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Doctorate Extension Scheme (Tier 4)

We have provided some useful and factual information below that we recommend reading through if you are interested in DES (Doctorate Extension Scheme). Including what it is and who can apply, what you need to do to apply; when and how can you apply, what does it cost and what documents you would need.

There is guidance on your options if your Tier 4 visa expires during a period of minor corrections, how to get a CAS, what happens when your application has been submitted, and how long will a DES visa be valid for.

Other topics covered are if you have a student visitor visa can you apply, what are the monitoring / reporting duties, when can you start working more than 20 hours per week, what work you can do and how does an employer know what you can do, and can dependants join you and their maintenance requirements.

Who can Apply?

DES is only for Tier 4 students completing a doctorate e.g. PhD, EngD within the UK. The scheme is designed to help this group of students enough time 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.

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 already been granted leave under the DES;
  • You must be following a course leading to the award of a PhD;
  • You must be a current student at the University of Warwick 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.

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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. This must preferably be done before your viva so that we are aware of your interest.

By submitting an interest form, the conferral of your degree will be held back from senate so that you can complete the visa application process. Please note we are not able to hold you off the pass list indefinitely (normally no more than 3 weeks)

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 as you will first need to apply for a TIER 4 extension to cover the period.

If you no longer wish to apply for DES after submitting the 'Expression of Interest' form, for example, because you are offered Tier 2 sponsorship, it is your responsibility to notify us, If you don't then we may hold back the conferral of your degree for DES purposes hence delaying your graduation.

We would also advise you to ensure you have £2,030.00 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 also need to show £1,360.00 for each of them.

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.

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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.

The “expected end date” is defined by the Home Office Immigration Rules as “the date the PhD is expected to be formally confirmed, by the sponsor, as completed to the standard required for the award of the PhD”.

For the purposes of this DES application, your 'expected end date' will normally be calculated as follows:

  • 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.

If applying for DES then you must submit the hard bound copy of your thesis within 21 days of your pass date to the Graduate School.

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 minor or major correction, your 'expected end date' will normally be after you have passed your corrections, on the date of the next pass list.

You are not able to apply until you have submitted your corrections and the corrections have been approved. You then have a maximum of 28 days to apply for DES from your pass date.

If applying for DES then you must submit the hard bound copy of your thesis within 21 days of your pass date to the Graduate School.

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 Re-Submission, it is likely that you will be given a long period of correction time. You should therefore wait until you have submitted and passed 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 £1,015.00 x 9 months = £9,135.00 as financial evidence for the Tier 4 application.

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

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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. 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. At your appointment the advisor will also let you know the next steps for you application such as where to go for your Biometrics enrolment. As a part of sponsorship duties, You will be required to be in contact with us at least twice during the validity of this DES visa.

A standard application would take about 8 weeks to process. It is possible to make your application using priority or super priority service. It is more expensive to do so but you will get a decision quickly (see details). 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 the immigration service (if our address used as correspondence) by courier within 7-10 working days of the date of your decision letter sent to you via email by the UKVI.

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How much does a DES application cost?

This application costs the same as a standard Tier 4 (General) application. There are 3 options for you to choose from:

  • Standard Service: cost £494.20 inclusive of biometric enrolment fees;
  • Priority Service: cost £971.20 inclusive of biometric enrolment fees;
  • Super priority service: cost £1104.20 inclusive of biometric enrolment fees.

Please check the application form for the most up to date application fee.

You will also need to pay £300.00 (per person) for the Immigration Health Surcharge at the time of submitting your application

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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 £2,030.00

    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 are 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.

  • 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).

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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.

  1. You may need to make a Tier 4 application first to cover the time needed for minor corrections, followed by a DES application.

  2. If you are in a position to submit your correction early (before your current visa expires), it may be possible to bring the 'expected end date' closer. This may enable you to apply for DES earlier than the standard calculation.

There are some other factors that would affect this which would need to be discussed first with the Graduate School and your Department.

 You should not feel pressured to submit early for this reason.

 If you are in this position then you should meet with an adviser to discuss your options.

If you need to make a Tier 4 application first, you are likely to need the higher level of maintenance funds in place before you can apply. Depending on when you make the Tier 4 application, you should prepare £1015.00 for each calendar month from the date you intend to make your Tier 4 application, to the date of your correction submission deadline. More information

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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. You should ensure that you complete as much of the on-line form as possible before your appointment and bring ALL of the supporting documents required.

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.

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

Once your Tier 4 Online Student Application is submitted and you have paid your fee, you have 15 days in which to submit your supporting documents to the Home Office. If you have submitted you application through us we (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 BRP (Biometric Residence Permit) will be posted back to the Immigration Service. We will then contact you to come and collect your documents from us.

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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.

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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.

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What monitoring/reporting duties does the University have?

As a Tier 4 sponsor, the University has certain requirements that 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 or 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

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When can I start working full-time (more than 20 hours per week)

If your Doctorate Extension Scheme application is approved, you will be subject to new work conditions once you successfully complete your course. Under the new conditions, there will be no restrictions on the type of employment you may take other than as a Doctor or Dentist in training or a sportsperson (including coaches). You will be regarded as having successfully completed your course on the date that your sponsor formally confirms that your PhD is completed to the standard required for the award of a PhD.

What type of work can I do under this provision?

A DES visa does not allow you to be employed as a Doctor or Dentist in training or as a professional sportsperson (including coaches).

Once you have applied for DES (submitted your application) and your PhD has been conferred, you have no restriction on the type of work (apart from those mentioned above) you can do or the numbers of hours you can work.

You are able to work for an employer or be self-employed.

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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.

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Can my dependants apply and their maintenance requirements

If you are applying for the doctorate extension scheme and you hold Tier 4 (General) immigration permission to study a full-time PhD course, the following family members are eligible to join you or stay with you in the UK:

  • spouse or civil partner
  • unmarried partner or same-sex partner who is not a civil partner
  • children (they must be under 18 if they have not yet applied to join you. It does not matter if they become 18 during their time in the UK, as long as they do not start to lead an independent life).

If they are applying inside the UK, they can have any type of immigration permission except:

  • visitor (this includes all visitor categories)
  • short-term student or short-term student (child)
  • parent of a Tier 4 (Child) student
  • temporary admission or temporary release.

Each family member will need to show £1,360 and the money must have been held for 28 days before the date of the application. The policy guidance for Points Based System dependants lists the forms of acceptable evidence of funds. The dependants maintenance is on top of the £2030 requirement of the main DES applicant.

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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.

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How do I meet with an Advisor?

Make an appointment with an advisor.

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Further Information:

The following websites provide useful additional guidance:


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Quick Links

Request an appointment with the Immigration Service (after you have had your viva and know the outcome)

Home Office - Policy Guidance

Home Office - Photo Guidance

Home Office - Employer Checking Service

Home Office - Tier 4 Online Student Application Form

DES Tier 4 Application Form Guide

Expression of Interest form Submit only after VIVA date known and you have an email from department / supervisor confirming the date