LC: Improved drafting of Immigration Rules to save Government £70 million

14 Jan 2020 10:34 AM

Improvements to the way that Immigration Rules are written and presented would make them easier to follow for applicants and save the Government almost £70 million over ten years.

This is according to the Law Commission, the independent law reform agency, that published its report on the Simplification of the Immigration Rules today.

The report, which does not make any recommendations around substantive immigration policy, recommends a complete redrafting of the Rules with the aim of creating simplified and more easily accessible Rules that offer increased legal certainty and transparency for applicants.

The recommended changes include improvements to how the Rules are structured, drafted and maintained, and include a twice-yearly limit to updates to the Rules. The improvements extend to how the Rules interact with supporting guidance and application forms.

The report also recommends that the Home Office consider introducing a less prescriptive approach to evidence required from applicants. The overly-detailed approach has led to an increasing number of amendments to the Rules, making them more difficult to follow. By reducing the level of detail and prescription, there is a reduced need for frequent amendment.

The recommendations would help to build trust, increase public confidence and bring reputational benefit to the UK internationally. For the Home Office, financial savings worth almost £70 million over ten years would derive from fewer mistakes and speedier decision-making, a resulting potential reduction in administrative reviews, appeals and judicial reviews, and from a system which is easier to maintain.

Why change is needed

In recent years, a policy of making the Rules more prescriptive has been implemented, with an intention to produce more transparent outcomes for applicants. However, this has made the Rules longer, more complicated and harder to follow. For example:

The Rules have also been criticised for being poorly drafted and hard to follow for users. The structure of the Rules is confusing and the numbering system is inconsistent. There is duplication between different types of application and unnecessary repetition or near-repetition within these categories.

These issues make it difficult for applicants to correctly follow the Rules.

Recommendations for reform

The Law Commission’s recommendations will make the Rules and supporting guidance easier to navigate and understand, reducing the likelihood of mistakes by applicants and case workers and improving the future administration and drafting of the Rules over the long term.

Recommended changes to improve the accessibility and transparency of the Rules include:

Suggested approach to evidence:

Recommended changes to the administration of the Rules include:

Nicholas Paines QC, Public Law Commissioner said:

“For both applicants and case workers, the drafting of the Immigration Rules and frequent updates makes them too difficult to follow. This has resulted in mistakes that waste time and cost taxpayer money.

“By improving the drafting, restructuring the layout and removing inconsistencies, our recommendations will make a real difference by saving money and increasing public confidence in the rules.

Find out more, read the report and summary here.