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Academic Technology Approval Scheme

What is the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)?

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) was introduced on 1st November 2007. In common with other governments around the world, the British Government is working hard to stop the spread of knowledge and skills that could be used in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery. The ATAS is designed to ensure that people who are applying to study certain sensitive subjects in the UK do not have links to WMD programmes.

What does this mean for students?

If you are an international student planning to undertake postgraduate study in the UK in certain science, engineering or technology disciplines after 1st November 2007, then you will need to obtain an ATAS certificate before you can apply for a visa either to come to the UK (Entry Clearance) or to extend your current student visa (Leave to Remain).

Will I need an ATAS certificate?

Before applying for your visa to come to the UK or to stay in the UK, check your CAS (Confirmation for Acceptance for Studies) statement which will state whether you need an ATAS certificate.

You can consult the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for a list of courses which are identified as ATAS applicable. The courses are identified according to the beginning of their Joint Academic Coding of Subjects (JACS) code. A JACS code consists of a letter followed by 4 digits. JACS codes are attributed by educational institutions to each course or area of research.

You can find out the JACS code for your course from your academic school office or by contacting Student Records 

Will I have to pay for the ATAS Certificate?

No - the ATAS application is completely free

What if I make a change to my course?

The Tier 4 Policy Guidance explains that an 'ATAS certificate is issued for a specific course with a named Tier 4 sponsor and remains valid as long as the Tier 4 sponsor and/ or course details do not change, including the length of the course’. As  of 6th November 2014 students who are subject to ATAS must apply for a new ATAS clearance certificate within 28 days if their course end date (as stated on their CAS) is postponed for a period of more than three calendar months, and/or there are any changes to the course content or research proposal. This means that you must apply for a new ATAS clearance certificate if you:

• change your course (including if the area of research/ modules change) 

• change your institution;

• apply to extend your leave in order to complete your course

• change the length of your course, even if you are still able to complete your studies within your current leave

Doctorate Extension Scheme

If you are considering applying to extend your visa under the Doctorate Extension Scheme this may also have implications for your ATAS clearance. For more information on the Doctorate Extension Scheme please go to the UKCISA website or contact us by emailing

How do I apply for my ATAS certificate?

You must make your ATAS application on-line. 

The form should take no longer than one hour to complete. You can save the form and return to it at a later date if you do not have all of the information to hand.

What information will I need in order to complete the application form?

You will need to have your University offer letter to hand and the JACS code of your course. You will also need the following information:

• Contact details

• Passport details

• Name and nationality of your spouse/partner (if applicable)

• Details of previous studies

• Details of previous/current employment (if applicable)

• Details of the programme of study (including the JACS code)

• For a PhD or Masters by research: your full research proposal; not just the title

• For a taught Masters: details of the optional modules you anticipate taking

• Details of published papers (if applicable)

• Details of previous ATAS applications (if applicable)

• The names and contact details of two referees. You must have known both referees for at least three years. At least one must be an academic from your country of origin

• How you will be funding your studies.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office website holds further details about the ATAS scheme. Read through the guidance carefully.

How long will it take to get my ATAS certificate?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office aim to respond to all applications within 20 working days from the date they receive your completed application.

You will be sent an email within 20 working days, with the result of your application, including an ATAS clearance certificate if approved.

If you have not heard anything within 20 working days check that your inbox is not full and check your ‘Spam’ or Junk Mail folder to make sure the message has not been filtered out.

You can email the Foreign and Commonwealth Office ATAS team if you are concerned you have missed their response. Please note that they will not respond if 20 days has not elapsed since the date of your application.

What do I do next?

Once you have obtained your ATAS certificate you can apply to extend your Tier 4 (General) visa. Please refer to our guidance on Extending your student visa through International Student Support for detailed advice and information.

Remember, it is extremely important to apply to extend your visa before your current visa expires.

If you have not received your ATAS Certificate by the time you need to extend your visa do not delay submitting your application. Contact International Student Support for advice and assistance in making your visa application.

Please note that possession of an ATAS certificate does not guarantee your visa application will be successful. However, your application will automatically be refused if you need an ATAS certificate but cannot provide one. 


Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information herein, Cardiff University can accept no responsibility for errors or omissions.

Cardiff University is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites and does not necessarily endorse the views expressed.

The government makes changes to the immigration rules and procedures on a regular basis; it is important that you check the current guidance and rules when applying for a visa. For further information visit UKCISA and the Home Office websites.