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Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES)

The Doctorate Extension Scheme (or DES) visa is for students who will be awarded a doctorate in the UK and who want to stay and work for a period of 12 months.

In April 2013 the Home Office introduced a new Tier 4 Student visa extension scheme for students studying towards a doctorate degree in the UK.

The Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) visa route is intended for students coming to the end of a doctorate course in the UK to be able to work in the UK without most restrictions for up to 12 months once they have completed their course.  You will be expected to switch into the Tier 2 General visa as soon as you have a job that meets the Tier 2 requirements.

You will continue to be monitored by Aston University and we will contact you 2-4 times over the 12 month period of your visa. You must let us know immediately if you leave the UK permanently or apply for another type of visa.

The University's rules and procedures for the Tier 4 DES scheme can be found in our Policy Guidance which we urge all students to read before applying for this visa.  

The University expects all students on the DES scheme to adhere by these rules and regulations and to keep the University updated throughout their leave as a DES migrant.

Once you have submitted a valid visa application under the doctorate extension scheme and you have been awarded your doctorate qualification you can work an unlimited number of hours almost without restriction. 

However you cannot be employed as a doctor or dentist in training, or as a professional sportsperson or sports coach. You are not required to take employment at any particular level.  You can also be self-employed on this visa type.

This scheme is available for students who have not yet completed their doctorate qualification.  Any student who has been awarded their doctorate will not be eligible to apply.

You must apply during the 60 day period immediately before the date the University expects to award your doctorate.  You are unlikely to be able to estimate your expected award date until you have had your viva and have submitted any corrections to your examiner(s).  Your estimated expected award date is decided in liaison with you, the International Student Adviser in the Hub and your School, and is recorded on your CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies).  You will need the CAS for the visa application. It is likely that you will need to apply for this visa after your examiner(s) has approved your corrections and before you submit the final bound thesis.  This could mean that you have to make an application very suddenly so it is a good idea to prepare the maintenance you will need from the date of your viva, just in case. 

Please note that we will not issue your CAS until we have seen evidence that you have the required funds for the visa application. 

The visa is granted from the expected award date on the CAS and not from the date that the visa is issued so you may get less than 12 months in practice. If this happens and you have dependants they will not be allowed to work so please speak to an International Student Adviser in The Hub about this.

If you want to send your application by post, you will need to complete a "Tier 4 (General)  online application".  You can find information about how to create an online application and how to complete the application form on our Tier 4 visa extension webpage.  It is very important that you check that all of the information in your online application form is correct.  It may not be possible to make changes after the application has been submitted! 

You will need to arrange an appointment to see an immigration adviser at The Hub Advice Zone so that we can check your application and arrange a CAS for you.  You will need to bring your login details and the following documents with you to your appointment with your immigration adviser:

  • Your current passport and any other passports that you have used to travel to the UK

  • Your Biometric Residence Permit, if you have one (this is your visa ID card). 

  • Your Police Registration Certificate (only if you are required to register with the police). 

  • Two recent identical colour passport sized photos with your name written on the back. 

  • Your bank statements or other financial evidence (see below for how much money you need to show)

We will send your application through the Check and Send Service. 

How much money will I need to show?

If you want to apply for this visa extension you will need to show that you have had £2,030, plus any writing up fee that you have not yet paid, available to you for a 28 day period ending no more than 31 days before you apply for the visa. 

In addition to this the visa application fee is £457 for the standard postal service (£475 if you apply on or after 6th April 2018), £916 for the Priority postal service (£952 if you apply on or after 6th April 2018) or £1047 if you book an appointment and go in person (£1085 if you apply on or after 6th April 2018), and you will also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS - see information below). 

As part of your Tier 4 DES visa application you will need to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).  This will cost £150 for every year that your new visa will last and £75 for every period of up to 6 months that your new visa will last.  You will be asked to pay this fee as part of your online application and you do not need to register to do this separately.  Your visa adviser will be able to help you with this when you are ready to submit your application.  There are plans to increase the ImmiGration Health Surcharge later this year to £300 per 12 months (£150 per 6 months).  We do not know yet when the new fees will be inroduced.


Page checked and updated 22/03/2018 LB