On Tuesday 14th January, the Law Commission noted that reforms in the “overly complex and unworkable” immigration rules can result in the government saving almost £70m over the next 10 years. According to the Commission, which advises ministers on updating the law the regulations have quadrupled in length since 2010 and are “comprehensively criticised for being poorly drafted”.
Immigration rules ran to 40 pages when introduced initially in 1973 and now extend across 1,100. Making them more prescriptive was intended to produce more transparent outcomes but instead rendered them harder to follow, the study observes. Immigration regulations have an impact on millions of lives every year, the report accepts. “Their structure is confusing and numbering inconsistent. Provisions overlap with identical or near identical wording. The drafting style, often including multiple cross-references, can be impenetrable. The frequency of change fuels complexity.”
Nicholas Paines QC, the public law commissioner, in a statement 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.”
The report recommends a complete redrafting of the rules, dividing them up by subject matter and limiting the number of updates to twice a year.