ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme)
ATAS is a certificate issued by the (FCO) Foreign and Commonwealth Office which gives you security clearance to study certain subject areas in the UK. These subject areas relate to where the knowledge gained may have application in the development or delivery of weapons of mass destruction (for example, certain science subjects, mathematics, engineering, technology or medicine).
An ATAS certificate will be required as part of your visa application if you intend to study in the UK on a course for 6 months or more that is ATAS attracting. This is not limited to the Tier 4 visa category but is a requirement of any person holding any visa with limited leave in the UK.
Who does not require an ATAS?
You do not require an ATAS if you are:
- A national of the United Kingdom
A national of the (EEA) European Economic Area
A national of Switzerland
Do I need an ATAS?
You can see if you need an ATAS certificate by checking the following:
- Your offer letter from University of Warwick will state if your programme requires an ATAS certificate.
If you are applying for a Tier 4 visa your CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) statement will also state if you are required to obtain an ATAS certificate.
How do I apply for an ATAS?
Applications for an ATAS 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 the University of Warwick. You are advised to apply as soon as you receive your offer for your course as the application may take up to 20 working days to be processed, although applications can take much longer than this. You will receive an email from the FCO to confirm if your application has been approved or refused.
What information will I need to complete the online ATAS application?
It is recommended you have the following information before you start your online application:
- Your conditional offer letter from the University of Warwick and
Information about your programme of study/research including the relevant JACS code, this information will have been provided to you and vary depending on the course you are following:
I am a Research student
When you apply for ATAS clearance, you will be asked to give a statement of six or seven lines to describe broadly your planned area of research. If you are a prospective postgraduate research student, once you receive an offer, the Postgraduate Admissions team will provide you with an email giving a brief description of the research that you will carry out. You simply need to copy the statement exactly as it appears in your email from Postgraduate Admissions into the ATAS form. If you have not received the appropriate documentation for your ATAS application, please contact the Postgraduate Admissions team.
I am a PhD student
If you are a current PhD student and will require an ATAS certificate to apply for visa extension, you will need to obtain a statement from the Graduate School. Please email email@example.com and clearly states that you are a current student, that you require an ATAS statement for visa application and include your name, Warwick I.D. number and the course you are currently enrolled on in the email. You will receive an official statement from the Graduate School along with the JACS code in a few days' time, and you should use that statement for your ATAS application.
I am a Master’s student
If you are taking a taught master’s course, you will be asked to give a list of the modules that you are likely to take and any project/dissertation work to be completed. Again, this information will be sent after an offer is made and you simply need to copy the list exactly as it appears in the email. Please do not attempt to compile the list of modules by yourself as both core and optional/elective modules must be listed and a partial list will invalidate your ATAS certificate.
I am an undergraduate student
If you are an undergraduate student taking a course that will lead to a postgraduate exit qualification, the Undergraduate Admissions team should provide you with information about the modules you will take. This information will need to be provided on your application. If you have not received the appropriate documentation for your ATAS application please contact the Undergraduate Admissions team.
It is important you complete your application accurately and do not make any errors whilst you are completing your application form as this may delay a decision being served by the FCO.
How long is an ATAS certificate valid for?
You must use your ATAS certificate within 6 months of the date it is issued. If you do not, you will need to apply for a new one. Once you have used the certificate with a visa application, your ATAS certificate will remain valid for the length of the course that it was issued from the course start date to the course end date given on the CAS, plus up to an additional 3 calendar months of study. The certificate remains valid as long as your programme of study, provided that your subject area does not change and the course end date is not postponed for a period of more than 3 calendar months. You must apply for new a ATAS Clearance Certificate within 28 calendar days of being notified of the changes in course regardless of when your visa expires.
If you lose your ATAS certificate, you should email the ATAS team.
What if I change my area of research or course?
If your area of research or course is likely to change to one still affected by the requirement to have an ATAS certificate, 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 issued.
If you were previously studying on a course which did not require ATAS clearance but you now wish to switch to one which does (e.g. switching to an undergraduate course which leads to a postgraduate exit qualification covered by ATAS), you must obtain an ATAS certificate before you can transfer to that new course. If you are required to apply for a Tier 4 visa to complete the course, you will need to submit the ATAS certificate with your Tier 4 visa application.
Will I need an ATAS certificate to extend my visa?
If you apply to extend your student visa in the UK to complete a course that is subject to ATAS clearance, you will need to apply for and receive a ATAS clearance certificate before submitting your Tier 4 visa application. If you do not already have an ATAS certificate for this course, you will need to apply for one.
Remember it may take up to 20 working days for ATAS certificates to be processed, although applications can take much longer than this
Our website provides details on the process of applying for a Tier 4 student visa.
Do I have to provide the University with a copy of my ATAS certificate?
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will automatically send the University a copy of your ATAS certificate and you are therefore not required to provide a copy to the University yourself.
I have obtained my ATAS but now have a new passport?
If you obtain a new passport after having receiving the 'ATAS certificate' with the previous passport number on. Where there is time, you are advised to contact ATAS by email with a scanned copy of your new passport and ask for a new ATAS certificate to be issued with the new passport number on. If there isn't enough time, you are advised to submit the visa application with both passports.
Where can I find more information?
There is a lot of information and guidance available on the ATAS website, including frequently asked questions and information on what to do if your ATAS application is delayed or refused.