It has been revealed that the Home Office officials have made more than 5,700 changes to the immigration rules since 2010. According to senior judges and lawyers this change has made the visa system almost impossible to navigate. The rules used to consist of 145,000 words and now have been doubled in length to 375,000 words resulting in a more of a complex system and many officials are asking for a radical overhaul.
In 2012 more then 1,300 changed were made alone coinciding with Theresa May’s introduction of the hostile environment policy when she was home secretary.
One document was published in March 2014 with 22 changes, only to be superseded three days later by a second version containing another 250 changes. The overall number of changes made to the rules since 2010 spans almost 600,000 words.
Immigration barristers have said that the rules have become so precise and complicated that it would be essential for applicants to hire a lawyer and forcing applicants to pay a high amount of legal fees.
The immigration and asylum barrister Colin Yeo said “The frequency of the changes mean it’s very difficult to keep on top of them,” Yeo said. “You have to read everything that’s coming out and it’s very hard to be certain you’ve captured every single change that might be relevant to your clients. The changes are often hurried out, which means they can be badly written. They can be very difficult to understand, even for judges and lawyers. We’ve seen a number of errors in drafting that have to be corrected in later versions.”
Nicholas Paines QC, a law commissioner said: “In recent years there has been a policy of making the rules more detailed and specific.
“The intention was to produce more transparent outcomes for applicants. But inevitably, this has made the rules longer and more detailed, and the risk is that the objective of transparency is defeated.
“The Home Office want us to help put things right. We’re looking at introducing clearer, plainer language and how the rules are presented on the internet for applicants.”
Analysis shows many of the changes have focused on employment status and earnings in applications for work visas.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The number of individual changes to immigration rules should not be used as an indicator of the number of policy changes. Many changes to the rules involve minor corrections, such as changes to individual words.
“Changes to the immigration rules are made for a variety of reasons, including to deliver critical policies that support broader government priorities including health and the economy, and to respond to the needs of those who use immigration services. They are laid in parliament and significant changes are communicated to stakeholders.”