Advice for living in Cardiff and the UK

DESire for the UK! What is the Doctorate Extension Scheme and could it be an option for you?

Kristina Bowers, International Student Advisor, tells us more about the Doctorate Extension Scheme…

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Have you fallen in love with Cardiff? Has the UK won your heart? If you’re thinking of staying on after your studies, then the Doctorate Extension Scheme, or DES, could be the immigration route for you.

Who is it for?

Let’s start with who can make use of the DES. This scheme is for those who are about to complete their PhD or one of the doctorate qualifications identified in Annex 4 of the Tier 4 policy guidance as ‘doctorates’. The research Master’s degrees listed in the same annex are not acceptable for the doctorate extension scheme. Unfortunately other qualifications will not qualify you for the DES. Contact us if you’re unsure whether you qualify.


What is it?

Next, what is the DES? This scheme allows those who qualify to apply for a visa for an additional 12 months to spend in the UK. In this time you are able to look for employment and start working. You are sponsored by the University rather than by an employer, so you are not tied to one employer. You can change jobs if you wish and there are no regulations regarding the level of job or the salary you must receive. You can also be self-employed if you prefer and take the opportunity to nurture a business venture. Do remember though that the visa is for one year only: if you wish to remain in the UK beyond that point you may want to think about finding a job that qualifies under Tier 2 regulations, or look into your options under Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)/(Entrepreneur). International Student Support can help you understand the regulations governing these categories to help you prepare.



So how can you apply for the DES? The first thing to consider is timing: your Tier 4 visa must be valid at the time you apply and the DES can only be applied for a maximum of 60 days prior to the expected end date of your course. But you can start preparations well in advance! You’ll need to come and see us at International Student Support to sign a DES agreement, we’ll help you understand the timings involved, your obligations (more about those further on) under the scheme, and answer any questions that you may have. The agreement will be sent through to the Points Based Immigration team who will create a CAS for your application.


Financial Evidence

You’ll need to prepare your maintenance funds, the money for your living costs, for your application. The DES falls under the Tier 4 umbrella, and so you’ll need to prepare your finances in much the same way as for previous Tier 4 applications you have made. Currently, however, you are only required to show 2 months’ worth of funds under this scheme. At the point of writing (2/9/2017) this means £2030 for a main applicant. The money must be held for a continuous period of 28 days. You’ll need to evidence the funds by providing bank statements that meet the Home Office requirements. Do check all requirements with the Tier 4 policy guidance as changes can occur.



Are your family in the UK with you? The good news is that your dependents can remain with you under the DES. You need to ensure that you prepare for their applications too, showing an additional £1360 per family member at the time of writing. If your family members are not currently in the UK with you, or if they have a visa that is not a PBS dependent visa, it’s best to come and talk to us about the options for them.


Once granted

Returning to the obligations placed on you: in fact, the DES offers you a lot of freedom! You don’t even have to remain in the Cardiff area, but can relocate to other parts of the UK if you wish. It is very important, however, that you remain in contact with the University. As part of the DES agreement you sign with us, you’ll agree to respond to contact from the University. You’ll be contacted by email at set contact points and MUST reply promptly. If you don’t, you risk being reported to the Home Office for failure to maintain contact. If this happens, your visa is curtailed (cancelled). So just make sure you keep in touch! You must also be aware that the conditions of the DES will not apply until your award is completed and confirmed.


Further information

More detailed information regarding the DES can be found on the relevant pages of the UK Council for International Student Affairs:

For any questions you may have or to discuss making your DES application, contact ISS. We’ll be more than happy to help!



Important: This blog is intended as an introduction to the DES category, not a comprehensive guide. For further information please refer to the Home Office official guidance and make an appointment to discuss your case with one of our experienced International Student Advisors.


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Best wishes,

Kristina Bowers, International Student Advisor.


Your Student Life, Supported.

The Student Support Centrehas a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice and MoneyCareers and EmployabilityCounselling, Health and WellbeingDisability and Dyslexia and International Student Support.

The Student Support Centres are located at 50 Park Place, Cathays Campus and Cardigan House, Heath Park Campus.

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