Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)
The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) requires all international students (apart from exempt nationalities) who are subject to UK immigration control and are intending to study or research at postgraduate level in certain sensitive subjects to apply for obtain an ATAS certificate. The subjects and research areas are those where knowledge could be used in programmes to develop Advanced Conventional Military Technology (ACMT), weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) or their means of delivery. Students in these sensitive subjects must apply for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate before they can study or start research in the UK.
There are certain nationailities that are exempt from the ATAS requirement. 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. The ATAS requirement is usually confirmed in your offer letter if you are a postgraduate taught or postgraduate research student. Students on 4-year integrated bachelors and masters programmes (e.g. MEng or MSci) will receive email communications from the University if they are required to obtain ATAS.
If you are subject to ATAS requirement, a valid ATAS certificate is required before you can receive your CAS. This applies both to students starting new courses and continuing students extending their visas. The University will receive a copy of your ATAS certificate at the same time as you receive it, so you should not need to do anything to notify us.
Who is required to have an ATAS certificate
- If you are applying for a Student 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 coming to the UK as a visiting student on a Visit visa, you will need to have an ATAS clearance certificate to show on arrival at the University
- If you are applying to come to the UK on a non-Student visa* (e.g. Student visa dependant, Skilled Worker dependant, Skilled Worker), you will need to have a valid 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 unsure if your visa requires you to obtain an ATAS clearance certificate, please contact Student Visas.
Who is not required to have an ATAS certificate
- If you have 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 these webpages
*If you are unsure if your visa requires you to obtain an ATAS clearance certificate, please contact Student Visas.
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 for study (even if it was not required for the visa application), you will not be permitted to register at the University without showing a valid ATAS clearance certificate.
Course changes and ATAS certificates
If you currently have an ATAS for your studies and want to change to another area of research or programme requiring an ATAS, you need to:
- Check with a Student Visa Adviser if you require a new visa for the new course
- Apply for a new ATAS certificate - please ask the Faculty Office or a Student Visa Adviser what the new CAH3 code is.
- Wait until you have received it before you register on/transfer to your new programme or start the new area of research - you should not start it until appropriate ATAS clearance has been received
If you are currently on a programme that does not need ATAS but you need to switch to a programme that requires ATAS clearance (e.g. if you are switching from BEng to MEng or BSc to MSci), you must also follow the steps above.
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 that the description matches your offer letter if you are a research student, or course content from module catalogue if you are a taught student
- if the details such a course name and personal details are correct
- contact the ATAS unit at ATAS@fcdo.gov.uk if there are mistakes or inaccuracies
- once you are satisfied that all is correct, include the certificate in your Student visa application documents. ATAS certificates are only valid for Student visa application purposes for 6 months (the expiry date is listed on the 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 Student visa to study in the UK. Applications for visas to study on other courses that do not require ATAS clearance will be considered without an ATAS certificate. Continuing students who are extending studies and who have been refused fresh ATAS clearance will not be able to study the course from the UK; they should discuss their academic options with their supervisor and the Faculty Office.
If you think your application has been treated unfairly you can ask the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to review your case, but in our experience the review application success rate is low. It is not recommended to submit several consecutive ATAS applications for the same programme.
How can I contact the ATAS team at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office?
You can email email@example.com 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 may reply to you but this is likely to take some time, especially over the summer, due to the volume of enquiries received.
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.
- For guidance on completing your application, 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
- As a student of University of Bristol, when applying for ATAS, you need to select ATAS option for "Taught / research student" and not the option for "Researcher" as "Researcher" ATAS is intended for academic researchers and not students
- Once you have received a conditional or unconditional offer, complete and submit an ATAS form online, following the guidance provided on communications from the University (please see below)
- 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 Admissions team will inform you by email of the 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 who is extending, upgrading as part of an integrated masters 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 government 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. Please use the date you submit your ATAS application as the course start date when asked 'when will your course start'
- The University's Student visa sponsor licence number is WE3JP69N1
- The current processing times are listed on the government's ATAS webpage, but please note that in some cases applications have been known to take considerably longer, especially during the peak periods of June-September. You must therefore allow sufficient time to obtain ATAS clearance. Once the application is decided, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office will confirm whether you have been cleared or refused