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Doctorate Extensions Scheme (DES)

What is the Doctorate Extension Scheme?

The Doctorate Extension scheme (DES) allows students who have almost completed their UK doctorate* qualification to stay in the UK for a further 12-month period on a Tier 4 visa in order to look for employment. During the 12-month period students are sponsored by the University of Chichester. Once you have completed your doctorate you are able to work full-time for an employer or to be self-employed.

*see acceptable qualifications in Tier 4 Policy Guidance, Annex 4

Why can apply for this?

Students interested in the scheme need to meet the UKVI doctorate extension scheme criteria in order to apply.

You must…

  1. be a doctorate student who has not completed their studies
  2. be within 60 days of completing your doctorate
  3. hold a Tier 4 visa
  4. be in the UK to apply
  5. have £2030 in maintenance funds in order to apply for a visa. The money must have been in your bank account for a period of 28 days and the bank statement(s) must be dated within 31 days of your visa application date.

Applications process explained

You can apply for this scheme if you are within 60 days of completing your doctorate (see “how we define the ‘expected end date’” section below). You should let the Research Office (pgrsupport@chi.ac.uk) know that you are interested in this scheme as soon as possible before your viva.

Step 1: Before your viva find out about the scheme and the requirements to make sure you are eligible.

Step 2: Once you have had your viva speak to PGR Support and ask for the CAS request form (pgrsupport@chi.ac.uk).

Step 3: Contact the University’s International Student Advisory Service (ISAS) for immigration advice, to check your eligibility for the scheme and receive assistance on completing the form (international@chi.ac.uk).

Step 4: Meet with Director of Research to discuss your expected end date.

Step 5: Completed CAS request form including signatures should be sent to the Student Records Manager, Academic Registry who will arrange issue of a CAS to you, provided all requisite information has been provided and you are within 60 days of completing your PhD studies. 

Step 6: Apply for a Tier 4 DES visa before the ‘expected end date’ on your new CAS, before you complete your doctorate and before the expiry date of your current visa.

Step 7: Inform PGR Support that you have submitted your visa application and agree arrangements for maintaining contact with the Research Office.

Step 8: Once you receive your visa you must provide a copy of it to PGR Support.

You can remain in the UK while your application is being decided and start working full-time once you have completed your PhD even if you have not yet received your Doctorate Extension Scheme visa decision.

How is the 'expected end date' defined?

The ‘expected end date’ is the date the Board of Examiners meet to confirm that you can be awarded your doctorate and this may be different to the end date stated on your original CAS for your doctorate studies.

The ‘expected end date’ will be agreed by the Research Office who will take into account your viva date and the outcome of your viva.  Sometimes the ‘expected end date’ may be less than 60 days away.

Can my dependants apply under this scheme?

Your dependants can apply under the DES scheme. You will need additional maintenance funds and should contact  ISAS regarding the requirements.

Doctorate Extension Scheme visa length

Your visa will be granted for a period of 12 months starting from the ’expected end date’ as stated on the CAS. It is not possible to apply for further leave under this scheme but you can switch to other categories e.g. Tier 1 or Tier 2 if you meet the criteria.

What happens if I have corrections and my visa is not long enough to allow completion?

In some cases, it may be possible to extend your existing Tier 4 visa.  This needs to be discussed with PGR Support, Academic Registry and ISAS as we need to be confident that your continued participation is required and we can meet our sponsor duties.

What happens if I apply for a Doctorate Extension Scheme visa and I don't complete my PhD?

If you receive a lower qualification or no qualification the University must report this to UKVI and your visa will be curtailed to your original course end date plus four months.

What type of work can I do?

Before you have completed your doctorate you will have restricted working rights as explained in the Tier 4 Policy Guidance. There are fewer restrictions on your ability work once the University has confirmed that you have successfully completed your PhD. However, these restrictions still apply:

  • You will not be able to work as an entertainer or professional sportsperson or coach
  • You can’t work as a doctor or dentist in training

Where do I find the application form?

The DES application form is available to print from the International Student Advisers’ Moodle pages (Student Support and Wellbeing > International Student Advisory Service > DES)

Who can help me with the visa application process?

ISAS can provide immigration advice and check your documentary evidence and your online application form before you submit the application to UKVI. Please email international@chi.ac.uk to book an appointment.