An international student or postdoc from a list of certain countries has to obtain an ATAS certificate before being able to applying for a UK visa, and that certificate has to be obtained again every year. In the link above, however, I could not find any information about new faculty members (lecturers). In particular, assume a new lecturer, with a permanent contract, who has obtained an ATAS certificate and, subsequently, a 5-year skilled worker visa. Does that individual have to apply for ATAS every year, or it is just a once-for-all experience?

  • "that certificate has to be obtained again every year." - please can you clarify which specific scenarios require renewing the ATAS certificate yearly? The linked guidance suggests this is generally not the case, though I can imagine postdocs on 1-year contracts (and hence requiring yearly Skilled Worker visas) would need a new ATAS certificate for their new visa application.
    – B.Liu
    Nov 6, 2022 at 16:28
  • @B.Liu: I know a couple of Ph.D. students and postdoc fellows whose visa is multiple-year, but they have to apply for ATAS every year.
    – user41207
    Nov 6, 2022 at 18:47
  • @User That's fairly unusual (for PhDs at least, postdocs generally experience more project scope changes that require new ATAS). There is no annual ATAS requirement. A new ATAS is needed if the scope or techniques of research changes beyond original approval, no matter how much time has passed since the last ATAS. Usually one should make the application as general as possible to avoid frequent ATAS applications.
    – xngtng
    Nov 6, 2022 at 19:04

2 Answers 2


If you are a faculty member you are not studying as a student or performing research as a contracted researcher the documentation the ATAS is not clear. However you should always ask the HR department of your employer for clarification.

The staff guidance at different universities (as shown on their web pages) is also contradictory or vague. However at least one major university does explicitly say that academic staff covered by the subjects of study and nationality clauses of ATAS must have an ATAS.

If you are in employment always be guided by your employer, but the UCU (Academic's Trade Union) can be an independent source of advice.


Short answer (Nov 2022): Assuming the individual has already obtained an ATAS certificate and subsequently a 5-year Skilled Worker visa, the individual is not required to reapply for an ATAS certificate every year. Some exceptions related to a change in employment circumstances apply.

Immigration rules are subject to frequent changes - future readers should verify whether the content within this answer remains up to date.

Long answer:

The individual in question is newly hired as a lecturer under a permanent contract. They obtained an ATAS certificate and used the certificate to secure a 5-year Skilled Worker visa. For the avoidance of doubt, we also assume the individual is already in the UK and performing their role when we reach the one-year mark (when the OP suggested a new ATAS certificate is required).

According to this GOV.UK guidance on whether one requires an ATAS certificate, they are considered as a researcher:

The UK government defines a researcher as an individual conducting an investigation into a problem or situation, where the intention is to identify facts and/or opinions that will assist in solving the problem or tackling the situation.

A researcher may be working independently or as part of team. You need to apply for an ATAS certificate if research is being conducted at PhD level or above. PhD students should apply through the student route, not researcher route.

The main ATAS guidance suggests the individual is not required to apply for a new ATAS certificate:

If you are a researcher already in the UK
You do not need to apply for an ATAS certificate if you:

  • are already conducting research in the UK

In fact, the guidance does not mention any requirement to apply for a new ATAS certificate simply because the year is up. Searching the entire page by the keyword 'year' yields two irrelevant results: one on how long your referee has known you, the other on studying in courses with an integrated masters year. Searching the entire page with '12' or 'twelve' yields no results.

There are several exceptions to the above as an academic. The most common reason that requires a fresh ATAS certificate is a change in employment circumstances - moving institutions, additional appointments, change in the research field and/or location, etc. The following sections in the main ATAS guidance provide further details. Another common reason is that the individual requires renewing or switching to a new visa.

  • What does that "change in the research field" exception exactly mean? A lecturer may have been involved in research topics associated with different research grants. Do they have to apply for a new ATAS every time they are supposed to participate in the (different) research of a new grant?
    – user41207
    Nov 6, 2022 at 18:50
  • 1
    @User If the research goes beyond the scope of research statement approved by ATAS, it is a significant change that may require new ATAS.
    – xngtng
    Nov 6, 2022 at 19:10
  • @xngtng: Who is in charge to decide about that scope and its potential stretch?
    – user41207
    Nov 6, 2022 at 21:48
  • 1
    @User it's between the university and the researcher, subject to ATAS approval.
    – xngtng
    Nov 7, 2022 at 8:04

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