Doctorate Extension Scheme

If you have almost finished a UK PhD or other doctorate qualification this scheme allows an additional 12 months of Tier 4 immigration permission in which to gain experience in your specific field.

Please note from 9am on 1 July 2021, DES will merge into the new Graduate route under which a PhD graduate can apply for permission to stay in the UK to work for 3 years. You can find out more about this on the "Graduate Route" page on our website. If you have been granted a DES visa, you will not be eligible to apply under the Graduate route.

On this page you can find information about:


To qualify for the Doctorate Extension Scheme, a student must:

  • Hold a valid Tier 4 (General) or Student visa to study a programme that leads to a PhD qualification
  • Be studying with an UK HEI that holds a Tier 4 sponsor licence
  • Have not yet completed their programme
  • Have a CAS which confirms that the sponsor expects them to successfully complete the programme and that they will provide sponsorship during the 12 months that you are on the scheme
  • Apply for the visa from within the UK
  • Apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme visa no more than 60 days before the expected award date on the CAS

Expected award date

Your expected award date will be the 28th day of the month in which you submit your final thesis (after your viva and corrections). For example, should you plan to submit your final thesis in the first week of April, the expected award date on your CAS will be 28th April and you will be required to submit your visa application no more than 60 days before 28th April.

What if your current visa expires before your expected award date?

If, once you have had your viva, you have corrections to complete but your current Tier 4 visa is not long enough to allow you to complete them, you will need to apply for a Tier 4 visa extension.

University monitoring and reporting duties

As your sponsor, the University has certain duties and responsibilities which it is required to adhere to by the Home Office. The University will need to have at least 2 points of contact with you during the length of your DES visa to ensure that you are meeting the conditions of the visa. If the University finds that you have failed to meet the conditions of the visa or if you fail to make contact with your nominated Engagement Monitor, we will report this to the Home Office, withdraw sponsorship of your visa and you will be required to leave the UK.

Working on the Doctorate Extension Scheme

If your application is successful, you will be granted a Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme visa for a period of 12 months from the expected end date on your CAS.  When you have been awarded your PhD, you can work almost without restriction. As long as your award has been confirmed, you can also start working without the usual Tier 4 restrictions while your application is still pending with the Home Office.  The only restrictions are that you cannot work as a doctor or dentist in training, or as a professional sportsperson or sports coach. 


You will need a new CAS number issued by UCL in support of your DES application. To obtain this, you will need to complete the 

 and send it to the Student Immigration Compliance Team by opening an enquiry via AskUCL. Please ensure the form has been approved by your Supervisor, Departmental Graduate Tutor and Departmental Engagement Monitor before sending it to Visa Compliance Team. 

Please allow five working days to receive an email confirming that your form has been received. You need to ensure you meet the following conditions before submitting the DES CAS request form:

  • you have reached the viva stage of your research programme and are ready to submit your final thesis

  • you have agreed an expected award date with your research supervisor

Once you have received your DES CAS, please make an appointment with the Student Immigration Advice Team by using the contact form. They will be able to assist you with your visa application. 

Applicants must hold a valid Tier 4 student visa as well as £2668 for 28 days at the time of making the application. You will also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge of £470 to cover the 12-month period of the Doctorate Extension visa. The 12-month Tier 4 Doctorate Extension visa will begin on the PhD date of award. Applications submitted after the date of award will be refused. The online 
application form is available here.

Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme student responsibilities

Once you have obtained your new Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme visa, please take it to the Student Centre (in the Chadwick Building) so scans can be taken for our records. As your sponsor, we are required to hold copies of your DES visa.

By applying for sponsorship from UCL for the DES visa, you must read and understand the following:

You will ensure that you submit your Doctorate Extension Scheme visa application no more than 60 days before your expected award date. This must also be before your current Tier 4 visa expires

  • Your DES visa will expire 12 months after your expected award date
  • You will take your DES Biometric Residence Permit to the Student Centre to be scanned onto your student record
  • You will keep UCL updated of any changes to your contact details while you hold a DES visa
  • You will notify UCL if you permanently leave the UK – this will be reported to UKVI and your visa will be curtailed
  • You will promptly respond to contact that is made by your DES Engagement Monitor – if you fail to do so, this will be reported to UKVI and your visa will be curtailed
  • If, after you have applied for the DES visa, you fail to complete or fail your PhD we will report this to UKVI and your visa will be curtailed
  • The work conditions of the DES visa will not apply until you have submitted an application to the Home Office and the award of your PhD has been confirmed. There are no restrictions on work for DES migrants (except for work as a doctor or dentist in training or as a professional sports person or coach)
  • UCL may withdraw sponsorship of your DES visa should it be made aware that you are in breach of the conditions of the scheme