Immigration support


Self-employed individuals are currently unable to be granted Tier 2 visas in the UK's immigration system. To enable suitably qualified non-European economic area nationals to train and practise at the Bar of England and Wales, the Bar Council negotiated a special licence with the UKVI (then UKBA) in 2011. The Bar Council operates as a Licenced Sponsor on behalf of the UKVI, and is therefore able to provide visas for pupils and tenants working in chambers in England & Wales provided that they and the chambers meet a variety of qualifying criteria (please see Eligibility" in the next page).

Tier 2 visas are available to: 

In addition to these, the Bar Council is also able to sponsor visas for individuals aiming to spend a short amount of time studying or undertaking non-remunerated work in the UK under a Tier 5 visa. These visas are available to:

The Bar Council is only able to act as a sponsor for pupils and tenants in chambers (not in any other outfit of the legal sector). 

The Bar Council is the migrant's sponsor, but the chambers is fully responsible for ensuring that the migrant is indeed working as expected (the purpose of the visa, as specified in the certificate of sponsorship) and that the resident labour market has been tested if this is required. Please see the section entitled "Eligibility" on the next page and the UKVI guidance here for further information. 

The individuals requiring specialist immigration advice should contact an immigration lawyer, or the UK Visas and Immigration. The Bar Council is neither able to nor allowed to provide any sort of advice which could be construed as immigration advice. Our remit is restricted to the application of the UKVI Tier 2 and Tier 5 regulation insofar as it is applied to the Bar and the professional environment of self-employed barristers.

The full guidance of Tier 2 and Tier 5 may not be sufficient for a migrant, prospective migrant or chambers to comprehend their compliance requirements and the Bar Council's obligations. This is because the Bar Council's special sponsor licence requires that the terms of reference of Tier 2 be adapted to the professional definitions and frameworks of the Bar of England & Wales. You are encouraged as a migrant, prospective migrant and/or chambers to contact the Bar Council if you have any queries, and indeed to ensure that you do not solely rely on the Tier 2 guidance, which may not reflect the way in which the Bar Council will apply the principles contained in the UKVI guidance as applicable to the Bar of England & Wales.