The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) was introduced on 1 November 2007 and students studying certain subject areas at MSci/MEng undergraduate level, PhD or Masters level will require ATAS clearance. Most non-EEA nationals who require immigration permission to be in the UK and intend to study on one of these courses will be required to apply for ATAS clearance. Full details of the courses that are part of this scheme can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.

Who needs to apply
Exempt nationalitiesStudent Route visanon-Student Route visaExtending visa in the UK
Nationals from the UK, EU, EEA, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA are NOT required to have ATAS clearance.  The majority of students will be applying to study under a Student Route visa and if ATAS is required for your course / nationality then this will be a condition of your offer for study. A CAS number will not be issued until all conditions of your offer have been met.  If you are in the UK under a non-student visa, and that immigration permission allows you to study in the UK, and ATAS clearance is required for your course / nationality this will be a condition of your offer for study. A CAS number will not be issued until all conditions of your offer have been met.  Any students (unless from an exempt nationality) already in the UK who need to apply for a new visa to commence or continue on one of the relevant courses will also need to get ATAS clearance before making a Student Route visa application. A CAS number will not be issued until you hold the relevant ATAS clearance.
Summary of the table's contents

General information

Find your CAH code

To apply for ATAS you will need to know the CAH for your course. 


Refer to the UG Course page or PG Course page to find your course. Scroll down the page to the 'Entry Requirements' section and select the 'Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)'  option from the list.


If you are planning to extend your Student Visa, and need to obtain ATAS, please check with your department or email to request the CAH code for your course. 

When to apply

You should apply as soon as you have an offer. As ATAS is a condition of your offer or continuation on a course, a CAS number cannot be issued until all conditions are met and this includes ATAS.

The ATAS processing times are variable and can take much longer during the busy periods. The ATAS website will give an estimated date by which you should receive your certificate; however, this is not a definite prediction. Please do not panic if you have not received your certificate by this date.

If you are requested to amend/update information that you have submitted as part of your application, this will further delay the date by which you will receive a decision.

Please note the College is not able to chase-up ATAS applications. During the busy time of year applications may take longer and some applications are more complicated.

ATAS validity

An ATAS certificate is only valid to be used with a visa application for 6 months from the date of issue. Please ensure that you submit your visa application before the certificate expires!

ATAS application FAQs

IMPORTANT: Please note that the ATAS team will not correct any factual errors or omissions on a pending or granted application. This means you must make sure that you have entered your personal information (eg, name), course title and CAH code correctly. If you have made an error you will need to submit a new ATAS application with the correct information, and this may significantly delay your decision. 

The ATAS team will still update pending or granted applications where a new passport has been issued.

When you begin your ATAS application please select Imperial College London from the drop-down menu. Your ATAS certificate must be linked to Imperial College to be able to use this as part of your visa application to study at Imperial. 

ATAS application queries

PhD offer holders, and postgraduate research visiting students

If you are studying under the Student Route at Imperial College, please ensure you apply under the 'Student' category on the ATAS application website and not as a 'Researcher'. The Researcher category is only for people who are being employed by the College. 


Problems registering on the ATAS website

Try registering from a different computer (e.g. in a place of work or education) or with a new login email address.

Alternatively, try using a different web browser (the ATAS website works best in Google Chrome). You may have trouble using Internet Explorer or Firefox to complete the form.

Taught vs Research

  • Taught = All MEng, MSci and MSc courses
  • Research = All MRes and PhD courses

Problems using a start date in the past

If you are applying to start a brand-new course of study this should not present a problem as your start date will always be in the future as you would require ATAS approval to be able to meet your offer conditions.

Students who are on a continuing course of study who need additional time, or are returning from an interruption of study, will need to make their start date the date of ATAS application or the next day.

Supervisor information

If you do not know or do not have a named Supervisor, then please search for your course information page on the Imperial website and use the name of the Head of Department for your area of study.

If you are coming to do a PhD at Imperial, please include the name of the lead supervisor for your project.

Masters students and optional modules

MSc students must enter the titles of the optional modules which they think they might choose to study as part of the course. For details of the modules available on your course, please see the postgraduate prospectus or contact your department.

For MRes courses, please describe the nature and scope of your main research project and list any core modules. If you have not yet been assigned a research project, please give a course description provided by your department including any core modules and a list of topics for potential research projects. Research statements written in the first person (e.g., I, my) are not acceptable.

MEng and MSci students should also provide information about the modules offered on their course (in particular the final year elective & core modules). This information will be provided by the Undergraduate Admissions Tutor for relevant courses.

PhD research statement

PhD students will also need to enter some information about their proposed area of research. This should be about 6-7 lines in length and agreed with your supervisor in writing (by email is fine). Please see FCO examples of proposed research‌ with examples of good and bad statements of proposed research.

Research statements written in the first person (e.g., I, my) are not accepted.

Joint programme with another country

If your course includes a year abroad, but your degree will only be awarded by Imperial College, then you should answer “No”. If your course includes study in two different countries, and will either be jointly awarded by Imperial College and another institution, or awarded solely by another institution, then you should answer “Yes”.

Education history

In the “Undergraduate / Postgraduate studies” section, the form will ask you whether you have “undertaken any undergraduate or postgraduate studies”. This refers only to studies at university level. If you have not yet completed your course then you must provide your course details including the expected completion date (you can find this information on your My Imperial page) and the expected qualification eg Bachelors, Masters etc.

You are not required to provide information about your high school education.

Employment history

You are required to provide details of employment since you left school that includes any paid work and any long-term voluntary (i.e. unpaid) work.

You do not need to provide information about temporary jobs you have done during university vacations.

If you have not undertaken any employment as mentioned above, select “No” in this section.


The ATAS guidance states that you need to provide the

  • Full names and contact details of 2 referees (First name(s) and Family name).
  • You must have known both of your referees for at least 3 years.
  • One of your referees must be an academic.
  • One of the referees must be from your home country.
  • If you have been studying outside of your home country, then you can use an academic referee that is not from your country of origin (eg if you have studied your UG in the UK then you may use a UK academic as a referee).
  • If you are applying for ATAS to start or continue with an undergraduate Mastersprogramme MEng / MSci), then you may use a high school teacher as a referee to meet the 3 year requirement.

Referees not from your home country

If you are unable to provide referees from your home country because you have been studying elsewhere, this should not be an issue. Please just provide two referees from your most recent studies who have known you for 3 years.

Financial sponsorship

If you have been granted a scholarship/bursary then you will be asked to provide the details.

If you are self-funded (i.e. you or your parents will cover the costs of the course) then where it asks for 'Sponsor name' you can write 'self-funded'.

Change of passport

If you have been issued a new passport please email the International Student Support team with your ATAS ID and a photo of the photo page in your new passport and we will forward this on to the ATAS team.
  • If your ATAS has already been issued then the ATAS team will re-issue your certificate with the new passport details. 
  • If your ATAS has not yet been issued it should be issued with the correct information.
Where you have changed nationality, you may be required to apply for a new ATAS.

Incorrect CAH code

ATAS pending or granted

You will need to make a new ATAS application using the correct CAH code. Once you have submitted a new application, please email the International Student Support team a copy of the issued ATAS certificate and the ATAS Reference Number for the new application. Our team will forward this to the FCO to ask if they can fast-track the application. There is no guarantee that the application will be fast-tracked. You will need to wait until you have your new ATAS certificate before making your visa application.