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What is the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme?

The information below is an overview of the scheme; please see the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme Guide  for further information and FAQs. Once you have submitted your softbound thesis, you may wish to attend one of our regular DES workshops.

The Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) is designed to provide a bridge for PhD students to Tier 2 (and Tier 1).

A visa issued under this scheme allows full-time Tier 4 students who complete a PhD at a UK institution time to find work with a Tier 2 employer, set up as an entrepreneur, or to gain practical work experience in their field. Dependants are allowed, in accordance with current rules.

To apply under this scheme you will need to be sponsored by the University with a new Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) and to make a new Tier 4 visa application before you complete your PhD. The DES visa will be granted for a period of 12 months from your expected completion date stated on the new CAS.

If the study for your PhD required ATAS clearance and your course end date is postponed by more than 3 calendar months, you must apply for a new ATAS certificate but you do not need to submit it with your other visa application supporting documents

During the year you will need to keep in contact with the University as your sponsor for the scheme.

Who can apply?

To be eligible for this visa you must:

  • Hold a valid Tier 4 (General) visa or a Student visa for PhD studies at Cambridge at the time of application;
  • Be inside the UK and able to make your visa application from within the UK;
  • Be a current student within 60 days of completion (completion is either approval by the Board of Graduate Studies or the submission of your hardbound, whichever is later);
  • Complete University declaration and payment;
  • Receive a CAS, and make the visa application within the 60 day period prior to receiving final approval for your degree;
  • Meet all other requirements of the Tier 4 application, including financial.

How can I apply?

  • Make sure to read the government's Tier 4 policy before requesting sponsorship from the University.
  • If you wish to apply for this visa, you will need to complete the DES Expression of Interest form, preferably before you undertake your viva.
  • After you have had your viva and are aware of the result you will need to update the International Student Team in order obtain a CAS number.
  • If you have no, or only minor, corrections to complete we will likely be able to agree with you an 'expected course end date' for your CAS at this stage. This is the date the University expects to approve you, unconditionally, for your degree.
  • If you do have major corrections we would recommend that you contact us again, approximately three weeks before you intend to submit your corrections.

Conditions of leave

  • Any leave issued under this scheme will expire twelve months after course completion;
  • Graduates sponsored by the University are required to make contact with the International Student Team three times during the year, at specific points, to advise on their current employment status and any changes to their immigration status. Please read Doctorate Extension Scheme Responsibilities to ensure that you understand the conditions of the scheme.
  • Until a student receives unconditional approval for their degree from the Board of Graduate Studies, standard Tier 4 conditions apply (e.g. your work hours are limited);
  • The less restrictive terms of the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension visa apply from the date on which the PhD is completed (if a valid visa application has been made before this date), even if the applicant is still awaiting the outcome of their visa application;
  • Under the Doctorate Extension Scheme, individuals cannot work as a Doctor or Dentist in training or a sportsperson (including coaches).

University Status

The Doctorate Extension Scheme enables the University to provide continued immigration sponsorship to PhD graduates for one year after course completion. As you will have finished your studies, you will no longer have a student status with the University and your access to facilities and support will be restricted to services provided to all Cambridge alumni.