Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)
From 21 May 2021, the Home Office expanded the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS), a scheme administered by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to include certain sponsored roles and visitor visa routes with an element of research at PhD level undertaking work in some sensitive fields that could possibly result in the transfer of information, knowledge or technology to military programmes of concern.
Who needs an ATAS certificate?
The ATAS ‘requirement’ applies to certain sponsored worker routes, including Skilled Worker and Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange (T5). An ATAS certificate must be applied for and granted before an individual applies for a visa for leave to enter the UK or further leave to remain in the UK.
The ATAS ‘condition’ applies to the standard visitor visa route. An ATAS certificate must be applied for and granted before an individual can start any research activity in the UK. The ATAS certificate is not required for applying for a standard visitor visa but it is strongly recommended that the certificate is granted before travelling to the UK.
An ATAS certificate is required if;
o The role is in a relevant occupation code
o The role includes an element of research at PhD level in a relevant subject area
o The individual is not an exempt national or individuals in non-sponsored visa categories (except the standard visitor visa route)
An ATAS certificate is required for new members of staff applying for leave to enter the UK or further leave to remain in the UK and current staff extending their visa. Changes to an individual’s field of research / research project, change of job title or duration of contract will require a new ATAS certificate.
A final employment contract or extension to contract is not required before applying for an ATAS certificate.
If an ATAS certificate is required, Human Resources will notify the individual.
2111 Chemical scientists
2112 Biological scientists and biochemists
2113 Physical scientists
2114 Social and humanities scientists
2119 Natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified
2150 Research and development managers
2122 Mechanical engineers
2123 Electrical engineers
2124 Electronics engineers
2127 Production and process engineers
2129 Engineering professionals not elsewhere classified
2311 Higher education teaching professionals;
3111 Laboratory technicians
3112 Electrical and electronics technicians
3113 Engineering technicians
3114 Building and civil engineering technicians
5235 Aircraft maintenance and related trades
Subjects allied to Medicine:
CAH02-02-01 - Pharmacology
CAH02-02-02 - Toxicology
CAH02-02-03 - Pharmacy
CAH10-01-06 - Bioengineering, Medical and Biomedical Engineering
CAH02-05-03 - Others in subjects allied to Medicine
CAH03-01-02 - Biology (non-specific)
CAH03-01-03 - Ecology and Environmental Biology
CAH03-01-06 - Zoology
CAH03-01-04 - Microbiology and Cell Science
CAH03-01-05 - Plant Sciences
CAH10-03-05 - Biotechnology
CAH03-01-07 - Genetics
CAH02-05-03 - Biomedical Sciences (non-specific)
CAH03-01-08 - Molecular Biology, Biophysics and Biochemistry
CAH03-01-01 - Biosciences (non-specific)
CAH03-01-10 - Others in Biological Sciences
Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects:
CAH05-01-02 - Others in Veterinary Sciences
CAH06-01-02 - Agricultural sciences
CAH07-02-01 - Chemistry
CAH10-03-07 - Materials Science
CAH07-01-01 - Physics
CAH07-01-02 - Astronomy
CAH26-01-05 - Others in Geographical Studies
CAH07-04-01 - Physical Sciences (non-specific)
CAH07-04-03 - Sciences (non-specific)
CAH07-04-04 - Natural Sciences (non-specific)
Mathematical and Computer Sciences:
CAH09-01-01 - Mathematics
CAH09-01-02 - Operational Research
CAH11-01-01 - Computer Science
CAH11-01-02 - Information Technology
CAH11-01-03 - Information Systems
CAH11-01-04 - Software Engineering
CAH11-01-05 - Artificial Intelligence
CAH10-01-01 - Engineering (non-specific)
CAH10-01-07 - Civil Engineering
CAH10-01-02 - Mechanical Engineering
CAH10-01-04 - Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering
CAH10-01-05 - Naval Architecture
CAH10-01-08 - Electrical and Electronic Engineering
CAH10-01-09 - Chemical, Process and Energy Engineering
CAH10-03-03 - Polymers and Textiles
CAH10-03-01 - Minerals Technology
CAH10-03-02 - Materials Technology
CAH10-03-04 - Maritime Technology
Republic of Cyprus
Republic of Korea
United States of America
How to apply for an ATAS certificate
Guidance on how an individual can apply for an ATAS certificate is available at the following link;
Please note, it takes at least 10 working days for the FCDO to process an ATAS certificate application and processing times increase between April and September to 15 or more working days.
Important information for Recruiting Managers / Administrators
It is our responsibility as a sponsor to check whether an individual is subject to the ATAS ‘requirement’ or ‘condition’ and ensure the individual obtains an ATAS certificate. Failure to meet these responsibilities is likely to result in the individual’s visa application being refused or unable to start their academic visit, with the possibility of the University’s sponsor licence being revoked. Whereby an individual is being sponsored, our internal procedure is to have confirmation that the individual has obtained an ATAS certificate before assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship.
If your Human Resources contact is unsure whether the research topic fits in one of the categories listed then they may get in contact with you for further clarity.
The Home Office recommend an individual applies for their ATAS certificate at least 4 months before their current permission in the UK expires. Therefore, we will need to be mindful of the timescales for an individual obtaining an ATAS certificate, ensuring that any extensions to fixed-term contracts are produced allowing enough time for an individual to apply and receive their ATAS certificate ahead of applying for their visa.