08:17, January 21 248 0 theguardian.com

2019-01-21 08:17:04
Plan to simplify UK's 1,100 pages of immigration rules

People would be able to more easily understand the UK’s immigration rules under a proposed shakeup of the regulations by the government’s law advisers that would simplify the current 1,100 pages of regulations.

The Law Commission, which reviews and recommends changes to legislation, is to consult on a range of proposals on the immigration rules, which set out the policy and practice of the home secretary in regulating the entry and stay of people in the UK.

The proposals include an audit of overlapping rules and a limit to the number of times a year the rules are changed. The Home Office has sponsored the independent body to complete the project, which will not consider any issue of substantive immigration policy.

The commission believes simpler rules would increase transparency for applicants and lead to quicker decision-making by Home Office caseworkers.

Critics, including senior judges and lawyers, frequently criticise the labyrinthine rules for being repetitive, archaic and hard to navigate for people looking to move, work, study, visit or seek asylum in the UK.

Since their introduction in 1973, the rules have grown from 40 pages to 1,100, and in the last 10 years have almost quadrupled in length.

An exercise by the Guardian last year revealed Home Office officials had made more than 5,700 changes to the immigration rules since 2010.

The 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, which starts on 21 January, will examine a range of potential improvements including the standardisation of wording to reduce the possibility of confusion.

The commission has asked whether, except in urgent cases, changes to rules should be limited to two common commencement dates a year and whether headings, the inclusion of definitions and section numbering could be done with a uniform approach.

The body will also investigate whether technology could improve an applicant’s experience, such as through the online presentation of the rules including an initial route map, and interactive tools to guide them through the application process and alert them if the application is defective in any way.

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