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What is the Doctorate Extension Scheme?

The information below is an overview of the scheme; please see the Doctorate Extensions Scheme Guide for further information and FAQs.

The Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) enables students who complete a PhD at a UK institution to extend their visa in order to have more time to find work with a Tier 2 employer, set up as an entrepreneur or gain work experience in their field.

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 visa route.

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

The Home Office intends to introduce a new Graduate route in summer 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 all other requirements of the visa application, including evidence of funds.

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.
  • You will need to agree an expected end date for your PhD with the International Student Office.
  • 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.

Conditions of leave

  • Any leave issued under this scheme will expire twelve months after your expected course completion date.
  • Graduates sponsored by the University are required to make contact with the International Student Office 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 student visa conditions apply (e.g. your work hours are limited);
  • 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;
  • 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.