Locating guidance and using archives for immigration research

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

  • Locating guidance and using archives for immigration research
  • Locating Home Office guidance
  • Applicant guidance
  • Sponsor guidance
  • Home Office internal guidance
  • Locating previous versions of guidance
  • Using the guidance archive in Lexis®PSL Immigration
  • Using the consolidated Immigration Rules in the Butterworths Immigration Law Service
  • Using the GOV.UK website: Immigration Rules and timeline
  • Using the National Archives

Locating guidance and using archives for immigration research

This Practice Note explains how to locate current Home Office guidance relating to immigration and nationality law matters; and how to use the guidance archive in Lexis®PSL Immigration, the GOV.UK website and the National Archives for conducting research relating to superseded immigration law and policy.

Locating Home Office guidance

There are various types of Home Office immigration and nationality guidance published on GOV.UK, and these are split between guidance documents for:

  1. applicants

  2. sponsor businesses and education institutions, and

  3. Home Office decision-makers/other relevant staff members

It can be necessary to locate previous versions of Home Office guidance in order to:

  1. check the guidance in force as at the date of a sponsor/applicant act or omission, and

  2. pinpoint changes in guidance wording

Applicant guidance

Prior to the introduction of the post-Brexit immigration system, the main form of detailed guidance for applicants in many categories of entry and stay was a PDF policy guidance document. However, since 1 December 2020 the Home Office has switched to primarily providing detailed applicant guidance via the relevant category ‘tool’ on GOV.UK (and no longer provides PDF applicant guidance for many categories).

These tools can be located using the relevant browser:

  1. EU, EEA and Commonwealth citizens—this includes links to the EU Settlement Scheme tool

  2. Visit the UK

  3. Study in the UK

  4. Work in the UK, and

  5. Family in the UK


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