The Government has expanded the ATAS Scheme to include certain research staff

From 21 May 2021, the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) will be expanded to include international workers and visitors who will be undertaking sensitive research activities in the UK.

Under current regulations, ATAS applies to international students in certain sensitive STEM areas. Specifically subjects where knowledge could be used to develop Advanced Conventional Military Technology or weapons of mass destruction. Students studying these sensitive subjects, who are subject to UK immigration control, must apply for an ATAS certificate before they can study in the UK. From 21 May, certain international research staff and visiting researchers will also be required to have an ATAS certificate.

Individuals 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.

What this means for the University

  • From 21 May 2021, researchers coming to the UK under: the Skilled Worker, Inter-company transfer, Tier 5 International Agreement, and Government Authorised Exchange Visa routes will need to apply for, and be granted, ATAS certification before making their visa application.
  • ATAS Clearance will also be required for those seeking to extend their permission to stay in the UK under the Visa routes listed above.
  • International researchers coming to the UK as a visitor will also need to obtain an ATAS certification before beginning any relevant research activity in the UK.
  • Failure to comply with this government legislation could result in the University losing its Skilled Worker, Temporary Worker and Student Visa sponsorship licences.

Next Steps

  • We have started managing new Visa applications in line with the pending changes to requirements.
  • ATAS are anticipating a 2-3 week lead time on processing applications from researchers and a detailed technical summary of the research will be needed from recruiting managers to support the ATAS application.

Guidance on ATAS is now available on the HR webpages. This includes details of the subject areas covered by ATAS and confirms which nationalities are exempt.

Detailed guidance is also available on the Government website.

If you have any further queries after reading the web guidance please contact