Immigration legislation

  • Immigration law sets out the many different categories of people who are allowed to enter the UK and the conditions of their stay.

  • People claiming asylum may eventually be granted refugee status, ‘humanitarian protection’ or ‘discretionary leave’.

There is one body of immigration law for the whole of the UK with no regional or national variations. The immigration laws are implemented by the Home Office. The current immigration system finds most of its roots in the Immigration Act 1971 which has repeatedly been modified by subsequent legislation, of which the most recent is Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009. However, parts of this act, notably the sections that make changes to existing nationality law, have not yet been implemented.

Immigration Rules set out the different categories of people who will be allowed to enter or remain in the UK, and conditions of their entry and stay, for example whether and how much they can work and their permitted length of stay. These rules are regularly updated and changed. The most recent consolidated version is called HC 395 which has itself been amended many times, most recently by HC 244.

Only British citizens and Commonwealth citizens with the right of abode, as well as nationals of member states of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, and their dependants, whether EEA nationals or not, are entitled to enter the UK. All other people are “subject to immigration control” and need permission to enter and stay.1

The rules allow people to enter or remain in the UK for a myriad of reasons including as visitors, students, workers, business people, retired persons, innovators, highly skilled migrants, asylum seekers and many more. There are detailed rules allowing family members of people already here to join them. These include provision for spouses and for unmarried partners, including same-sex partners, where a relationship has existed for at least two years. The rules contain nothing specific on people with HIV.

People may breach the conditions of their leave, by overstaying, working without permission, or changing the activity for which they were given leave.



  1. Home Office Immigration Rules., 2010
This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.
Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap