The Law Commission, the independent statutory body tasked with reviewing the law of England and Wales and recommending reform where it considers necessary launched a consultation on 21 January 2019 aimed at reviewing the Immigration Rules (“the Rules”) to make them simpler and more accessible. The Commission noted that the Rules have grown in size from 40 pages in 1973 to around 1,100 pages today, becoming increasingly complex and unmanageable.
The Commission’s consultation paper aims to provide a more logical structure to the Rules, remove unnecessary repetition and make them easier to navigate. The consultation paper also provides a detailed proposal on how the Rules could be redrafted, along with suggestions on how the revised Rules could look. The paper sets out 54 questions, which have been made open to the public, with the Commission inviting responses to their proposals until 26 April 2019.
Although the Commission provides suggestions on how to simplify and clarify both the structure and content of the Rules, it does not propose any changes to the existing application requirements and legal provisions. However, should any of the proposed changes ultimately be accepted, this could lead to practical changes to the application process.
The Rules have been criticised many times by judges, immigration practitioners and by the Law Society in official statements. The Law Society went as far as to say that “the current state of the Rulesundermine the Rule of Law” due to their complexity and inaccessibility.
The project of simplifying the Immigration Rules began in December 2017 and should conclude later this year, after the Commission has assessed the results of the consultation and delivered its recommendations in a final report.
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