Immigration Offences

Closed 12 Jun 2024

Opened 20 Mar 2024


Why Immigration offences?

This consultation seeks views on a draft of the first dedicated sentencing guidelines for immigration offences under the Immigration Act 1971 and the Identity Documents Act 2010. 

There are currently no definitive guidelines for these offences.

The draft guidelines cover the 1971 Act offences of Facilitation (assisting unlawful immigration to the UK and helping asylum - seekers to enter the UK) (section 25 and 25A); Deception (section 24A); Breach of Deportation Order (section 24(A1)); Knowingly entering the UK without leave (section 24(B1)), and Knowingly arriving in the UK without valid entry clearance (section 24(D1)).

The draft guidelines also cover the 2010 offences of possession of false identity documents with improper intention (section 4) and possession of false identity documents without reasonable excuse (section 6).

There are many more immigration offences that could have been included however the Council has chosen to focus on the higher volume, more serious offences.

A number of changes have been made to the Immigration Act 1971 by the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 (NABA).

NABA increased the statutory maximum penalty for the Facilitation offences (section 25 and 25A) raising it from 14 years to life imprisonment.

The Act also amended the offences of breach of a deportation order (section 24(A1)) and knowingly enters the UK without leave (section 24(B1)), increasing the statutory maximum sentences from 6 months to 5 years and 4 years respectively.

In addition, a number of new offences were created including knowingly arriving in the UK without valid entry clearance (section 24(D1)) which was given a maximum sentence of 4 years.

What is the Council consulting about?

The Council has produced this consultation paper in order to seek views from as many people as possible interested in the sentencing of immigration offences.

However, it is important to clarify that the Council is consulting on sentencing guidelines for these offences and not the legislation upon which such offences are based. The relevant legislation is a matter for Parliament and is, therefore, outside the scope of this exercise.

Responding to the consultation

Through this consultation process, the Council is seeking views on:

  • the principal factors that make any of the offences included within the draft guidelines more or less serious;

  • the additional factors that should influence the sentence;

  • the types and lengths of sentence that should be passed; and

  • anything else you think should be considered.

Approach to the guidelines

In preparing the guidelines, the Council has had regard to the purposes of sentencing and to its statutory duties. The Council’s aim is to ensure that all sentences are proportionate to the offence committed and in relation to other offences.

Applicability of guidelines

When issued as definitive guidelines following consultation the guidelines will apply only to offenders aged 18 and older. General principles to be considered in the sentencing of children and young people are set out in the Sentencing Council’s definitive guideline, Overarching Principles – Sentencing Children and Young People.



  • Citizens
  • Charities
  • Voluntary organisations
  • Government departments
  • Legal professionals
  • Judiciary
  • Immigration removal centre staff
  • Police
  • Prosecutors
  • Offenders
  • Victims
  • Legal professional bodies
  • Think tanks
  • Academics
  • UK policy institutions
  • EU policy institutions
  • UK politicians
  • Journalists


  • Criminal justice
  • Law
  • Access to justice
  • UK Law