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Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES)

What is the Doctorate Extension Scheme?

The Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) is designed to give students who have almost finished their PhD or other doctorate qualification an additional 12 months of immigration permission in which to look for and start work in the UK.

From 1 July 2021 DES will merge into the new Graduate route. Under this new route a PhD graduate can apply for 3 years’ permission to stay in the UK to work. It will not be possible for a former DES participant to apply under the Graduate route. It will also not be possible for a current DES participant to apply for the balance of the 3 years’ permission that they would have been granted under the new scheme. If you do have the option to delay your DES application until 1 July 2021, this would give you three years’ permission, not one year. Your deadline for applying under DES is 60 days after your “expected end date”.

The following information is for those who must apply before 1 July 2021:

You can only apply in the UK under this scheme. You must be a doctoral candidate with current Tier 4 or Student immigration permission. This means you must be studying for a PhD qualification or one of the doctorate qualifications identified on page 69 of the Student route guidance as ‘Doctorate qualifications’.

When can I apply?

  • Once you have completed your Viva with no corrections and before you receive written confirmation or your award
  • Before the course end date as shown on your CAS (your course end date is the date you will be awarded your PhD)

Please note the latest date you can apply is the day before your end date as shown on your CAS Letter. Also, a new CAS Letter cannot be assigned until you are within 60 days of the expected end date of your course or after it has been confirmed that your doctorate has been awarded.

The Graduate School will provide you with will a DES application form and provide further guidance on what you need to do before you can apply for a CAS Letter. Please contact the Graduate School by email

When to apply

You can apply under DES after you have been assigned a CAS Letter for this scheme and after you have received Academic Technology Approval Scheme clearance, if you are required to apply for it. You must apply before the expected end date on the CAS. You must also make a valid application before your current immigration permission expires.

For detailed information about making a Student visa application see the Making a Student route application in the UK page.

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