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 report on Simplifying the Immigration Rules. The Government responded to our report on 25 March 2020. You can find their response at the bottom of this page.

Download our report on Simplifying the Immigration Rules here.

Download the summary of the report here.

Download the Welsh summary of the report here.

Download a quick read illustrated summary of the report 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. In 2019 the Rules totalled over 1100 pages in length and their drafting is poor.

The project

The project considered 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.  Our consultation paper was published on 21 January 2019.  It reviewed the 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.

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.


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 KC