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What is the Doctorate Extension Scheme?

The Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) enables students who complete a PhD at a UK institution to extend their visa for one year in order to gain work experience in their field, have more time to find longer-term work and switch to a work visa, or set up as an entrepreneur.

To apply under this scheme you will need to be sponsored by the University and make a new visa application before you complete your PhD. The DES visa will be granted for a period of 12 months from the expected completion date of your PhD. The visa is administered under the student permission to stay route.

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

The Home Office is scheduled to launch a new Graduate immigration route from 1 July 2021. This will replace the Doctorate Extension Scheme.

Who can apply?

To be eligible for this visa you must:

  • hold a valid Tier 4/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;
  • complete a University declaration and make a £50 payment;
  • receive a CAS, and make the visa application within the 60 day period prior to receiving final approval for your degree;
  • meet the requirements of a student permission to stay visa application.

How can I apply?

  • If you wish to apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme, you will need to complete the Expression of Interest form, 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 Office.
  • If you have corrections, you will need to keep the International Student Office updated on the progress for completion and approval.
  • You will need to agree an expected completion date for your PhD with the International Student Office. This is the date you will be given unconditional approval of your PhD which is normally the date you will submit your hardbound thesis, after you have completed any corrections and they have been approved. In addition to the hardbound thesis, you will need to upload an electronic version to the University repository by this date.
  • Once an expected end date has been agreed, you will need to complete the University declaration and make the £50 payment. You will then be issued a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) to support your visa application.
  • You must apply for the visa prior to completing your PhD, following the application process and requirements for a student permission to stay application.
  • Dependants will be able to extend their stay when you apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme.

Conditions of leave

  • Any leave issued under this scheme will expire twelve months after your expected course completion date.
  • As part of the University’s continued sponsorship of your visa, you will need to undertake certain responsibilities during your time on the scheme. Please ensure you read the Doctorate Extension Scheme Responsibilities guide to ensure that you understand the conditions of leave.
  • Until a student receives unconditional approval for their degree, standard student visa conditions apply (e.g. your work hours are limited).
  • On DES you can work full-time with the only restriction being that you cannot work as a Doctor or Dentist in training or a sportsperson (including coaches).
  • The less restrictive terms of the 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.

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.