In response to the war in Ukraine, the UK government has launched two bespoke immigration routes for Ukrainian nationals forced to flee their homes: the Ukraine Family Scheme and the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.
The Ukraine Family Scheme allows British citizens or settled persons in the UK to sponsor their immediate and extended family members to come to the UK from Ukraine.
The Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme allows Ukrainian nationals and their immediate family members to come to the UK where they have an approved UK sponsor who is willing to provide them with accommodation for up to six months.
Under both schemes, successful applicants will be granted permission to live in the UK for up to three years. During the three-year period of leave, visa holders are permitted to work and study in the UK and access public funds.
This means that Ukrainian nationals with immigration permission under these routes will be able to study in the UK without needing to obtain sponsorship from a licensed student sponsor, as is usually the case under the UK’s Student route.
However, according to the Home Office Ukraine Scheme guidance, permission to study in the UK is subject to the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS). This means that Ukrainian visa holders may need to apply for an ATAS certificate before they can commence their studies.
The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) applies to all international students and researchers (apart from exempt nationalities) who are subject to UK immigration control and are intending to study or research at postgraduate level in certain sensitive subjects.
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 subjects must apply for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate before they can study or start research in the UK.
ATAS certificates are issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and give you the security clearance to study sensitive subjects. UK immigration law does not allow universities to permit international students or researchers to study or undertake research in an ATAS applicable course until the student or researcher has provided the university or research institute with the correct ATAS certificate.
To check if you need an ATAS certificate you will need to know the CAH3 code that applies to your course or research. Your Higher Education Institute (HEI) or employer will either include this on your official offer letter or will be able to confirm it for you separately. Once you have the CAH3 code for your course, you can use the online tool to check if you need an ATAS certificate.
You should apply for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate online. As part of your application, you will be asked to provide further information including (but not limited to) your previous studies, previous and current employment (if applicable), optional modules you might take in a taught Masters, and the full names and contact details of 2 referees.
It will usually take at least 20 working days (4 full weeks) to process a student ATAS application. Processing times will increase between April and September. During this peak period, it can take 30 or more working days to complete.
It will take at least 10 working days (2 full weeks) to process a researcher ATAS application. Between April and September it can take 15 or more working days to complete.
To ensure fairness and consistency, applications are processed in order of receipt. There is no ‘fast track’ service available, therefore you should submit your ATAS application as early as possible.