Why are Immigration Rules so complex?



Just as a sport cannot be played fairly without knowing the rules, so it cannot be possible to live fairly without knowing the law, or at least have the option to find out what it is.

While UK’s immigration law is possible to find it is not user friendly, clear, predictable or intelligible.

The main problem is finding out what it actually says

Lord Neuberger, outgoing President of the Supreme Court, said to the Australian Bar Association in July 2017 that it is a fundamental requirement that all laws are freely accessible and clearly expressed. In other words, the people should be able to know or at least be able to find out what the law is.

And here lies the problem the repeated re-amendment of the underlying legislative provisions of immigration law is scattered around Acts of Parliament from 1971, 1988, 1999, 2002,2 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2014 and 2016 (and the trend will not stop). The older acts are amended and re-amended, changed repeatedly.

Granted the original versions are readily available through the government website (or just a simple google search away). However, the most current amended versions may not be ready from the day they are announced.

Migrants, lawyers and judges are faced with a mountain of laws and regulations that are not set out in a non-sequential fashion. Th rules are scattered and at time difficult to comprehend and harder to explain to a person with no legal background.

The Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules

For instance, the Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules applies to family members and is arguably one of the most important section of the rules because it is clear. However, while the requirements are clear the problem is it cross-references other sections of the immigration rule without mention. How can a person with no immigration training be expected to find the answers to various questions?

Over the years the scenario of the general public not being to understand what the Immigration Rules are about are growing to a resounding confusion. This is a huge problem, which is unlikely to be remedied by Parliament.

There have been case where senior judges of UK court have condemned the complexity of UK immigration law. For instance, Lord Justice Jackson has stated that the “provisions have now achieved a degree of complexity which even the Byzantine emperors would have envied.”

There have been efforts in the past to simplify immigration rules in 2007 and 2009 however, these ideas were ultimately abandoned. It is blatantly obvious that these changes are made on purpose to reduce net migration flow to the UK. A migrant, EEA or UK national now need constant help from lawyers to approach these cases safely or at least obtain higher chances of success.


Tags: Britain Immigration

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