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Doctorate Extension Scheme Visa

Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES) Visa

What is the DES Visa scheme?

The DES visa scheme is currently in place to allow Doctorate students (PhD or equivalent) to stay in the UK for one additional year after they have finished their studies, in order to look for and start work in the UK. This visa scheme falls under the Student Visa immigration route. Students who are eligible to apply for DES will require a new CAS issued by the University.

From 0900 on 1 July 2021 the Doctorate Extension Scheme visa route will close and it will no longer be possible to apply for a DES visa. On the same date the UK government will launch a new Graduate route.  Under this new route eligible PhD graduates can apply for 3 years' permission to stay in the UK to work.  Further information is available here.

When are you eligible to apply for the DES visa?

You are eligible to make a DES visa application with a CAS issued by Queen's University Belfast if: 

  • you are currently in the UK and you have Tier 4 or Student immigration permission to study a course that leads to the award of a PhD (or equivalent) qualification; 
  • you are studying at Queen's University Belfast;  
  • you apply before your existing Tier 4 or Student immigration permission expires; 
  • you apply before you complete your course (before you submit your hardbound thesis); and 
  • you apply in the 60 days before the course end date specified on the CAS. 

What conditions will be granted with the DES visa?

  • You will be granted one year’s Leave to Remain in the UK from the date of course completion as stated on your CAS. Your course completion date will be considered to be the day that you are expected to submit your hardbound thesis and the University confirms that you have met the required standard for the award.   
  • You will be permitted to work on a full-time basis from the date that you complete your course, although you will not be permitted to work as a Doctor or Dentist in training, or as a professional sportsperson (including as a coach). 
  • Your will continue to be monitored by Queen's University Belfast. ISS will contact you every three months to check that you are ok and still in the UK. If you do not respond to the email from ISS, we will assume that you are no longer in the UK and will make a report to UKVI to inform them that you are no longer here.   
  • You will not be permitted to undertake any further full time courses at Queen's whilst holding your DES visa. 

Where can you find more information?

If you would like to apply for DES please email International Student Support at and one of our immigration advisers will be happy to advise you about this process. 

Full details about this scheme are available in the UKVI Student Route guidance.

You can also find useful information on the UKCISA website for international students.

Visas & Immigration
V&I Webpage
International Student Support
ISS Webpage