The Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme provides PhD graduates with a visa to remain and work in the UK for up to 12 months after graduation

The Doctorate Extension Scheme will close and merge with the Graduate Route when it opens on 1 July 2021. The Graduate route will give PhD graduates 3 years' permission (as opposed to 1 year), and so you may prefer to apply to the Graduate Route instead of the Doctorate Extension Scheme

Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES)

To be able to apply under this scheme you must:

  • Hold a valid Tier 4 (General) visa for a PhD programme at the University of Greenwich
  • Be within 60 days of fully completing your PhD and this must be confirmed by the University's RETI department (Research & Enterprise Training Institute).
  • Be ready to apply for the DES visa within the UK before your current visa expires
  • Be able to apply for the DES visa before the end of studies date stated on your Tier 4 CAS document
  • Meet all other Tier 4 requirements (including financial evidence)


If you wish to apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme, you should email the International Student Advice Service to express your interest, preferably before you undertake your viva:

After you have had your viva and are aware of the outcome you will need to update the International Student Advice Service, so that they can help you to plan your visa application to submit in the right time frame.

The expected end date of your programme

The end date of the programme of study is important to the DES visa.  The immigration rules define the 'expected end date' as:

'the date the PhD is expected to be formally confirmed, by the sponsor, as completed to the standard required for the award of the PhD.'

One of the requirements of the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme visa is that the application must be made within the 60 day period before the end of studies. The completion date of studies is taken to be the date that the award is confirmed by the university. This is usually the date of the relevant research degrees committee.

Getting your CAS document

The university will be able to issue a CAS for the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme after your viva has taken place and:

  • you have passed unconditionally, or
  • you have passed with minor corrections and have submitted these corrections

If you are required to make major corrections and resubmit your thesis, you will need to defer applying under this scheme to a later date.

When to apply

You can apply under the Doctorate Extension Scheme once you have been assigned a CAS number from the university and have the other supporting documentation ready.

You have to apply before the expected course end date as stated on the CAS. You must also apply before your current immigration permission expires.

Financial evidence

You must submit personal bank statements (or your parent's or legal guardian's bank statements) showing that you have held at least £2530 (Greenwich and Avery Hill Campuses)  or £2030 (Medway Campus) in your bank account for a consecutive 28 day period, ending no more than 31 days before the date of your visa application.

For more information on how to show evidence of your finances, see our information on the Tier 4 financial requirements.


If your dependants are in the UK, they will be able to extend their leave by applying for a visa extension as a Tier 4 DES dependant at the same time that you submit your DES visa application.

If your dependants are not currently in the UK, they will be able to join you by applying for a Tier 4 DES dependant entry clearance visa after your DES visa has been issued.

See the PBS Dependant Policy Guidance for full details.

University monitoring and reporting duties

If your application is successful, you will be granted Tier 4 DES immigration permission for a period of 12 months from the expected course end date on the CAS. Your new visa will state 'Tier 4 DES.' You will remain under the sponsorship of the university during this 12 month period. It will be necessary for holders of this visa to remain in contact with the university, as we will have monitoring and reporting duties to fulfil for UKVI. We will advise you of how to meet this requirement for contact when a CAS is issued to you.

Conditions of the visa

You can start work full-time or commence self-employment after you have submitted your application for a Tier 4 extension under the Scheme, provided you have received confirmation of the award of your PhD from the university (this can be before or after the expected course end date on the CAS).

Please be aware that you cannot work as a doctor or dentist in training or a sportsperson (including coaches).

For additional guidance and help with the application process, contact the International Student Advice Service.

If after reading the guidance above, you need further clarification, you can contact the International Student Advice Service. However you should only do this once you have carefully read through all the information above. If your query is answered in the above information, you may be re-directed back to the content above.