Doctorate Extension Scheme

Current PhD students wishing to extend their Student Visa can apply for the Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES). This allows you to stay in the UK for a further 12 months upon completion of your PhD.

End of the DES Scheme

In the summer of 2021, the DES Scheme will be closed and be replaced with the Graduate Immigration Route for students who are awarded their degree from the summer of 2021 onwards.

If you already have a DES visa at that point, it will not be possible to switch into the Graduate visa.


Where you have already been awarded your PhD you cannot apply for the DES. You must apply via a different route if you wish to work in the UK.

The Student Advice Centre can provide advice on applying for a visa under work categories.

Where you wish to extend your Student Visa for after your PhD end date you must:

  • apply inside the UK
  • hold a valid Student or Tier 4 visa at the time of application
  • be a current student within 60 days of expected completion
  • meet all other requirements of the Student Visa application stated on the page below

How to Apply

1. Visit an International Student Adviser at the Advice Centre as soon as possible to establish if the DES is the best option for you.

Student Advice Centre

2. Where it has been established that DES is the best option for you, request a DES CAS application form from International Student Support before you intend to submit your thesis.

Contact International Student Support

3. Once you receive the outcome of your viva, take your DES CAS application to your supervisor to confirm the expected date that your final e-copy will be submitted.

4. Return your completed form to International Student Support (ISS). ISS will advise you on any further actions you may be required to take, such as applying for ATAS or obtaining a consent letter from your previous sponsor.

5. Where you are deemed eligible for a DES CAS your information will be submitted to the Home Office and you will be booked onto a Visa Extension Scheme appointment.

6. You will then receive an email confirming your new CAS number to include in your visa application.

7. Complete the relevant sections of your visa application and attend your Visa Extension Scheme appointment before submitting. Visit the page below for guidance.