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Introduction to UK immigration law and becoming an immigration advisor
Introduction to UK immigration law and becoming an immigration advisor

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6 Immigration Rules

The Immigration Rules have a unique legal status and are different to secondary legislation. Understanding these Rules and their role is fundamental, because they regulate who is granted entry clearance and/or leave to enter or remain the UK.

The Rules stem from powers granted to the Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD, more often shortened to Home Secretary) under the Immigration Act 1971, as noted in Section 3(2):

  1. The Secretary of State shall from time to time (and as soon as may be) lay before Parliament statements of the rules, or of any changes in the rules, laid down by him as to the practice to be followed in the administration of this Act for regulating the entry into and stay in the United Kingdom of persons required by this Act to have leave to enter, including any rules as to the period for which leave is to be given and the conditions to be attached in different circumstances; and section 1(4) above shall not be taken to require uniform provision to be made by the rules as regards admission of persons for a purpose or in a capacity specified in section 1(4) (and in particular, for this as well as other purposes of this Act, account may be taken of citizenship or nationality).

    If a statement laid before either House of Parliament under this subsection is disapproved by a resolution of that House passed within the period of forty days beginning with the date of laying (and exclusive of any period during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued or during which both Houses are adjourned for more than four days), then the Secretary of State shall as soon as may be make such changes or further changes in the rules as appear to him to be required in the circumstances, so that the statement of those changes be laid before Parliament at latest by the end of the period of forty days beginning with the date of the resolution (but exclusive as aforesaid).

(, 1971)

Where the Home Secretary stipulates that certain requirements must be met in order to succeed in an application made under the Immigration Rules, all those requirements, including the requirement to provide specified evidence in support of the application, must appear within the Immigration Rules themselves.

The Home Secretary retains discretion, in individual cases, to allow entry outside the Rules.

The Immigration Rules can be challenged through Judicial Review on the grounds of:

  • illegality, which includes breach of rights under the ECHR
  • irrationality
  • procedural impropriety.