ATAS Clearance

ATAS clearance is a specific clearance granted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office required by all international students and researchers (apart from exempt nationalities) who are subject to UK immigration control and are intending to study or research at postgraduate level in certain sensitive subjects. ATAS clearance must be secured before a new Student visa application can be made and before an application to extend a Tier 4 or Student visa is considered by the UKVI. Details of how to apply for ATAS clearance can be found below. Some nationalities are now exempt from the ATAS requirement. Check if you require an ATAS Certificate.

Who needs ATAS

ATAS is specific to your course, institution and research area and your certificate should reflect these details. If you are a new student you will need to obtain an ATAS certificate before applying for permission to come to the UK.

If you’re an academic researcher applying on the Skilled Worker, Intra-company transfer, Intra-company graduate trainee, Tier 5 International Agreement, and Government Authorised Exchange routes, you will need to apply for, and be granted, an ATAS certificate before applying for a UK visa or permission to stay. You do not need to have a final employment contract before you apply for an ATAS certificate. Your employer will advise whether you are to be employed under a standard occupational classification (SOC) that requires ATAS.

You will also need to obtain a new ATAS certificate if you:

  • extend or switch your visa
  • change your course of study
  • change your research topic or method of research


Who doesn't need ATAS

Students and researchers who are nationals of EU countries, the European Economic Area (EEA), Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the United States of America do not need an ATAS certificate.

if you are coming to the UK as a visitor you do not need to apply for a visa before obtaining your visa but you must apply and obtain the certificate before beginning the research in the UK. We advise you obtain the certificate before you travel in case you are refused.


When you must apply for ATAS

New students

If you are overseas you will need to obtain your ATAS certificate before applying for your visa. Our Admissions team will not issue you with a CAS until they have received a copy.

Existing student in the UK

If you are already studying in the UK with ATAS your certificate is valid until the end date of your course + 3 months. If you intend to extend your permission (visa) you must allow sufficient time to complete your ATAS and permission to stay application before your current permission applies. The FCO who issue the certificates advise that you apply for a new certificate with at least 3 months permission remaining. SIAC will not issue you with a CAS to extend your visa until you provide a new certificate or reference number.

Switching course

If you are switching to a course that requires ATAS you must obtain the certificate before the CAS is issued and before you transfer course.

Details change

If any of the details on your certificate change you must apply for a new certificate as soon as possible.

Applying for ATAS

You need to apply for ATAS online and provide information about your programme of study or research. Students must provide a conditional offer letter with the application. If you are an academic researcher applying for Tier 5 permission you do not need to have a final employment contract before applying. Our HR department can advise on whether you will require ATAS and provide the information you will need.

You will need to provide information on:

  • previous studies
  • previous and current employment (if applicable)
  • all published papers
  • optional modules you might take in a taught Masters (if unsure please include all possible modules)
  • your area of research and a description (for research degrees and researchers)
  • full names and contact details of 2 referees
  • how you will be sponsored whilst in the UK

Please make sure you read and follow the advice on the ATAS website and within the application form itself to avoid delays. Be sure to provide the information requested in the required format – problems with references, missing research statements, or an incomplete education and employment history will cause delays in processing your ATAS application. It is worth noting that ATAS processing does not start until ATAS are satisfied that your application is complete and they have all the documents they require from you.


Providing the University with a copy of your ATAS certificate

You must provide the University with a copy of your ATAS clearance certificate once you have received it by emailing it to either Admissions or Student Information Advice and Compliance.


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