Sources of immigration law
Sources of immigration law

The following Immigration guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Sources of immigration law
  • The importance of primary sources of the law
  • Hierarchy of the sources of law
  • Statutes
  • Secondary legislation including statutory instruments, regulations, procedural rules and practice directions
  • Immigration Rules
  • Timeline of policy and legislative changes affecting migration to the UK
  • Home Office instructions and guidance
  • Case law
  • European law
  • more

There are multiple sources of immigration law. In addition to 16 or so statutes and the ever-changing Immigration Rules, there is a huge number of statutory instruments, procedural rules and regulations, instructions and guidance issued by the Home Office plus a large volume of case law that, together with relevant European and international law, make up the body of immigration law.

The importance of primary sources of the law

Although the GOV.UK website is a major source of information on immigration policy and law, Home Office policy instructions and guidance should not be relied on alone as an accurate statement of the law. Further, given how easily and frequently changes are made to the Immigration Rules and how provisions in statutes are often fleshed out in secondary legislation, it is vital that primary sources of law are consulted.

Hierarchy of the sources of law

Not all sources of law carry equal weight and authority before a court. How much authority a particular legal source carries will depend on its interpretation by the court and the circumstances of the particular case. A definitive hierarchy of sources, then, cannot be given but, as a rule of thumb, the following ranking of sources of immigration law applies (the sources are listed in descending order of importance):

  1. UK statutes, some European legislation and