An ATAS certificate is issued by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). ATAS gives a student clearance to study subject areas where the knowledge gained may have application in the development or delivery of weapons of mass destruction (for example, some mathematics, engineering, technology or medicine courses). These are referred to by the government as “sensitive subjects”.
ATAS clearance is required to study these subjects at Essex if you are a PhD student and;
You will not require ATAS clearance if you;
It can take up to 30 working days for the FCDO to process your application for ATAS clearance and may be much longer in busy periods. You won’t be able to obtain a CAS to apply for a Student visa or apply for Visitor permission until you have the certificate so, make sure you allow plenty of time to apply.
Read all the guidance on the government website for more information.
Whether ATAS is required will depend on the CAH3 (Common Aggregate Hierarchy) code that applies to your course and your nationality. Your offer letter will outline whether your programme requires an ATAS certificate and include the CAH3 code. You can also use the government website to check if you need an ATAS certificate.
If ATAS is required, it will be a condition of your immigration permission. It is your responsibility to ensure that you adhere to all the conditions that apply to you, including that your ATAS clearance certificate is valid for the full duration of your studies. Breaching your immigration conditions is an offence and can have serious consequences for you.
If you are applying for an ATAS to start a new course the FCDO recommend you apply 6 months before you are due to start the course.
If you are continuing a course and require new ATAS to apply for Student immigration permission, the FCDO recommend you apply 4 months before your current immigration permission is due to expire.
Once you have established that you require ATAS clearance and have all the information you require, you will be able to sign in or create and account to complete and submit your ATAS application form online.
Proposed course of study section: you will input the paragraph describing your research topic that has been provided by your supervisor/department and is included in your offer letter. If you are continuing a course, the paragraph that you provided to our International Services team to obtain the CAH3 code should be used.
Course start date: If you are applying for ATAS for a course you have already started you will not be able to enter a date that is in the past, the FCDO have confirmed that you should put the date of the next working day as the course start date.
You will receive your certificate via email, usually within 30 days however, it can take longer. Check your junk/spam folders regularly. When you receive it, you should read the government guidance online.
Check the details are correct and match your offer/research area the university provided. If there are any mistakes or inaccuracies contact the ATAS unit at the FCDO.
Send a copy to the relevant team at the university and let us know if you have reported any mistakes or inaccuracies to the FCDO:
If you have requested a CAS to apply for Student immigration permission, we will be able to continue with our processes and checks and if you are eligible, we will issue your CAS once these are completed. After you receive your CAS you should be able to apply for Student immigration permission.
If you are applying for a Visitor visa you will be able to submit your application provided you meet all the other requirements. If you are a non-visa national and will be applying for entry at the UK border, you must carry all the required supporting documents in your hand luggage, this includes your ATAS certificate.
If you have not received the outcome to your application or, have an enquiry:
You can contact the FCDO by email, provided it has been more than 20 days since you applied.
If your application is refused:
You should read the government guidance and follow instructions you are given in the outcome if you wish to ask for a review. The university has no influence over the decision, but you must let us know:
You are very unlikely to be able to study with us as planned if your application is refused. If you have requested a CAS to apply for Student immigration permission this will not be processed.