Doctorate Extension Scheme

Find out when to apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme and what you must to do complete your application.

How to apply for the scheme

You can apply for a Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme visa (DES) if you want an extra 12 months to look for and start work in the UK.

To apply for this visa, you must have:

  • had your viva
  • either passed unconditionally or submitted corrections
  • a current Tier 4 visa and apply from within the UK
  • evidence of £2,030 in funds, held for 28 days.

We will give you a DES CAS, which will allow to complete your application.

Find out how to apply for a Tier 4 DES visa.

Financial sponsorship 

You will need your sponsors permission to get a DES visa if you have been financially sponsored by a government or an international scholarship agency within the past 12 months.

Your sponsor must write a letter giving their unconditional consent for you to remain in the UK.

See Tier 4 policy guidance for details of what your letter of confirmation should contain.


If you have family with you on dependant visas, they are also eligible to extend their visas.

You or your dependant will need to show evidence of £1,360 in funds, held for 28 days. This amount applies to each dependant.

When to apply 

You must apply for a DES visa before you officially complete your PhD.

Your degree is formally completed when the exam board and our Senate approve your examiners’ recommendation to award your degree. It is essential you submit your DES visa application before this.

Start planning for your DES visa at least two months before you are due to submit your thesis.

If your visa is about to expire, or you’re about to have your viva, you must speak to an International Student Adviser. Email

Who cannot apply 

You can’t apply for a DES visa if you are:

  • outside the UK
  • in the UK on a short-term study visa
  • studying a research Masters degree (MRes or MPhil)
  • at Sussex on any visa other than a Tier 4.

Conditions of your DES visa

Your DES visa lasts for 12 months from the expected end date on your CAS.

You’ll continue to be sponsored by us during this 12-month period.

We will need to stay in touch with you during this time to fulfil our duties to UK Visas and Immigration. We confirm how this works when you get your new BRP.


Once your Tier 4 DES visa has been granted, you can work almost without restriction.

You do not need to get a job at a particular level and you can be self-employed.

You cannot work as a:

  • doctor or dentist in training
  • professional sportsperson or sports coach.

Extending beyond your DES visa

If you want to continue working and living in the UK after your DES visa expires, you’ll need to switch to another visa category, such as a Tier 2 working visa.

See our information about working in the UK after your studies.

See more from After your studies