Doctorate Extension Scheme

The DES is a version of the Tier 4 visa which is specific to students completing a PhD or other doctorate-level qualification at an HEI in the UK.

The visa allows these students to be able to apply to stay in the UK on a Tier 4 visa for 12 months after they complete their course.

This 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.

Who can apply for a visa under the Scheme?

Any PhD student who has current leave to remain under a Tier 4 visa and who has completed their oral examination may apply to the University for sponsorship of the visa.

Students on other visas are not eligible to apply under the scheme.

Students who have not yet attended their viva voce examination will not be eligible to apply, however they are encouraged to approach the Doctoral College to make preliminary arrangements prior to the examination.

When can a student apply?

Applications must be made:

  • before the student’s existing Tier 4 leave expires
  • before the student completes their course
  • within 60 days of the course completion date on the DES CAS*

*The completion date for the purposes of the DES visa will normally be the date of submission of the final red bound copies of the student’s thesis.

What do students need to do before applying for the DES visa?

Students should express their interest in applying for the visa by contacting the Doctoral College to discuss the process.

They will need to be able to provide the following information:

  • A statement from the student’s Research Director providing their support for the DES application.  The Doctoral College can provide further guidance on this to RI Directors.
  • Bank statements showing sufficient funds to cover at least two months living costs in the UK. This figure is currently £1,015/month for locations outside London.  You should read Financial Requirements - Extensions
  • A completed Doctorate Extension Scheme Request Form

Is ATAS clearance required?

If the research falls under specific JACS codes then further ATAS clearance will be required.  The only exception to this is if a student will be submitting their DES visa application within 28 days of the course completion date on the DES CAS (see * above).

Can an application be made outside the UK?

No – all applications must be made from within the UK

Do I still have to sign-in every two weeks?

No – although you will still hold a Tier 4 visa the University is only required to monitor students on the Scheme twice yearly by email.

You should however note we are still obliged to report any students who fail to maintain contact so it is important that you keep the University updated with your address, phone number and email address.

Ulster University Doctoral College - Social