Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) requires international students subject to UK immigration control, who are applying to study for a postgraduate qualification in certain sensitive subjects, knowledge of which could be used in programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) or their means of delivery, to apply for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate before they can study in the UK. ATAS is granted by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). There are certain nationailities that are exempt from the ATAS requirement. On 5th October 2020, the list of exempt nationalities was extended - please see Find out if you need an ATAS certificate - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) for up-to-date information. 

Your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) will indicate whether or not you require ATAS clearance. Your Faculty/School will also let you know prior to, or at the point of making an offer whether you need ATAS clearance.

Who is required to apply for ATAS:

  • If you are applying for a Student visa or a Short-term study visa to study in the UK on a course requiring ATAS, you will need to have an ATAS clearance certificate before you can make your visa application and in order to register on your course on arrival at the University
  • If you are a non-EEA national applying to come to the UK on a non-Student visa* (e.g. Student visa dependant, Tier 2 dependant, Tier 2), you will need to have an ATAS clearance certificate to show on arrival at the University. You will not require it as part of your visa application to come to the UK
  • If you are a non-EEA national already in the UK, you will require an ATAS clearance certificate if your visa application was decided on or after 6th April 2015 and you do not hold settled status*.

Who is not required to apply for ATAS:

  • If you are a non-EEA national with settled status* in the UK (e.g. indefinite leave to remain), you do not need an ATAS clearance certificate
  • If you are a UK national
  • If you are a national of one of the countries listed in the UKVI’s Find out if you need an ATAS certificate - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). If you are one of the listed nationals you will not be required to apply for ATAS.  Only those not listed need to read the information on this webpages 

*If you are unsure if your visa requires you to obtain an ATAS clearance certificate, please contact Student Visa Services.

Please be advised that it is your responsibility to obtain an ATAS clearance certificate if it is required. If you hold immigration permission that requires ATAS, you will not be permitted to register at the University without showing a valid ATAS clearance certificate.

If you wish to study at another University/Higher Education Institution, change your course/area of research or extend your course by more than three months, you will need to apply for another (new) ATAS certificate.

To apply

  • Once you have received a conditional or unconditional offer, complete and submit an ATAS form online, following the guidance provided on your offer letter (programme name and description, start and end date, CAH3 code). For additional information on completing your application, please use this link
  • You will require a CAH3 code which is a code that is specific to your course of study
    • If you are a new undergraduate student, the Undergraduate Admissions team will inform you of the specific CAH3 code for your course and you can use University's Unit and Programme Catalogues to obtain description of your course
    • If you are a new postgraduate student (both taught and research), your offer letter will tell you the specific CAH3 code for your course and the research statement you can use in your application.
    • If you are a continuing student (extending your course, upgrading your course or transfering to a course requiring ATAS), your Faculty Office will be able to look up the specific CAH3 code for your course on the University system. See the this page for the list of academic subjects that need an ATAS certificate – please still contact your Faculty Office for the exact code for your course. You will also be asked to provide a description of your course. If you are on an undergraduate or postgraduate taught course, you can use University's Unit and Programme Catalogues to obtain this information. If you are a research student, please obtain an updated ATAS statement from your supervisor.
  • Application is free and will ask for details of your previous studies/employment and your proposed research/taught modules.
  • If you are asked for the University's Student visa sponsor licence number, it is WE3JP69N1. 
  • ATAS applications take around 20 working days to process, after which the Foreign & Commonwealth Office will confirm whether you have been cleared or refused. Please be aware your application may take longer during the peak periods of June-September, please allow 4-6 weeks for your ATAS to arrive during this time.
  • ATAS certificates are valid for six months.
  • You will need a new ATAS certificate prior to registering on a new programme, or if you change programmes, or if you wish to extend leave to remain as a student.
  • If you switch to a programme that requires ATAS clearance, you must obtain a certificate before you can transfer (eg if you are switching to an undergraduate course that leads to a postgraduate exit qualification covered by ATAS).
  • If your area of research or programme requires an ATAS certificate, and is likely to change to another which also requires an ATAS certificate, then you should wait until you have applied for and received your new ATAS certificate before you register on the new course or start the new area of research.

If you currently have an ATAS for your studies, and want to change to another area of research or programme requiring an ATAS:

  • Apply for a new ATAS certificate
  • Wait until you have received it before you register on your new programme or start the new area of research
  • Check with a visa adviser if you require a new visa for the new course

I've received my ATAS Certificate - What do I need to do now?

If your ATAS application is successful, you will receive a certificate by email. You should check your junk folders regularly to ensure the email has not been filtered out. When you receive your certificate, you should:

  • check the details on it are correct and match your offer/research documentation from your HEI or research institute
  • if the details are correct, print the certificate and include it in your visa application documentation
  • contact the ATAS unit at ATAS@fcdo.gov.uk if there are mistakes or inaccuracies

Guidance on how to apply for ATAS

As a student of University of Bristol, when applying for ATAS, you need to select ATAS option for "Taught / research student" and not the ATAS option for "Researcher" as "Researcher" ATAS is intended for academic researchers and not students. 

See the information provided by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office about What you need to apply and Guidance on how to apply for an ATAS certificate

What can you do if your ATAS application is refused?

If your course requires ATAS clearance, without an ATAS certificate you will not be granted a visa to study in the UK. Applications for visas to study on other courses that do not require ATAS clearance will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

If you think your application has been treated unfairly you can ask the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to review your case.

How can I contact the ATAS team at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office?

 You should email atas@fco.gov.uk if you have a question about your application.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will not reply to any query on an application that is not at least 20 working days old. If your application is more than 20 days old they will try to reply to you within five working days. However please be aware that delays are possible over the summer due to the volume of enquiries received.

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