If you are completing a PhD or a course at level NQF8/CQF8/SCQF12 at the University of Westminster, you may be eligible to apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES).

This allows you to stay in the UK and work for 12 months after you have completed your course. However, you must make a visa application before you have finished your PhD.

Please note that DES will merge into Graduate Route from 1 July 2021. If you are eligible to apply for the Graduate Route and can delay your application until it opens this will give you longer in the UK as the Graduate Route is 3 years and DES is 1 year.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You can only apply up to 60 days before your course end date, which is stated on the confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) you are using to apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme. You cannot apply earlier
  • You must apply before DES merges with the Graduate Route on 1 July 2021
  • You must not have completed your course. Please check the official course completion date with the Graduate School Registry Office (please note that your course completion date is not the same as your course end date). You must also inform the Graduate School Registry that you intend to apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme
  • You must get a Doctorate Extension Scheme CAS from the University of Westminster, as we will be sponsoring your visa while you remain in the UK on the Doctorate Extension Scheme
  • You must have a student visa or a Tier 4 visa and your visa must not have expired
  • You must be applying in the UK
  • You must have a minimum balance of £2,668 in your bank account for your maintenance. This money must be in your account when you make your visa application and must have been held for at least 28 consecutive days. If you have been legally in the UK with a Student or a Tier 4 visa for the past 12 months and are applying in the UK you may already meet the financial requirements
  • Your bank statement cannot be more than one month old at the time of application
  • If you were sponsored by an official financial sponsor for your degree and they will continue to sponsor you for your Doctorate Extension, you will need a letter from them confirming this
  • In some cases, if you were previously sponsored by an official financial sponsor, you must have a letter of consent for making this visa application. This is because some scholarships/sponsorships are dependent on you returning home immediately after completing your studies. Please check with Student Advice

When is the end date of my PhD?

You can apply for a Doctorate Extension Visa up to 60 days before your course end date. Sometimes, it is difficult to know when your PhD will be complete. If your Tier 4 visa is expiring before your Viva then the University will normally confirm in your CAS that your course end date is Viva date + 3 months. In this situation students need to apply for a Tier 4 Visa Extension before going on at a later date to apply for a Doctorate Extension.

If your Tier 4 Visa is expiring shortly after your Viva and so you are unsure on what date you will be completing your PhD then you should prepare for a Tier 4 Visa Extension. You can apply for the DES if you are then confirmed as completing within 60 days.

You should keep the Graduate Registry informed about whether you intend to apply for a DES.

How to apply

To apply you will need to:

  1. Discuss your course end date with the Graduate School Registry Office
  2. Request your CAS by completing the Doctorate Extension Scheme CAS request form: and emailing it to with accompanying documents
  3. Apply online via the Tier 4 application form to extend a Tier 4 Visa. There is not a separate Doctorate Extension application form

You can only start working full-time when you have made a successful application for leave to remain as a Tier 4 (General) Student on the Doctorate Extension Scheme and the University of Westminster has formally confirmed that your PhD is completed to the standard required for the award of a PhD. If you have made a Tier 4 visa application for a Doctorate Extension and you complete your course while you are waiting for the outcome of your visa application, you should contact Student Advice to find out whether you can start work.

When you have received your visa for the Doctorate Extension Scheme

Your new visa will be sponsored by the University of Westminster, just like the Tier 4 visa you had for your PhD. As your sponsor, we need to stay in contact with you while you remain in the UK under the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme.

You will need to make sure that:

  • You come in person to present your new Biometric Residence Permit as soon as you have received it
  • You let us know immediately if your contact details change
  • You respond promptly when we contact you. The University will be your sponsor while here on the Doctorate Extension, so we will be checking in with you by email at least twice during the period of your leave. If you fail to respond to these contacts, we are required to report this to the Home Office, which may act to curtail your leave

If I already have a Doctorate Extension can I apply for the Graduate Route?

Former Doctorate Extension Visa holders can not apply for the Graduate Route. If you already hold a Doctorate Extension Scheme visa you will not be able to top it up.

Useful websites

The UK Council for International Student Affairs