Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

The advice on this page was last reviewed on 07.01.21 and supersedes any previous versions.

If you are applying for a Student Visa, your Offer Letter and Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from the University will state if you need to obtain an ATAS certificate before applying for your visa. If an ATAS not listed as required on your CAS you do not need one.

If you have or need a visa (immigration permission) to be in the UK and are planning to undertake postgraduate study in certain science, engineering or technology disciplines, then you will need to acquire an ATAS certificate before you can apply for a visa to come to the UK or to extend your current immigration leave.

This includes anyone with limited leave to be in the UK, for example: Student and Tier 4 Visa Holders; PBS Dependants; people studying on Tier 1 or 2 visas and other immigration categories. You will not be able to enrol on your course if you need an ATAS certificate and have not yet got one.

Students 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.

Currently at the University of South Wales, only certain taught postgraduate courses in the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Science require an ATAS certificate. Some MEng courses, Doctorate and Masters by Research courses also require an ATAS certificate.

If you are a Doctoral or Masters by Research student and you have received a Common Aggregate Hierarchy (CAH3) code, then you can check this code against the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Do I need an ATAS Certificate information to see whether it is identified as ATAS applicable . A CAH3 code consists of a letter followed by 4 digits and they are attributed by educational institutions to each course or area of research.

You will need to make your ATAS application online  and the application is free.

You will need to have your offer letter to hand and this letter has the CAH3 code of the course you have been accepted on. You will also need the following information to fill in the form:

  • your full name and contact details
  • passport details
  • name and nationality of your spouse/partner (if applicable)
  • full details of any previous and current employment (if applicable)
  • the programme of study you are applying to follow in the UK (including CAH3 code)
  • for a PhD or Masters by research: your full research proposal and not just the title
  • for a taught Masters: details of the optional modules you anticipate taking
  • full details of published papers (if applicable)
  • previous ATAS applications (if applicable)
  • names and contact details of two referees. You must have known both of your referees for at least three years. At least one of these must be an academic from your country of origin
  • details of how you will be funding your studies
You will not be asked to submit or attach any documentation to support your ATAS application.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office website holds further details about the ATAS scheme, including a guide to completing the online form.  You are advised to make use of this comprehensive advice.

The standard processing time for ATAS applications is 20 working days. You will be sent an initial email acknowledging your application and a further email, within 20 working days, with the result of your application, including an ATAS certificate, if approved.

If you have not heard anything within 20 working days please check your inbox is not full (and therefore rejecting their message) and please also check your ‘Spam’ folder to make sure that their message has not been filtered out.

You can Contact the ATAS Team if you are concerned you have missed their response. Please note that they will not respond if 20 working days have not elapsed since your time of application.

If your course start date is more than 6 months after the ATAS has been issued, or if your course end date has changed by more than 3 months you will need to make a new ATAS application.

Failure to make a new application could lead to problems with any immigration applications you make, and could mean the University is unable to enrol you onto your course.

The Student Visa guidance explains that an ATAS certificate is issued for a specific course with a named sponsor and remains valid as long as the sponsor and/or course details do not change, including the length of the course. This means that you must apply for a new ATAS certificate if you:

  • change your course;
  • change your institution; or
  • apply to extend your leave in order to complete your course.

Once you have obtained your ATAS certificate you will be able to be issued a CAS to use in your student visa application. You should forward a copy of your ATAS to the relevant University Department which is Enquiries and Admissions  for new courses and your Advice Zone or the Graduate Research Office for a CAS to complete courses.

Possession of an ATAS certificate does not guarantee your visa application will be successful, but your application will automatically be refused if you need an ATAS certificate but do not provide one.

If your ATAS application is unsuccessful you will need to contact the Immigration & International Student Advice Team for advice on what steps to take next.