Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)
The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) is a security clearance scheme introduced by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. The security clearance is required by those undertaking research at PhD level or above in certain sensitive subjects (including science, engineering, medicine and technology). Some nationalities are exempt from this scheme.
The ATAS clearance is intended to prevent the transfer of knowledge which could “develop, advance or support Advanced Conventional Military Technology or Weapons of Mass Destruction”.
- Skilled Worker
- Global Business Mobility
- T5 (GAE) Sponsored Researcher
- Visiting academics undertaking research under the Standard Visitor route.
- Nationals of EU countries, the European Economic Area (EEA), and Swiss Nationals
- Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the United States of America.
Dual nationals who hold one of the listed nationalities will also be exempt.
ATAS requirement is not determined by place of residence but nationality only.
If you are sponsored (or will be sponsored) as a lecturer, researcher or lab technician in any of the subject areas listed in the next section (and are not an exempt national) you will require an ATAS certificate.
If you are a visiting academic coming to undertake research in a sensitive subject area via the Standard Visitor route, you will also require ATAS clearance.
Jobs are classified under Standard Occupation Codes (SOC) codes. See the full list of applicable SOC codes.
If you are an international applicant and you are offered a role at the university, HR will assess the ATAS requirement for you. We will provide the CAH code, SOC code and a research statement from the hiring department which you will need in order to apply.
If you are a visiting academic arriving via the Standard Visitor route, your sponsoring faculty will confirm ATAS requirements to you in your confirmation letter.
You must have your ATAS clearance certificate to allow you to apply for your sponsored visa. HR will be unable to supply a Certificate of Sponsorship until your ATAS has been received – unless you are an existing member of staff and your visa is due to expire – please see below.
If you are a visiting academic, you may apply for your Standard Visitor visa without your ATAS clearance, however, you will be required to show your clearance before you commence any research. If is recommended that you do not book your travel until you have received your clearance certificate.
If you are a current employee of the University and you are applying for an extension but your ATAS has been delayed, the University will be able to provide you with a Certificate of Sponsorship and will add a sponsor note.
You will be able to apply for your visa but you will not receive the outcome until you have supplied the ATAS certificate.
Having an active application in progress will allow you to remain in the UK and to continue working at the University under the terms of your original Certificate of Sponsorship.
If your ATAS is delayed and you do not apply for a new visa before your current visa expires, you will be considered to have overstayed your visa and you will be required to leave the country and apply for a new visa from outside of the UK.
It is advisable that you apply for your extension, pending ATAS no later than two weeks before your current visa expires. This allows HR to conduct further Right to Work checks for you to ensure you can continue working.
HR are generally in contact with line managers and staff members well in advance of visas expiring, and we encourage ATAS applications to be submitted as early as possible. Sometimes it is not known whether research funding will be extended but if there is even a chance that it will be extended, HR would encourage you to apply for your ATAS certificate.
If you or your line manager are at all uncertain, please do not hesitate to contact HROperations@surrey.ac.uk.
ATAS is free to apply.
You will receive a copy of your certificate to the email you provide on your application. The University will also receive an approved copy directly from the Home Office. We are only able to accept certificates which have been sent directly to the University.
The Home Office advertise between 10 and 20 days. On some occasions there have been long delays. This is outside of the control of the University / HR.
If you have not received your ATAS certificate, please contact HROperations@surrey.ac.uk to advise us of the delay, we will do our best to chase your application with the Home Office, however, you should also contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
They will not respond to queries sent within 20 days of your application submission date.
Unfortunately, not. ATAS certificates are unique to the research you are undertaking. If you are new to the university or if you are changing research focus / roles, you will need a new ATAS certificate.
Yes – you will need a new certificate for each visa extension, even if the certificate is still within the validity date.