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

We have published our consultation paper on Simplifying the Immigration Rules. The consultation period is now closed and we are analysing the responses.

Download our consultation paper on Simplifying the Immigration Rules here.

Download the summary of the consultation paper here.

Download the Welsh summary of the consultation paper here.

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 31 December 2018, the Rules totalled 1133 pages in length and their drafting is poor.

The project

The project  considers how the Rules can be made simpler and more accessible to the user.

It officially started on 13 December 2017 with the launch of the Commission’s 13th programme of law reform.

We held a range of pre-consultation meetings with key stakeholders and other experts, and with the Home Office as the sponsoring department for the project.  The  consultation paper was published on 21 January 2019.

Our consultation paper reviews the Immigration Rules to identify the underlying causes of their complexity, and to develop principles under which they can be redrafted to make them simpler and more accessible.

It makes a number of preliminary proposals to pave the way for the introduction and maintenance of clear, comprehensible and logically organised Rules, and asks whether consultees agree. It also seeks the views of consultees on more open questions.

The paper also includes specimen redrafting of some of the Rules.

It does not consider substantive immigration policy.

Next steps

The consultation period is now closed. We are currently analysing the results of the consultation and we aim to deliver recommendations in a final report later in 2019.


If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone: 020 3334 0200 or by email:

Documents and downloads

Project details

Area of law

Public law


Nicholas Paines QC