Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) for international researchers

International researchers working in certain sensitive areas will be required to obtain an ATAS certificate before applying for their visa.

This is an expansion of the scheme which currently applies to international students who require a visa to study in the UK and are intending to study at postgraduate level in certain sensitive subjects where their knowledge could be used in programmes to develop Advanced Conventional Military Technology (ACMT), weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) or their means of delivery.

Any individual who will be undertaking research activities, at PhD level or above, in one of the Academic Subjects/Fields of Research relevant to ATAS, please see this link for an up to date list of subjects. If the applicant’s role involves research or being part of a team conducting research in one or more of these subjects, they must apply to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to obtain a free of charge ATAS certificate before HR assigns the Certificate of Sponsorship.

This will include International researchers and technicians applying for the skilled worker visa, including extensions, and Sponsored Researchers applying for Government-authorised Exchange visas and Visiting academics and researchers.

Exemptions will exist for nationals from the EEA, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and USA and those applying for Global Talent Visas.


Do I need an ATAS certificate?

If you are submitting an initial or extension visa application in one of the following visa categories you may require an ATAS depending on your subject area and nationality:

  • Staff applying for a Skilled Worker visa or extension;
  • Sponsored Researchers applying for a Government Authorised Exchange visa;
  • Visitors applying for a Visitor visa where research as part of a permitted activity is subject to the ATAS condition.

What does the ATAS condition mean?

The ATAS condition means that individuals undertaking research as part of employment at the University of Liverpool must obtain a valid ATAS certificate before commencing research in any of the specified academic subjects or fields of research.

When should I apply for ATAS?

You should apply for your ATAS certificate as early as possible as you will need to submit this as part of your visa application.  If you are a new visa applicant, it is recommended that you apply as soon as you receive your job offer but no earlier than 6 months before your proposed work start date. If you are applying to extend your visa, it is recommended that you apply at least 4 months before (but no earlier than 6 months before) your current visa expiry date.  HR will not assign the Certificate of Sponsorship unless the ATAS certificate has been received.

What is my CAH code?

To apply for an ATAS certificate you will need to know the CAH code for your field of research as you will need to enter this on your application form. 

Your academic supervisor should confirm your CAH code with you. They can consider this from the list of up to date subject: see link. The CAH code should be selected based on your research project.

What if my project falls under multiple CAH codes?

If your academic supervisor feels that several CAH codes could apply to the project they should choose the CAH code for the most significant subject and ensure the statement of research refers to the other areas of research.

Please note that if there are several codes that could apply and only one falls into ATAS you would still need to apply for an ATAS certificate with that code.

How Long will it take for an ATAS Decision? 

ATAS does not offer an expedited service. Applications are processed impartially and in order of receipt to the following timescales:

  • October to March: up to 20 working days
  • April to September: up to 30 working days

When do I submit the ATAS certificate?

Individuals must submit the ATAS certificate as part of the visa application process


Click here to find out if you need ATAS. For further guidance on the ATAS scheme and making an application please click here.

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