Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)
What is ATAS?
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). Whether your course requires ATAS, depends on the so called JACS code that applies to your course.
If your course requires ATAS clearance, the ATAS certificate is a required document for your Tier 4 visa application. If you have a different visa category, e.g. dependent, you will not need ATAS clearance to apply for your visa but you will need it in order to register on your course. Students registered on courses which require ATAS clearance might need an up to date certificate for some change of status requests.
Do I need ATAS?
The requirement for an ATAS certificate applies to all students whose nationality is outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, irrespective of country of residence at the point of application.
You can see on your offer letter from the University of Sheffield if your programme requires an ATAS certificate. The letter will also include either a paragraph describing your research or the module list that you will need to apply and the JACS code.
If you have a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies), it will also state if you are required to obtain an ATAS certificate.
If you want to check which courses require ATAS before you receive an offer, visit the ATAS website.
How do I apply for ATAS and how long does it take?
When you complete the ATAS application, you need to complete the section "proposed course of study". MPhil/PhD students use the paragraph describing your research that was provided on your offer acceptance letter. If your research topic has changed, please ask your supervisor for a letter with an updated summary of your research topic.
UG/PGT students please list the core and elective modules of your programme. If you don't have this information, please contact your academic department.
Visit the ATAS website for details on how to apply and how long it takes to apply. There is currently no charge for an ATAS application.
If you need ATAS to apply for a Tier 4 visa
If your course requires ATAS, the ATAS clearance certificate is a mandatory document for a you have to submit with your visa application, whether it is your first visa application or a visa extension.
Continuing Students extending their visa: If your existing ATAS certificate was issued more than 6 months before the date on which you will submit your Tier 4 extension application you will need to apply for new ATAS clearance. An ATAS certificate is valid for 6 months from the date of issue for the purpose of applying for a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa.
Continuing Postgraduate Research Students extending their visa: If you have not yet had your viva, your ATAS clearance needs to cover your viva date.
If you apply to extend your Tier 4 visa, your new CAS will confirm a course end date that is your thesis submission date + 10 weeks. If your new CAS has been issued before you submit your ATAS application, you should use this date as the course end date on your ATAS application.
If you are applying for your ATAS clearance before your new CAS is issued (or if you are applying for new ATAS for another reason, such as a time limit extension that delays your course end date by more than 3 months), please check the thesis submission date on your student record. You can then add 10 weeks to this date to calculate an expected viva date. This is the date that you should enter as your course end date on the ATAS application.
If you are applying for a time limit extension, you should apply for ATAS to cover the date you have requested an extension to + 10 weeks.
Updating ATAS After Your Visa Has Been Issued, e.g. for change of status requests
You will need to apply for a new ATAS clearance certificate if your course details change or if you take a leave of absence that extends your course end date by more than 3 months.
Important update for students who submitted their most recent visa application on or after 6th November 2014 ONLY- Tier 4 students subject to ATAS, need to apply for a new ATAS clearance certificate within 28 calendar days if their course end date (as stated on your CAS) is postponed for a period of more than three calendar months. You also need a new ATAS certificate if there are any changes to the course content or the research proposal.