Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

The ATAS is a certificate that may be needed in order to apply for a Student visa and study certain subjects in the UK.

What is the ATAS?

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) applies to all students and researchers who hold time limited visas (apart from exempt nationalities) and are intending to study or research at Postgraduate level in certain sensitive subjects.

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. Researchers and 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. Full information can be found on the government ATAS pages.

As a result of recent changes to the immigration rules, there is a requirement for students studying courses with a relevant CAH3 code to obtain ATAS clearance regardless of the length of course. ATAS clearance is also required for those coming to the UK under a Standard Visitor visa.

Do I need an ATAS certificate?

You can find out if you need an ATAS on the government website.  

If you are not exempt, you must apply if you are undertaking a Postgraduate course or research in certain sensitive subjects in the UK. If you are applying to study an undergraduate course with an integrated Masters year you may also need ATAS clearance.

CAH3 code

To check if you need an ATAS certificate you will need to know the CAH3 (Common Aggregation Hierarchy) code that applies to your course or research.

New students should receive a code in their offer letter under the Conditions of Offer section, whilst continuing students should email the Student Immigration Compliance Team.

If you are not yet in the UK

If you’re a new student and need an ATAS certificate, you will need to get this before applying for permission to enter the UK.

An ATAS certificate is valid for six months from the date it is issued, to enable applicants time to apply for their visa.

You should apply for your ATAS certificate as early as possible from when you have received a conditional offer to study at the University of Kent.

You will need to ensure that your ATAS certificate will not expire before you apply for your UK visa.

If you are in the UK with a Student or Tier 4 visa

If you’re already in the UK on a student visa, you will need an ATAS certificate for the University of Kent and the course of study, including modules or proposed research. If any of these details change, you should check whether you need a new ATAS certificate and apply for a new one as appropriate.

If your completion date changes by more than three months, you may have to make a new ATAS application. You should make a note of when your permission to enter into the UK is due to expire, to allow sufficient time to complete your ATAS and permission to stay applications before your current permission expires.

How do I apply for an ATAS certificate?

Please visit the Government's website for full guidance on how to apply for an ATAS certificate.

Once you have collected all of the information that you need, use the UK government's online application form.

How long will it take for the ATAS to be issued?

To ensure fairness and consistency, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) processes applications in order of receipt. There is no ‘fast track’ service so you should submit your ATAS application as early as possible.  

It will take at least 20 working days (four complete weeks) for your ATAS application to be processed by the FCDO. Processing times will increase between the months of April and September and can take 30 or more working days to complete.

How long is my ATAS certificate valid for?

ATAS certificates are valid for six months. You must have a valid ATAS certificate when you apply for your Student visa, or on the course start date if you intend to study on a different visa type.  

Do I need an ATAS certificate to get a CAS number?

The two are not linked and you can apply for ATAS without the CAS number having been issued by Kent.

Taught courses - applicants only

We are not able to issue a CAS number until you have received your ATAS certificate. However, you can prepare your CAS application whilst you are waiting for the ATAS to be granted.

Research courses - applicants only

We are not able to issue a CAS number until you have received your ATAS certificate.  

Current students

You must have and show proof of an ATAS certificate during your CAS assessment.

What should I do if I am refused an ATAS certificate?

We will be notified of the refusal by the FCDO. If you think your application has been treated unfairly, you can ask the ATAS team for a review.

Further information

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