The Law Commission has released its consultation paper on the reformation of the current Immigration Rules, noting that they have grown from 40 pages in 1973 to 1,133 in 2019, including approximately quadrupling in length over the last decade.
The Immigration Act 1971 provided for a set of Immigration Rules to be laid down and amended by the Secretary of State, detailing the standard practice on immigration, but the number of amendments has meant that the current document has grown to become very complex, and includes unnecessary duplications.
The government has asked the Law Commission to simplify these Immigration Rules, which have grown by almost 1,100 pages in nearly 50 years. The Commission, made up of experienced judges, legal practitioners, and academics, is frequently asked to deliberate on legal issues and policies and propose updates.
Senior judges have described the current Rules as ‘poorly drafted’. The Commission also states that the structure of the Rules is confusing and that the numbering system is inconsistent. The enormity of the Rules is compounded by the number of their supporting documents. The review is hoped to make the Rules more accessible and easier to follow for applicants and the Home Office. While the Commission has noted that length is not necessarily synonymous with complexity, it is very likely that the simplification will lead to a much smaller rulebook.
The Commission has highlighted the need for the Rules to be accessible for ‘non-expert readers’. They have further raised the issue of the Immigration Rules from an access to justice viewpoint, saying, “these issues make it difficult for applicants to correctly follow the Rules. It can therefore be necessary to get expensive legal advice in order to correctly navigate the system.”
The Commission will not consider substantive immigration law policy, but merely the formal redrafting of the Rules themselves.
Law Commissioner for Public Law, Nicholas Paines QC, said:
“As the Immigration Rules have become longer, more detailed and more specific, they’ve also become more complicated and harder to follow for applicants.
“The Home Office has asked us to help put things right. Our proposals would introduce clearer language, and improve the presentation of the Rules so they’re easier to understand and follow.
“We seek the public’s views on how to make the Immigration Rules simpler and more accessible.”
The consultation closes on the 26th April 2019, and can be found here.
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