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The University of Southampton
Student ServicesVisa and immigration

Doctorate Extension Scheme

The Doctorate Extension Scheme is a type of Student Visa.

It allows students finishing their PhD or doctorate qualification in the UK to extend their current Student Visa for 12 months to look for a job and start work.

The information on this page is about applying for the Doctorate Extension Scheme, including:


  1. Who is eligible?
  2. When can I apply?
  3. What do I need to prepare?
  4. How do I apply?
  5. What happens after I apply?

1. Who is eligible?

You must meet all the following requirements to apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme at Southampton:

  • have a valid Student Visa/Tier 4 (general) visa sponsored by University of Southampton
  • study a programme leading to a PhD or doctorate qualification

You can only apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme inside the UK.

2. When can I apply?

There is a very short window of opportunity to apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme. If you are interested, contact us around the time of your viva voce exam to talk to a Visa Advisor.

You can apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme:

  • no more than 60 days before the date you are awarded your PhD or doctorate qualification
  • after your corrected thesis is approved by the examiner, you complete your final tasks and your Faculty decide your expected award date
  • before you are awarded or your current visa expires, whichever is earliest

If you will not be able to complete your corrections before your current visa expires, you would usually need to extend your current Student Visa and would not become eligible for the Doctorate Extension Scheme until you complete your corrections. Contact us if you are unsure.

3. What do I need to prepare?

This is very similar to what you need to prepare for a Student Visa application but with some important differences listed below.

You can find general information about what to prepare to apply for a Student Visa on the University webpage about applying inside the UK.

Contact us to request a full list of what you need to prepare for your Doctorate Extension Scheme application.

What's different about preparing for the Doctorate Extension Scheme?

Applying for a CAS

You must contact us for information about the documents you will need to apply for a Doctorate Extension Scheme CAS. There is an administrative fee of £100 payable to the University for the Doctorate Extension Scheme CAS.

Amount of money for financial evidence

If you and your Dependents have been living in the UK for the past 12 months or more on a Tier 4 (general) or Student Visa, then you will not need to provide financial evidence for your Doctorate Extension Scheme visa application.

However, If you have left the UK within the last 12 months and you have not had a valid Tier 4 (general) or Student Visa but you have since returned here on a Tier 4 (general) or Student Visa, then you will need to show financial evidence for the visa application. This will also apply to all of your dependents.

The money you would need to prepare in financial evidence for the Doctorate Extension Scheme is the equivalent of 2 months for each applicant.

This applies to you and any family members joining you as Dependants of a Student. The amount of money per month is different for Students and for Dependant family members, but the number of months to prepare is the same. 

You can find the amount of money you and your Dependents need to prepare for each month in the Student Visa guidance

4. How do I apply?

Similar to a Student Visa application:

1. Prepare your CAS, documents and money for the visa application fees and IHS.

2. Prepare your online visa application form If you will apply with the help of the University VISAS team, do not sign the declaration or pay for your application online before you book your visa advice appointment.

3. Book a visa advice appointment with the University VISAS team so that a Visa Advisor can check your documents and online application form and help you complete your application. We will help you to upload electronic copies of your documents to the UKVCAS website.

5. What happens after I apply?

Biometric Reuse

If you have provided your fingerprints for a previous visa application within the last 5 years, you may be contacted by UKVI to inform you that they will re-use your fingerprints for your new visa application.

You will then be sent a link to download the IDV app. The IDV app is available to download on the following smart phones:

  • Android: IDV app works on devices having a camera with minimum 5 megapixels and running Android 7.0 and above.
  • iOS: IDV app works on iPhone 6 and above and having version iOS 12 and above.
  • The IDV app is currently not compatible with tablets/iPads

Please see the IDV app FAQs for further information.

There is also a video available to help you navigate the app.

You can either upload your documents onto the UKVCAS website, after you have submitted and paid for your application, or you can upload your documents onto the app. Once you have submitted on the app, UKVI will start to process your application. You will not need to book an appointment at a UKVCAS centre. Your application will be invalid if you do not complete the final submission on the app. 

If UKVI cannot reuse your biometrics, then you will be invited to book an appointment at a UKVCAS centre.

Book an appointment at a UKVCAS Centre

Log in to your UKVCAS account to book your appointment.

Appointments at 'Core' centres, such as Croydon, are free during regular opening hours, but there will be a fee to pay for an appointment outside of these hours.

For appointments at 'Enhanced' centres such as Southampton, you will have to pay a fee during regular opening hours, and an increased fee for an appointment outside of these hours. 

You must ensure that you upload all of the mandatory documents, which are required for your application (and for all of your dependents if applicable) to the UKVCAS website, before you attend your appointment. If you plan to apply with the University VISAS team at a visa advice appointment, we can help you with this step. If you do not plan to apply with the University VISAS team, you must book and attend a UKVCAS appointment yourself.

When you attend your appointment, you must take with you the following documents:

  • Appointment booking confirmation
  • Your current passport (and current passports for all of your dependents, if applicable)
  • Documents required for your application (you will have already uploaded these to the UKVCAS website, but it is recommended to take these to your appointment in case there is a technical error and your document scans are not showing)

At your appointment, you will:

  • Provide your passport (and for each of your dependents, if applicable) 
  • Give your fingerprints and have a photo taken of your face (and for each of your dependents, if applicable)
  • Give your signature (and for each of your dependents, if applicable)
  • You may also have an interview

Your application will be invalid if you do not attend a UKVCAS appointment to enrol your biometrics.

Receive application decision

You will usually receive an email from the Home Office GOV.UK to inform you of your application decision.

If you do not receive a decision email before you receive your BRP, contact us.

Receive your BRP

If your application is successful and the University is your postal address, VISAS will email you to collect your BRP when it has been delivered. This is usually 5 - 10 working days after you receive your application decision. 

If your application is successful and the University is not your postal address, you must contact us to let us know you have received your BRP.

Check your BRP and decision letter or email

You must check that all of the following information is correct on your new Doctorate Extension Scheme visa - your BRP card:

  • Your personal details, including your name, date of birth and nationality
  • Expiry date - this should be exactly 12 months following your award date.
  • Police registration. Your decision letter or email will confirm if you and your Dependants (if applicable) are required to register with the police. If it is not written in your decision letter or email, it is not a requirement of your visa. You can find out how to register with the police or update your existing registration on our police registration webpage.

Work conditions

Your work conditions will be printed on the front of your BRP. You can find an explanation of your new work conditions in the Student Visa Guidance and on the UKCISA webpage about working after studies.

Working hours

There is no restriction on the number of hours you can work per week.

Type of work

You cannot work as

  • a Doctor or Dentist in training
  • a professional sportsperson or coach

There is no other restriction on type of employment.

Contact points

You must update your contact details throughout the Doctorate Extension Scheme.

The University will be the Student Sponsor of your Doctorate Extension Scheme visa and must maintain contact with you during the 12 month duration of your visa.

We will contact you on two occasions. If you miss these contact points without a reasonable explanation, the University must remove sponsorship of your Doctorate Extension Scheme visa.


Useful external links

Please note: the University of Southampton cannot accept responsibility for the content of external websites

UKCISA - working after studiesUKVI - Student Visa GuidanceUKVCAS - locations
UKVI - Immigration Health Surcharge
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