Academic Technology Approval Scheme

You will need to apply for an ATAS clearance certificate if you:

  • are not an EU/EEA national, and
  • you have limited leave to remain in the UK eg. as a dependant, as a short term student, as a Tier 1, 2, 4 or 5 visa holder, or you are an asylum seeker or refugee, and
  • you are studying certain science and technology subjects at a postgraduate level (including most integrated Masters courses such as MEng, MPhys, MSci).

If you have indefinite leave to remain in the UK or you are the family member of an EEA national you do not require ATAS clearance.

The scheme is managed by the ATAS Team based at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Whether or not you need ATAS will depend on the classification of your academic subject within the UK Higher Education system – this is known as a CAH3 code.  Your offer letter for your programme will tell you if your programme requires an ATAS certificate.

If you are changing course from a course that does not require ATAS clearance to one that does, you will need to obtain an ATAS clearance certificate before you can start your new course or research.

If you are a visiting student on a taught course or research programme that requires ATAS clearance then you must obtain ATAS clearance before you start your programme. This requirement applies regardless of the duration of your visiting student status.

Please not that the UK system for classifying academic subjects changed on 01 January 2019.  If you have only been provided with a JACS code, this refers to the previous system, and you should contact you School to obtain the new CAH3 code for your programme.

It is your responsibility to check if you require ATAS clearance.

CAH3 codes: programmes requiring ATAS

If you will be applying for a Tier 4 visa you must obtain an ATAS certificate before you apply for your visa (an ATAS application is free of charge).

You should submit an online ATAS application as soon as possible after receiving an offer from your School. You do not need to wait until your offer is unconditional to apply to ATAS. You must list all your course modules or a summary of your research in the application – you can obtain this information from your School.

Please note that late applications will result in a delay in obtaining your visa. If you do not obtain an ATAS certificate before you submit your Tier 4 visa application, your application will be refused.

If you already have a visa that permits study, you are still required to obtain ATAS clearance before starting your studies or research. 

For information about ATAS, to check the list of courses and to access the online application form, go to the FCO website.

The ATAS team aims to process applications within 20 working days of the submission of a completed application. During busier periods the process can take longer than this, so please make sure you submit your ATAS application in good time.

ATAS refusals are very rare. If your application for ATAS clearance is refused please contact us immediately so we can advise you further. 

If you require an ATAS clearance to study your intended course then you are not permitted to start studying that course until you have obtained your ATAS certificate. 

If you require a Tier 4 visa you will need the ATAS certificate before making your visa application. For visa purposes the ATAS certificate is valid for 6 months from the date of issue by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. You can apply for an ATAS certificate up to 6 months in advance of your course start date. We strongly recommend that students apply for your ATAS certificate as soon as possible.

If you intend to change your course or change the scope or direction of your research, then you should not register on the new course or start the new area of research until a new ATAS certificate has been applied for and has been successful. if you are switching from a course which does not require ATAS clearance to one that does (e.g. switching from BEng to MEng), you must obtain an ATAS certificate before you transfer to the new course. You should contact your programme administrator for a list of course modules for the MEng or to obtain a summary of your research if you are studying a PhD.

A new ATAS certificate is required if you extend your course by more than 3 calendar months. If you are on a Tier 4 visa this is taken from the course end date as stated on your previous CAS.

You must apply for a new ATAS certificate within 28 days of the course extension being applied to your record and you must provide your School with evidence that your ATAS application has been made. If you don't provide evidence of having made a new ATAS application within this 28-day period you will not be permitted to continue studying and you must interrupt your studies until you can provide a new ATAS certificate in full.

ATAS clearance is specific to the programme and institution so if you have changed course or university you will need to apply for ATAS again.

Similarly, if you declared an incorrect CAH code in your application you will need to apply for ATAS again.

If more than six months has elapsed between the date of issue by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the start of the course, you will need to make a fresh application for clearance.