Tier 5 GAE- pupillage, mini pupillage and chambers placements

Immigration support for non EEA nationals wishing to undertake pupillages (which do not lead to practice in the UK), mini-pupillages or short-term placements in chambers.

The Bar Council is licensed by the UK Visas and Immigration as a Government Approved Sponsor under Tier 5 of the points-based system for work-related immigration (Government Approved Exchange). This means it is able to offer non-EEA individuals who wish to come to the UK to undertake pupillage or short term placements in chambers, assistance with their immigration. It does this by issuing certificates of sponsorship (COS) to individuals that are able to meet the Bar Council's applicant criteria and supply all of the documents detailed below at the time of application. A COS is necessary for the Tier 5 visa application.

 If you have any queries please email the Bar Council Immigration inbox or call 0207 611 1329.

Click on the tabs below for more information on applicant criteria and how to apply for Tier 5 sponsorship.

Applicant criteria

To apply for a certificate of sponsorship the non European Economic Area (EEA) national must be located outside the UK at the time of application and:

  1. Have been offered funded or unfunded (and in the case of unfunded, has been granted a funded pupillage waiver by the Bar Standards Board) pupillage by barristers' chambers), OR,

  2. Have been offered a mini-pupillage within barristers' chambers, OR, 

  3. Be undertaking a Bar Council training programme, OR, 

  4. Have been granted a Fellowship in the UK by a Foundation or Association (e.g. the Inns of Court) whose programme is approved by Bar Council.

Please note that the Bar Council can only assist individuals who fit within one of the four situations outlined above. The Bar Council is not authorised to assist individuals who wish to enter the UK for any other purpose and cannot respond to queries from such individuals. For specialist immigration advice please contact a qualified immigration lawyer, or the UK Visas and Immigration.

Application documents

  1. A completed and signed application form.
  2. A signed letter from chambers, on headed paper, confirming the offer of pupillage or mini-pupillage, specifying the pupil's name, date of birth and passport number, the start and end date of pupillage and whether it is funded or unfunded.
  3. If the pupillage is exempt from the funding requirement (i.e. unfunded), a copy of the Bar Standards Board's funded pupillage waiver. You do not need to submit this document if you are applying for a mini-pupillage.
  4. A scan or photocopy of the photo page of your passport.
  5. Payment  of £190.00 or £330.00 (dependant on your stay within the UK) by credit/debit card or by bank transfer. Please refer to the payment instructions.

Application process

  1. Check you meet the UK Visas and Immigration criteria for Tier 5 (Government Approved Exchange), in particular the requirement to demonstrate that you have at least £945 of personal savings which must have been held for at least a consecutive 90 day period ending no earlier than one calendar month before the date of application, and can supply them with all the necessary documents when you apply to them. For further details please click here.
  2. Check you meet the Bar Council's applicant criteria and can provide the supporting documents required by the Bar Council (as outlined above).
  3. If you meet the Bar Council's applicant criteria and can provide the supporting documents, complete the application form and submit it with all necessary supporting documents and payment of the non-refundable application fee of £190.00 or £330.00 to Member Services, The General Council of the Bar, 289-293 High Holborn, London WC1V 7HZ. Information on how to make the £190.00 payment is available here. In exceptional circumstances, the Bar Council would consider reducing the Tier 5 administration fee for those who are in financial difficulty. Applications can be made in writing to Member Services at the Bar Council.
  4. Your application will be considered by the Bar Council who will aim to inform you of the outcome of your application within approximately two weeks following submission of satisfactory receipt of all required materials.
  5. If successful, you will be emailed a certificate of sponsorship (COS), a unique 11 digit reference number. You will then need to make an application to the UK Visas and Immigration for leave to enter under Tier 5 (Government Approved Exchange) and quote the CoS number on your application form. A COS is valid for 3 months from the date it was assigned. If you do not use the COS within this period to apply for entry clearance or leave to remain, it automatically becomes invalid. During this period a migrant intending to come to the UK under Tier 5 cannot be assigned another COS by any other sponsor. Please also note, the fact that a COS has been issued does not guarantee that the migrant will be successful in obtaining entry clearance or leave to remain.
  6. If granted leave to enter or remain from the UKVI you must visit the Bar Council within a week of arrival in the UK to allow the Bar Council to make copies of your passport (including evidence of their leave to remain in the UK) and UK biometric card.