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Doctorate Extension Scheme (Tier 4)

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Doctorate Extension Scheme for PhD students

Frequently asked questions

Please click on the relevant section below to expand the guidance.
  • The Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) is aimed at Tier 4 students who are about to be awarded their UK PhD at a UK institution. Successful applicants are provided with an additional 12 months of Tier 4 (General) immigration permission to provide them with more time to find work with a Tier 2 employer, set up as an entrepreneur or gain work experience in their field.

  • 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


    • 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.

  • 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.


    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 Student Immigration & Compliance 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 do not notify us, 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.

  • 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 Doctoral College.
        • It is worth noting that you may have received different expected end dates in communications from the Doctoral College or your department but the calculation here is purely for DES purposes.
    • If you are given minor or major corrections:
      • 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 Doctoral College.
        • It is worth noting that you may have received different expected end dates in communications from the Doctoral College or your department but the calculation here is purely for DES purposes.
    • If you are given a 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 corrections before applying for DES.
      • 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.
  • 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 assist you with your DES application submission. At your appointment the adviser will also let you know the next steps for your 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 should 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 is 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.

  • The DES visa application costs the same as a Tier 4 visa application. To know more about the fee and the services provided by the UKVI, Click here.

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

  • 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.
      • Without their consent, you cannot apply for DES neither can you extend a Tier 4 visa.
      • If you are sponsored by the University of Warwick 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). Click here for more information.
  • If your Tier 4 visa will expire during the period of minor corrections, 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 corrections 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 Doctoral College 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 £1.015.00 for each calendar month from the date you intend to make your Tier 4 application, to the date of your correction submission deadline.

    Click here for more information

  • You will need to request an appointment with an International Student Adviser 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.

  • Once your Tier 4 Online Student Application is submitted and you have paid your fee, you will need to go to a Visa Application Centre (VAC) along with your documents. The closest free application centre to the University of Warwick and Coventry is near Birmingham International Airport, although there are others in the local vicinity that will charge you to use them. At the same appointment, you will be required to provide your biometric data, finger prints, photo and signature.

    Your new BRP will then be posted to the correspondence address used in the Tier 4 application. The visa application processing times are different according to the service you choose. For more details about the application: please click here.

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

  • No, only those students with a valid Warwick Tier 4 visa, who have passed their PhD, but not yet had their degree conferred, are eligible to apply.

  • 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 the DES visa is valid to ensure you are adhering to the conditions of this visa. The Compliance team will initiate contact with you. 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
  • 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 - the day your degree is conferred. You can then work more than 20 hours a week once your degree is conferred. 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.

  • 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, that is, submitted your DES visa application, and your PhD has been conferred, you have no restriction on the type of work you may do, apart from those mentioned above, or the number of hours you can work per week.

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

    Whilst holding a valid DES visa, you may switch into a Tier 2 visa (if you find an employer who has given you a job offer and is willing to sponsor your Tier 2 visa), a Start Up visa (if you have established a UK business whilst holding a DES visa or wish to do so, and the University agrees to continue sponsoring your Start Up visa), or other types of visas if eligible. Please see more information on our Visas Portal.

  • 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.

  • 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 dependant's maintenance is on top of the £2,030 requirement of the main DES applicant. They will also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge which is currently £300.00 per person.

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

  • The following websites provide useful additional guidance:


    Home Office - Policy Guidance

    Home Office - Employer Checking Service

    Home Office - Tier 4 Online Student Application Form