (in the form of a BRP), it will confirm that you are a Tier 4 (General) student on the Doctoral Extension Scheme and are permitted to work full-time after your course. The conditions of your leave will be set out in full in the accompanying approval letter the Home Office will send you. If you wish to take a full-time permanent vacancy while your application to the Doctoral Extension Scheme is still being processed, then the prospective employer may wish to seek verification that an in-time application has been made from the Employer Checking Service.

Can I bring dependants with me under this scheme?

Yes. If you wish to be joined by dependants who are currently overseas, your family members can apply for entry clearance under the established rules for Tier 4 dependants. Dependants who are already in the UK can stay, providing they meet the rules.

Can I leave and re-enter the UK once I have my Doctoral Extension Scheme visa?

Yes, you are permitted to re-enter the UK at any time during the validity of your leave.

What if I was required to apply to extend my Tier 4 Student visa to complete my PhD before applying for the Doctorate Extension Scheme and my application is still being considered but I am now in a position to apply under the Doctorate Extension Scheme?

You can apply to vary your Tier 4 General application to a Doctorate Extension Scheme application. If you are in this situation, we advise you to make an appointment to meet with an Adviser who will be able to assist you with this. You will be required to submit a new Doctorate Extension Scheme application with supporting documents and enclose a covering letter stating you are requesting to vary your application. The Immigration Service will be able to submit this new application to the Home Office on your behalf.