This 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 0900 on 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.
Some students completing PhDs in 2021 may in theory be eligible to apply either under the DES before it ends on 1 July 2021, or later under the Graduate route. We expect that such people will normally choose to wait and apply under the Graduate route, simply because it gives 3 years' permission, while the DES gives only one year. However the DES may be a better option for some people, for example:
- a PhD graduate who only intends to work for a maximum twelve months anyway before either leaving the UK or switching to Skilled worker or another work route
- a PhD graduate who intends to start a business in the next 12 months and then switch into the Start-up route to develop their business further
The following information is for those who are applying under the DES, not the Graduate route. This is likely to be limited to those whose current Student permission ends before 1 July 2021.
It will not be possible for a former or current DES participant to apply under the Graduate route. UKCISA asked the Home Office to consider allowing those who obtained their PhD during their current DES permission to apply for the balance of 3 years' permission under the Graduate route, but this was not accepted.
The university or college where you are studying for your doctorate must be on the Register of licensed sponsors: students
. It must also be on the list of recognised bodies
or be a body in receipt of public funding as a higher education institution. If in doubt, ask your college or university if it meets these requirements.
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'. Students studying part-time doctorate courses under Tier 4 or the Student route (see Part-time postgraduate courses) are eligible to apply from within the UK if they can meet the requirements.
If you do not currently have Tier 4 or Student permission, you may consider applying under the Student route so that you can apply later under DES. You should seek advice about all your options before doing this, as it will not always be in your best interests to change to Tier 4 leave, particularly if your current immigration status can lead to settlement, and some people with short-term permission for the UK cannot switch into the Student route anyway.
For more information on the application, see Making a Student route application in the UK.