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The University of Southampton
Student ServicesVisa and immigration

Doctorate Extension Scheme

The Doctorate Extension Scheme is a type of Tier 4 visa.

It allows students finishing their PhD or doctorate qualification in the UK to extend their current Tier 4 (general) 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 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, visit the VISAS drop-in 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 Tier 4 (general) visa and would not become eligible for the Doctorate Extension Scheme until you complete your corrections. Visit the VISAS drop-in if you are unsure.

3. What do I need to prepare?

This is very similar to what you need to prepare for a Tier 4 (general) application but with some important differences listed below.

You can find general information about what to prepare to apply for Tier 4 (general) visa on the University webpage about applying inside the UK.

Visit the VISAS drop-in to speak to a Visa Advisor for 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 visit the VISAS drop-in for information about the documents you need to apply for a Doctorate Extension Scheme CAS. There is an administrative fee payable to the University for Doctorate Extension Scheme CAS.

Amount of money for financial evidence

One of the documents you must prepare is financial evidence. The money you 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 PBS Dependants. The amount of money per month is different for Tier 4 students and for PBS Dependant family members but the number of months to prepare is the same. 

You can find the amount of money you need to prepare for each month in Tier 4 Policy Guidance and PBS Dependant Guidance.

4. How do I apply?

Similar to a Tier 4 (general) visa application:

1. Prepare your CAS, documents and money for fees. You can find more information in the previous section of this webpage.

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 a Visa Advisor can check your documents and online application form and help you complete your application. We will help you to book a UKVCAS appointment to enrol your biometrics and upload electronic copies of your documents.

5. What happens after I apply?

Attend a UKVCAS appointment

You must bring:

  • UKVCAS appointment booking confirmation
  • Documents you prepared for your application
  • Your original passport

At your appointment you will:

  • Provide your documents
  • Give your fingerprints and have a photo taken of your face (biometrics)
  • Give your signature
  • You may also have an interview

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 the University VISAS team.

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 decision is successful and the University is not your postal address, you must bring your passport and BRP to the Student Services Centre when it has been delivered to you.

Check your BRP and decision letter or email

Your personal details, including your name, date of birth and nationality.

Expiry date. Your BRP should expire 12 months after the date you were awarded your PhD or doctorate qualification.

Police registration. Your decision letter or email will confirm if you and your Dependants 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 Tier 4 Policy 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 Tier 4 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 - Tier 4 Policy GuidanceUKVCAS - locations
UKVI - Immigration Health Surcharge
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