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The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

Students with immigration permission to be in the UK undertaking some MEng degrees and other postgraduate qualifications mainly in some science and engineering subjects require an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) security clearance certificate from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the UK Government.

Whether you need an ATAS certificate depends on your specific area of study. If you do need it, and you are making an application for Student immigration permission to study at Queen Mary University of London, you will need to obtain the ATAS certificate before your CAS is issued. Your offer letter will confirm whether you need it. If you have any other type of immigration permission, you still need an ATAS certificate before you can start the course, if it is in one of the specific subject areas.

For more information about which subject areas and qualifications need an ATAS certificate, and to apply for one if you need it, see the UK Government website

  • If you are studying one of these courses, you need to apply for an ATAS certificate before you make your application for Student immigration permission.
  • Current students will need to show their ATAS certificate when requesting their CAS from QMUL.
  • It can take 30 working days (6 weeks) for an ATAS certificate to be issued and sometimes longer during busy periods. We recommend that you apply as early as possible.
  • There is no charge for applying for an ATAS certificate and you can apply for as many certificates as you have offers.

Update during the pandemic and remote study: Undergraduate (MEng/MSci) and all Postgraduate Taught students on programmes requiring ATAS can enrol to start studies remotely before evidence of ATAS clearance has been obtained. ATAS clearance will still be necessary to issue the CAS. Postgraduate Resarch students will not be able to enrol until they have ATAS clearance. 

*You must include a copy of your ATAS certificate with your visa supporting documents if you are applying for a Student visa for an applicable course* 

Nationalities not requiring ATAS clearance

Under the new Student Route, introduced on 5 October 2020, nationals of EU/EEA countries and Switzerland, USA, South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, Japan, Canada and Australia will be exempt from the ATAS requirement. 

What do I do if my ATAS application is delayed?

If you have not had a response from the FCO, check your Junk/Spam folder, in case it has been filtered out. You can also contact the ATAS Team at the FCO via their website if you think you have missed their response.

What if something changes after I apply for my ATAS certificate?

If you have been granted an ATAS certificate, but something has changed, you will need to apply for a new ATAS certificate with your new details within 28 calendar days of any such changes being agreed.

Relevant changes include if:

  • You change your programme and your new programme also requires ATAS approval. You must get the new approval before starting the new programme.
  • The completion date stated on your CAS is postponed by three calendar months or more
  • The length of your programme changes, for example you need to re-sit a failed module or if your research takes longer than expected
  • Your area of research or your programme content (modules) change
  • You move to another institution

If you need a new ATAS certificate, we recommend that you apply for your new ATAS certificate as soon as possible, so that you will know if you will be allowed to complete your studies.

For how long is my ATAS certificate valid?

Your ATAS certificate will be valid for 6 months, and you must submit your Student visa application within this 6 month period. You would then only need to apply for a new ATAS certificate if there is a relevant change to your course, as listed above. 

How can I check what my CAH3 code is?

If you are a new student, you should check your conditional offer letter. The Admissions Department will be able to provide more information if required. You can email: 

If you are a continuing student, you can check with the Research Degrees Office if you are not sure. You can find their contact details here

What should I write for 'sponsor' if Queen Mary is my official financial sponsor? 

If Queen Mary is your official financial sponsor (i.e. paying your tuition fees and providing you with a stipend), then you can copy the contact details from your sponsorship letter. This would usually be the details of your academic department.

If you are meeting all the costs of your studies yourself, please put your own name and address in the relevant boxes. If another family member is meeting the costs, put down their details. 

Law, regulations and policies can change quickly. The information on our website is given in good faith and has been carefully checked but QMUL cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. QMUL is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites which are provided for further information.

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