If you aspire to pursue your post-graduation in the UK then you may come across the term ATAS. Immigration laws make it mandatory for some students to have an ATAS certificate in order to get a visa. But, what is an ATAS certificate? This guide will help you understand everything about this unique scheme in the simplest manner. Read till the end to make sure you are aware of all the minor details.
What Is An ATAS Certificate?
ATAS is an acronym for Academic Technology Approval Scheme. It is a scheme designed by the British government in order to certify foreign students from outside the EU to study or conduct research in certain sensitive technology-related fields in the UK. The term ‘sensitive subjects’ includes knowledge of fields that can be used in programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or their means of delivery. Areas of study at which the ATAS is directed are chemistry, engineering, physics, biophysics, metallurgy and microbiology.
The ATAS is applicable to all international students who are subject to UK immigration control. The immigration law in the UK does not permit universities to allow students to study at a course that is applicable to ATAS unless and until the student has provided the relevant ATAS certificate for their application to the university. In some cases, the ATAS certificate is compulsory for students while applying for a visa or visa extension.
The ATAS was introduced in 2007 to prevent the dissemination of knowledge and skills that can prove to be detrimental for the human race. This is done by ensuring that the applicant does not have any links to Advanced Conventional Military Technology (ACMT) or WMD programmes.
Who Needs An ATAS certificate?
All students who hail from a country outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland are applicable for an ATAS certificate. ,for which they will have to submit their ATAS application
The two main clauses in which you need an ATAS certificate are:
- If your nationality is outside the EEA and Switzerland
- And if you are applying to study at the postgraduate level in the UK.
You may also need an ATAS certificate if you choose an undergraduate course with an integrated master’s degree.
Who Doesn’t Need An ATAS Certificate?
It is also necessary to know who doesn’t need an ATAS certificate, so here it goes.
You don’t need an ATAS certificate if you’re:
- coming to the UK as an academic visitor
- coming to the UK to do research that is not linked to any studies
- doing a postgraduate diploma or PGCE: continue with your application for permission as necessary. You should not be asked for any further documentation with regards to ATAS, as long as your offer letter clearly states that you’re studying for a postgraduate Diploma or PGCE
- applying for an extension to stay for the sole purpose of writing up your thesis and your previous visa did not require ATAS clearance as it was issued before 30 November 2007.
How Do I Know If I Need An ATAS Certificate?
Hopefully, now you know – what is an ATAS certificate? Let’s see if you need one.
If you are looking forward to pursuing a taught or research master’s programme then you will require an ATAS certificate. Contact your proposed Higher Education Institution (HEI) to confirm whether they define your course as taught or research. Note that this varies from course to course and from institution to institution.
All subject areas studied at UK Higher Education Institutions are identified by CAH3 (Common Aggregate Hierarchy 3) code. Your HEI will provide you with a CAH3 code and confirm whether you require an ATAS certificate.
How Do I Get An ATAS Certificate?
ATAS for New Students – As a new student, you need a conditional offer from your Higher Education Institution (HEI). This should be accompanied by an agreed research statement or list of modules. In case you have more than one offer, you need separate certificates for each offer.
ATAS for Continuing Students – As an existing student, you will need an updated research statement or list of module information to complete the ATAS application. The same procedure will be applicable if you plan on applying for a visa extension. The process of an ATAS application is a different process from your HEI applications.
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To apply for an ATAS certificate online, you will need to provide information on these sections:
- The proposed course of study – State the reason why you want to study this course and include the information provided by the university. (Include the CAH3 code)
- Personal details.
- Contact details.
- Details of Previous studies and other relevant studies.
- Published papers.
- Employment history.
- Two referees.
What Is The Process of ATAS?
Now that you know about the certificate let’s go through its process. As a student who has applied for ATAS clearance, you have to undergo a screening system to validate your reasons for coming to the UK. According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the checks will attempt to filter out those students whose intentions are adverse to national security.
How Long Is The ATAS Certificate Processing Time?
The processing time of an ATAS certificate is 20 days or more during peak months. It is recommended that you apply 9 months in advance in order to avoid any unprecedented delays and get your ATAS clearance early on.
We hope that now you have all the information you need to need regarding ATAS. If you want to read further about this topic then consider reading: How to get an ATAS letter for studying in the UK.
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