Doctorate Extension Scheme

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

The visa allows these researchers 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 graduates 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 researcher 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.

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

PhD Researchers 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 PhD Researcher apply?

Applications must be made:

  • before the existing Tier 4 leave expires
  • before completion of 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  thesis.

What do PhD researchers need to do before applying for the DES visa?

PhD Researchers 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 Research Director providing their support for the DES application.  The Doctoral College can provide further guidance on this to Research 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 PhD Researcher 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 attendance monitoring obligations?

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

You should however note we are still obliged to report anyone who fails 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