Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS), run by the UK government's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), is designed to prevent the transfer of information and the spread of knowledge or technology that could be used in programmes to develop Advanced Conventional Military Technology (ACMT), weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) or their means of delivery.
With effect from 21 May 2021 any international person 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, at PhD level or above (NB. this means Lecturers, Senior Lecturers, Researchers, Postdoctoral Research Assistants), in one of the Academic Subjects/Fields of Research relevant to ATAS will be required to apply for government clearance by obtaining a free of charge ATAS certificate before they can apply for a Skilled Worker visa to start or continue working in the UK. If they do not include an ATAS certificate with their application, it may be rejected/refused.
Sensitive Academic Subjects include Mathematical and Computer Science, Biological Sciences, Engineering, Physical Sciences, Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects, Technologies, Medicine. There is also a quick assessor to see if ATAS is required or not here.
Exemptions exist for nationals from the UK/Ireland, EEA, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and USA and those applying for other visa types e.g. Global Talent Visas.
The HR Recruitment team must confirm on the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) whether or not the ATAS requirement applies, and therefore the team will liaise closely with the recruiting managers to obtain answers to specific questions to establish if ATAS is required. Where an ATAS certificate is required, the recruiting department will also need to provide a short research statement summarising the research activities the individual will undertake. The individual will need to submit this information when they apply for their ATAS certificate.
It is recommended that individuals submitting an initial or extension visa application apply for their ATAS certificate as early as possible. Individuals can apply for an ATAS certificate in advance and certificates will be valid for 6 months. Applications will normally be processed within 10 working days, up to 15 working days between April and September 2021.
Applicants will need to obtain the ATAS certificate prior to the CoS being issued. An applicant who should obtain ATAS and fails to do so could result in their visa application being refused, and could lead to the University’s sponsor licenses being revoked.