An Academic Technology Approval Scheme (known as ATAS), is a certificate issued by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) which gives you security clearance to study certain subject areas in the UK.
These subject areas relate to where the knowledge gained may have an application in the development or delivery of weapons of mass destruction, for example, certain science subjects such as mathematics, engineering, technology or medicine.
An ATAS certificate will be required as part of your visa application if you intend to study one of these subjects. You might also need a new ATAS certificate if your circumstances change once you have started your course, for example, if your course duration is extended for more than 3 months, or, if the area of your research change during the course.
ATAS is not limited to just the Student visa route. You would also need ATAS if you are going to study your course using other time-limited visa such as Dependant visa, Skilled Worker visa and Standard Visitor visa. In these cases, you do not necessarily need the ATAS certificate to apply for the visa, but you will need the ATAS certificate to study on the course.
You do not require an ATAS if you are:
- A UK national
- An EU national
- A Swiss national
- A national of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, or the USA
An ATAS clearance certificate is valid for up to six months. After six months, it can no longer be used in an immigration application.
Student route applicants can apply for entry clearance up to six months and permission to stay up to three months before the course start date, so the earliest a student can apply for ATAS clearance depends on where they apply for Student permission, but is well in advance of the date on which their course starts.
You can see if you need an ATAS certificate by checking the following:
- Your offer letter from DMU will state if your programme requires an ATAS certificate.
- If you are applying for a Student visa, your CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) statement will also state if you are required to obtain an ATAS certificate.
If you have already started your course and are changing to a different course that requires ATAS, or, if you have been given a period of extension which extends your course end date by more than 3 months, you will need to apply for a new ATAS certificate.
You may need to apply for a new ATAS if you have started your course but the course content or research proposal has since changed. If you are unsure, it is best to obtain a new ATAS certificate.
Do I need an ATAS certificate?
You can check whether your course requires an ATAS certificate at the following webpage.
How do I apply for an ATAS?
ATAS applications are submitted online and are free of charge.
You can apply for an ATAS certificate as soon as you have received a conditional or unconditional offer from DMU. As the application may take 20 - 30 working days to be processed, you are advised to apply in good time when you receive your offer for your course. It is recommended that you apply 4 - 6 months before your course start date where possible.
You will receive an email from the FCDO to confirm if your application has been approved or refused.
What information will I need to complete the online ATAS application?
To apply online you need:
- information about your programme of study/research including the relevant CAH3 code, provided by DMU
- your conditional offer letter from DMU
You will also need to provide information on:
- previous studies
- previous and current employment (if applicable)
- all published papers
- optional modules you might take in a taught Masters (if unsure please include all possible modules)
- your area of research and a description (for research degrees and researchers)
- full names and contact details of 2 referees
- how you will be sponsored whilst in the UK
Follow the advice closely to ensure there are no delays to your application:
- provide the full names of your referees, employers and sponsors (provide a first name and last name and do not provide initials instead of first names)
- provide details for 2 referees you have ideally known for over 3 years, one of whom should be an academic referee
- if you have not been employed, indicate ‘not applicable / never employed’
- ensure the details of the passport you will use to enter the UK are provided in full and are accurate
- provide (where applicable) research statements as specifically agreed with your Doctoral College/Supervisor and an adequate personal statement
- if you are extending your research, ensure your application features the new length of your visit/employment. You should include the date you submit your ATAS extension application as the start date
- ensure there are no long gaps in your employment / education history. If you were unemployed or, for example, a full-time parent, you should indicate this on the form
- ensure you enter the correct CAH3 code for your course or research area before you submit your application as you will have to re-apply if you do not include this information
- information you provide when you apply is printed on the certificate. When you have completed your application, please read through your entries carefully before you submit it
The ATAS certificate must be issued before you apply for immigration permission, and you must provide a printout of the ATAS certificate with the application.
How long applications take
It will take at least 20 working days (4 full weeks) to process a student ATAS application. Processing times will increase between April and September and can take 30 or more working days to complete.
It will take at least 10 working days (2 full weeks) to process a researcher ATAS application. Processing times will increase between April and September and can take 15 or more working days to complete.
To ensure fairness and consistency, applications are processed in order of receipt, there is no ‘fast track’ service. You should submit your ATAS application as early as possible.
Contacting the ATAS team
You can email the ATAS Team at ATAS@fcdo.gov.uk if you have a query about your application. They will not reply to any query on an application that is not at least 20 working days old.
The ATAS team usually works from Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, and they aim to respond to your email within 5 working days.
See up-to-date information on the ATAS application process.