Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

Students in lab coats working in a chemistry laboratory

ATAS

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) is the UK's immigration approval system for international students and researchers in selected science areas.

The requirement to have ATAS clearance applies to all international students and researchers (apart from exempt nationalities) who are subject to UK immigration control who are conducting research or studying courses leading to a qualification at masters or doctorate level (PhD) in certain science and technology subjects. If the ATAS requirement applies to you, you will need to make an application for ATAS clearance.

ATAS applications are processed by the UK government department, the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO). Applications are made online, and once your clearance is granted, you will receive an ATAS certificate as confirmation. Please take care to ensure the details you submit in your ATAS application are correct and match those held by the University.

Who needs ATAS clearance?

Students (MEng, MSci, MSci, MRes, MPhil, PhD)

If your course requires ATAS clearance you will need to obtain an ATAS certificate before you can apply for your visa. The ATAS certificate is also required before you can register at the University.

Students applying under the Student visa route will have the ATAS requirement stated in their CAS document. Students coming for less than six months on a Standard Visit visa will have the ATAS requirement stated in their offer letter.

If you have a different kind of visa which permits study in the UK, such as Dependant or BNO, the ATAS requirement will be stated in your offer letter. You will not be asked for the ATAS certificate as part of your visa application, but you will need it to register on your course.

Staff

Staff researchers will be notified of any ATAS requirement via Human Resources. You will need to obtain an ATAS certificate before you can apply for your Skilled Worker or Government Authorised Exchange (formerly Tier 5) visa. 
If you have a different kind of visa which permits work or academic research in the UK, such as Dependant, Academic Visitor or BNO, you will not be asked for the ATAS certificate as part of your visa application, but you will need it before starting your academic work.

ATAS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We recommend reading the below frequently asked questions and answers on the ATAS application process. If your question has not been answered, please contact the Visa and Immigration Team

Which nationalities are exempt from ATAS?
Students and researchers who are nationals of EU countries, the European Economic Area (EEA), Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea (Republic of Korea), Switzerland or the United States of America do not need an ATAS certificate.
 
How do I apply for an ATAS certificate?

You need to apply online for an ATAS certificate

You are strongly encouraged to firstly read the government guidance.

 
What information will I need to provide?

All applicants (students and staff) will be asked for:

  • biographical information
  • CAH3 code, provided to you by the University
  • information on your previous studies
  • information on your previous and current employment (if applicable)
  • all published papers (if applicable)
  • full names and contact details of 2 referees
  • information on any financial sponsorship (scholarship or funding) that you have

Students will also be asked for:

  • details of your conditional offer from the University
  • Undergraduate and postgraduate taught students:
    • a statement about your course, including possible modules that you will study. This will be provided to you by the University, along with your CAH3 code, once you hold an offer. You should use the exact text provided.
    • ‘supervisor name’ – this is your Head of Department. See the FAQ below for your Head of Department name, under the FAQ ‘What is the name of my ‘supervisor’ for ATAS purposes?
  • Postgraduate research students (MRes, PhD, etc):
    • the research statement agreed with your supervisor, a copy of which will be provided to you by the University, along with your CAH3 code, once you hold an offer. You should use the exact text provided.
    • ‘supervisor name’ – this is your main academic supervisor.  If you aren’t sure of their name, you can put your Head of School or Department instead. See the FAQ below for your Head of School or Department name, under the FAQ ‘What is the name of my ‘supervisor’ for ATAS purposes?

Staff researchers will also be asked for:

  • a statement about your research area, provided to you by Human Resources
  • your supervisor name (line manager)

More guidance on some of these requirements, such as referees and financial sponsorship, can be found on the ATAS website. 

 
What email address should I use in my ATAS application?
Any personal email address, although the FCDO recommend the use of Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail or similar commercial email providers, and they have reported that applicants using email servers 126.com, 163.com, sina.cn and qq.com may have difficulty receiving emails from them. 
 
When should I apply?

An ATAS certificate is valid for six months only and if it is not used in a visa application within this time, new clearance must be obtained before you make your visa application. You should take care not to apply too early. 

You should also be mindful to allow plenty of time for the ATAS application to be processed, see below for guidance.

 
How long will it take to receive an ATAS certificate after I have applied?

It will take at least 20 working days (4 weeks) to process a student ATAS application, however this can increase to 30 working days (6 weeks) or more during the peak time between April and September.

It will take at least 10 working days (2 weeks) to process a researcher ATAS application, however this can increase to 15 working days (3 weeks) or more during the peak time between April and September.

Applications are processed in order of receipt and the FCDO does not offer any fast track service. 

 
How long are ATAS certificates valid for?

An ATAS certificate is valid for six months only for visa application purposes. You will need to apply for a fresh ATAS certificate in the future in certain circumstances:

  • if you need to make a new visa application
  • if the end date of your course/research is extended by more than 3 months
  • if you transfer to a different course which also requires ATAS clearance (students)
  • if the nature of your research changes (postgraduate research students and research staff)
 
What happens once an ATAS certificate has been granted?
The FCDO will provide you with an ATAS certificate to you by email. You should provide it with your visa application if required (e.g. Student route, Skilled Worker).

The University will also receive a copy and it will be checked against our records. If the details on the certificate do not match those held by the University, we will not be able to accept it and you will be advised to apply again, and you should hold off applying for your visa until you have a correct certificate.

If the certificate contains a minor mistake or inaccuracy, you can try to get this amended by emailing the ATAS unit at ATAS@fcdo.gov.uk. 
 
What if my application is refused? 
ATAS refusals are rare. If you receive one, please contact the Visa and Immigration team for advice. 
 
I am a PhD student, should I select ‘Taught / research student’ or ‘Researcher’?
PhD students should select ‘Taught / research student’. 
 
I will obtain a Visit visa on arrival at the UK border, when should I apply for ATAS?
If you are coming to the UK for less than 6 months and can obtain a visa at the border due to your nationality (non-visa national), you will need to have an ATAS certificate at the point you will register with the University (if you are a student) or start your any period of research as a staff member or Academic Visitor. You should therefore apply in plenty of time to receive the certificate before you travel. 
 
What is the name of my ‘supervisor’ for ATAS purposes?

Postgraduate Research students will need to provide their supervisor name. You should provide your main/lead supervisor name, if you know it. If you don’t, you can put your Head of Department name (see below).

Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught students will need to provide their Head of Department name (see below).

Heads of School/Department
MSc degree  Lead School/Department Head of Department
MSc Advanced Materials Mechanical, Materials & Manufacturing Engineering Professor Ian Ashcroft
MSc Chemical Engineering Chemical & Environmental Engineering Professor Chris Dodds
MSc Environmental Engineering Chemical & Environmental Engineering Professor Chris Dodds
MSc Gravity, Particles and Fields Mathematical Sciences Professor Paul Houston
MSc Sustainable Energy Engineering Chemical & Environmental Engineering Professor Chris Dodds
MSc Human Factors and Ergonomics Mechanical, Materials & Manufacturing Engineering Professor Ian Ashcroft
MSc Mechanical Engineering Mechanical, Materials & Manufacturing Engineering Professor Ian Ashcroft
Undergraduate degree (MSci/MEng) Lead School/Department Head of Department
Aerospace Engineering Mechanical, Materials & Manufacturing Engineering Professor Ian Ashcroft
Chemical and Environmental Engineering Chemical & Environmental Engineering Professor Chris Dodds
Mechanical Engineering Mechanical, Materials & Manufacturing Engineering Professor Ian Ashcroft
Physics Physics and Astronomy Professor Mark Fromhold
 

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