The ATAS scheme currently applies to international students (depending on nationality) who require a visa to study in the UK and are intending to study at postgraduate level in certain sensitive subjects. The subjects are those where knowledge could be used in programmes to develop Advanced Conventional Military Technology (ACMT), weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) or their means of delivery.
The government considers there to be significant threat to the UK’s national and border security and in view of this has decided to expand ATAS to include researchers who will be undertaking research activities in the UK that could possibly result in the Intangible Transfer of Technology (ITT) to WMD and ACMT programmes of concern.
With effect from 21 May 2021, an ATAS certificate will also be required for any individual member of staff entering the UK to undertake research in one of the listed subject areas. This will include post-doctoral researchers, academic staff undertaking research (including those undertaking teaching and research) as well as visiting academic and research staff.
This change will take additional time in the recruitment process and will delay when a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) can be issued and when an appointed international researcher / academic can start. If you can respond quickly to requests from HR on this matter, it will reduce the delay.
Who needs to apply for an ATAS Certificate?
You (or your member of staff if you are recruiting them) will be required to apply for an ATAS certificate if all five of the following criteria are met:
- Nationality - you are not a citizen of one of the following countries: EU/EEA countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and the United States of America;
- Visa Application Type - you will be entering the UK or extending your permission to stay under the Skilled Worker route (for employees), Temporary Worker Government Authorised Exchange (T5) route (used predominantly for visiting academics/researchers) or Standard/Academic Visitor route
- Role Level - you will be carrying out research at PhD level or above
- Role Type - your role is sponsored under one of these Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes
- Subject Area - your subject area falls under one of these academic subject (CAH3) codes
I'm a visiting academic/researcher, do I need an ATAS certificate?
You will not be required to apply for an ATAS certificate if you are attending a conference, interview, meeting, workshop etc.
If you will be undertaking any of the following activities in one of the sensitive subject areas, you will be required to apply for an ATAS certificate:
- gathering information and facts for a specific project which directly relates to your employment overseas, or conducting independent research
- sharing knowledge or advising on an international project that is being led from the UK, provided you are not carrying out research in the UK
- taking part in formal exchange arrangements with UK counterparts (including doctors)
- carrying out research for your own purposes if you are on sabbatical leave from your home institution
In this case, you will need to obtain an ATAS certificate before beginning any relevant research activity once you arrive in the UK, but will not need to do so before making a visa application (where you are required to do so).
It is strongly recommended that you obtain your ATAS certificate before travelling to the UK. The University is required to check your ATAS certificate before allowing any research to commence, and if this is not provided you cannot be permitted on-site.
I'm already in the UK as a researcher, do I need an ATAS certificate?
You do not need to apply for an ATAS certificate if you are already conducting research in the UK or were a visitor conducting research in the UK before the requirement for ATAS certificates was introduced on 21 May 2021, and you are continuing this research.
You will need to apply for an ATAS certificate if you:
- are already conducting research in the UK and you apply for a new visa or apply to extend your current visa
- were a visitor conducting research in the UK before the requirement for ATAS certificates was introduced on 21 May 2021 and are returning to the UK to do research
- hold an ATAS certificate for a UK course you have undertaken and are making a new application for a Skilled Worker Visa or Temporary Worker Government Authorised Exchange (T5). You need it before you apply for a visa
- change your field of research or change where you conduct your research
I will be conducting research at Bath and another HEI/research institute, is it ok for me to have only one ATAS certificate?
No, you will require one ATAS certificate for each HEI/research institute.
As a line manager, will I be notified if my applicant needs an ATAS certificate?
Where an ATAS certificate is required for an applicant, this will be confirmed to you as the recruiting manager by HR. You will be asked to provide the following information in relation to the research area of the role as part of the recruitment/fixed-term contract extension process (if applicable).
- Academic subject (CAH3) code
- Subject/Area of Research
- Research Statement (max. 2000 characters) - You will be asked to provide a brief summary of the applicant’s area of research. This should include information on the scope and application of the research, and the experimental tests and methods/techniques which might be used. You should include complex technical details where appropriate. The summary should be written in the third person and you should ensure this matches the description of the applicant's role as per the job description
The applicant will then use the information you provide above as part of their ATAS application.
As an applicant, will I be notified if I need an ATAS certificate?
As either a new starter or existing member of staff, you will be notified by the Staff Immigration Team if you are required to apply for an ATAS Certificate. They will advise you of your SOC code, academic subject (CAH3) code and provide you with the research statement from your line manager. These are some of the details you will need to submit as part of your ATAS application.
When should I apply?
You will be required to obtain an ATAS certificate before applying for either a Skilled Worker Visa or Temporary Worker Government Authorised Exchange (T5) Visa. As these are both sponsored routes, they will require a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) issued by the University before making the visa application. The Staff Immigration Team will not issue you with a CoS until they have received formal confirmation from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) that your ATAS application has been approved.
The entry clearance officer will ask to see your ATAS certificate as part of your application for permission to enter the UK. A caseworker will also need to see your ATAS certificate as part of an application for permission to stay in the UK.
How do I apply?
To apply for an ATAS certificate, please visit the GOV.UK website.
What do I need to apply?
Please visit the GOV.UK website for more information on how to apply for your ATAS certificate.
As part of the recruitment process, your line manager will be asked to provide specific information in relation to the research area of the role. This will include a short research statement summarising the research activities you will be required to undertake. You will be provided with this information along with the SOC code and CAH3 code by the Staff Immigration Team.
How much will it cost?
There is currently no charge to apply for an ATAS certificate.
How long will the application process take?
Current guidelines advise a turnaround time of 10 working days (2 full weeks) to process an ATAS application. Processing times will increase between April and September and can take 15 or more working days to complete.
How long is it valid for?
The ATAS certificate is valid for 6 months.
What will I receive?
If your ATAS application is successful, you will receive a certificate by email from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). You should check your junk folders regularly to ensure the email has not been filtered out. When you receive your certificate, you should:
- check the details on it are correct and match your research documentation from the University
- if the details are correct, print the certificate and include it in your visa application documentation
- contact the ATAS unit at ATAS@fcdo.gov.uk if there are mistakes or inaccuracies
The University will also receive a copy of this email confirming if your application has been successful.