The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) is a scheme operated by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). It requires certain individuals subject to immigration control to apply for and obtain an ATAS certificate before being able to study or research certain sensitive subjects.

According to the FCDO, the subjects and research areas are those where knowledge could be used in programmes to develop Advanced Conventional Military Technology (ACMT), weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), or their means of delivery. Researchers and students in these sensitive subject areas (other than exempt nationals) must apply for an ATAS certificate before they can study or start research in the UK.

 This scheme was already in place for international students and from 21 May 2021, the scheme has been expanded to researchers applying under the following routes:

  • The Skilled Worker Route
  • T5 Government Authorised Exchange (GAE) route
  • Visitors (carrying out research as a permitted activity) 
  • Senior or Specialist Worker (Glboal Business Mobility)
  • Graduate Trainee (Global Buisness Mobility) 
  • UK Expansion Worker (Global Buisness Mobility) 
  • Secondment Worker (Global Buisness Mobility) 
  • Service Supplier (Global Buisness Mobility) 
  • International Agreement Worker

The requirement to obtain an ATAS certificate applies to all applications (including visa extensions), made from 9am on 21 May 2021, if the following conditions apply:

  1. The applicant is not an exempt national
  2. The role is in a relevant SOC code (for those applying under the Skilled Worker route and the T5 GAE route)
  3. The role includes an element on research at Phd Level and above in one of the relevant subject areas

Where an ATAS certificate is required, a Certificate of Sponsorship will not be assigned until an ATAS certificate has been obtained by the applicant.

Nationals of the following countries are exempt from the ATAS requirement and therefore do not require an ATAS certificate:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Croatia
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Republic of Korea
  • Romania
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United States of America

SOC Codes covered by the ATAS Requirement

The occupation codes covered by the ATAS requirement are:

  • 2111 Chemical scientists
  • 2112 Biological scientists and biochemists
  • 2113 Physical scientists
  • 2114 Social and humanities scientists
  • 2119 Natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified
  • 2150 Research and development managers
  • 2122 Mechanical engineers
  • 2123 Electrical engineers
  • 2124 Electronics engineers
  • 2127 Production and process engineers
  • 2129 Engineering professionals not elsewhere classified
  • 2311 Higher education teaching professionals;
  • 3111 Laboratory technicians
  • 3112 Electrical and electronics technicians
  • 3113 Engineering technicians
  • 3114 Building and civil engineering technicians
  • 5235 Aircraft maintenance and related trades


Relevant Subject Areas covered by the ATAS requirement:

The subject areas covered by the ATAS requirement are identified by their Common Aggregate Hierarchy (CAH3) code and are listed below:

Subjects allied to Medicine:

  • CAH02-02-01 - Pharmacology
  • CAH02-02-02 - Toxicology
  • CAH02-02-03 - Pharmacy
  • CAH10-01-06 - Bioengineering, Medical and Biomedical Engineering

Biological Sciences:

  • CAH03-01-02 - Biology (non-specific)
  • CAH03-01-03 - Ecology and Environmental Biology
  • CAH03-01-06 - Zoology
  • CAH03-01-04 - Microbiology and Cell Science
  • CAH03-01-05 - Plant Sciences
  • CAH10-03-05 - Biotechnology
  • CAH03-01-07 - Genetics
  • CAH02-05-03 - Biomedical Sciences (non-specific)
  • CAH03-01-08 - Molecular Biology, Biophysics and Biochemistry
  • CAH03-01-01 - Biosciences (non-specific)
  • CAH03-01-10 - Others in Biological Sciences

Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects:

  • CAH05-01-02 - Others in Veterinary Sciences
  • CAH06-01-02 - Agricultural sciences

Physical Sciences:

  • CAH07-02-01 - Chemistry
  • CAH10-03-07 - Materials Science
  • CAH07-01-01 - Physics
  • CAH07-01-02 - Astronomy
  • CAH26-01-05 - Others in Geographical Studies
  • CAH07-04-01 - Physical Sciences (non-specific)
  • CAH07-04-03 - Sciences (non-specific)
  • CAH07-04-04 - Natural Sciences (non-specific)

Mathematical and Computer Sciences:

  • CAH09-01-01 - Mathematics
  • CAH09-01-02 - Operational Research
  • CAH11-01-01 - Computer Science
  • CAH11-01-02 - Information Technology
  • CAH11-01-03 - Information Systems
  • CAH11-01-04 - Software Engineering
  • CAH11-01-05 - Artificial Intelligence


  • CAH10-01-01 - Engineering (non-specific)
  • CAH10-01-07 - Civil Engineering
  • CAH10-01-02 - Mechanical Engineering
  • CAH10-01-04 - Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering
  • CAH10-01-05 - Naval Architecture
  • CAH10-01-08 - Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • CAH10-01-09 - Chemical, Process and Energy Engineering


  • CAH10-03-03 - Polymers and Textiles
  • CAH10-03-01 - Minerals Technology
  • CAH10-03-02 - Materials Technology
  • CAH10-03-04 - Maritime Technology


Researchers already in the UK may need to apply for a new ATAS certificate if changing their field of research or where they conduct their research, or are making a new visa application. For full details please see:

Please note that the above information is not intended to be an exhaustive overview of visa categories and requirements. Although we try to ensure that all information is accurate at the time of publishing, the general information on these pages may not fully apply to your specific circumstances and immigration rules and policies may change on short notice.
You should always refer to the Immigration Rules and UKVI Policy Guidance for the full requirements and conditions in the first instance before making an application.