Simplifying the Immigration Rules

Current project status

  • Initiation: Could include discussing scope and terms of reference with lead Government Department
  • Pre-consultation: Could include approaching interest groups and specialists, producing scoping and issues papers, finalising terms of project
  • Consultation: Likely to include consultation events and paper, making provisional proposals for comment
  • Policy development: Will include analysis of consultation responses. Could include further issues papers and consultation on draft Bill
  • Reported: Usually recommendations for law reform but can be advice to government, scoping report or other recommendations

Making the Immigration Rules simpler and more accessible. This project is ongoing.

The problem

Hundreds of thousands of decisions are made annually under the Immigration Rules. Decisions which can be life changing for those seeking entry or leave to remain in the UK and their families.

But the Rules are widely criticised for being long, complex, and difficult to use. On 1 May 2017, the Rules totalled 1096 pages in length and their drafting is poor.

Many provisions are duplicated, cross references are often incomplete and some parts are incomprehensible.

The project

This project came out of our 13th Programme of Law Reform.

Our project will not involve any substantive policy changes or any new legislation. It will instead consider how the Rules can be made simpler and more accessible to the user.

Having analysed the Rules and met stakeholders, we are currently in the process of producing a consultation paper.

Next steps

We will consult on our proposed changes in 2018 before reporting on or around the new year in 2019.

Project details

Area of law

Public law


Nicholas Paines QC