Why Is The Government Checking The Immigration Status Of Bank Account Holders?

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The Law Of… Complying With Immigration Law

Following the news that banks and building societies will carry out immigration status checks on millions of bank account holders, Ashley Stothard, Paralegal in Immigration Law, answers 5 key questions about what this could mean for you.


Why Are The Banks Doing These Immigration Status Checks?

These bank checks were introduced under the Immigration Act 2016 as part of the Government's plans to make it tougher for people who are in the UK unlawfully to continue living and working here.

Who Will Be Affected By This?

Banks and building societies will be given a list of people who are known to be in the UK illegally. Under the Immigration Act 2016, they will have to carry out regular checks to ensure these individuals aren't operating bank accounts.

They will also have to refuse your application for a new current account if you're in the UK and need to have leave to enter or leave to remain and don't have permission to be in the UK.

Your application could be refused if you:

  • Have never had leave to enter or leave to remain (if you came to the UK unlawfully)
  • Had leave to enter the UK but this expired or it was taken away
  • Are an EU national with a deportation or exclusion order

You will be affected by this if:

  • You have used your right to appeal and have no outstanding appeals
  • You could be removed or deported from the UK

What Will Happen To My Account If I Don’t Have A Right To Reside In The UK?

If a bank or building society discovers that you're in the UK illegally, they have a responsibility to inform the Home Office about this and freeze your account.

Depending on the situation, under the Immigration Act 2016 the Home Office can:

  • Ask the bank or building society to close your account (or accounts). This step will be taken in routine cases to stop a migrant from being able to stay in the UK and encourage them to leave on a voluntary basis.
  • Ask the courts to freeze your current account until you agree to leave the UK.
  • Prosecute you for the new criminal offence of working in the UK illegally and recovering wages as proceeds of crime.

Will I Still Be Able To Access My Funds When My Account Is Frozen?

You will have limited access to your bank account for living and legal expenses. The amount of money you will be able to access will be determined by the courts.

What Can I Do If The Home Office Or Bank Have Made A Mistake?

If your account has been mistakenly frozen or closed, it's important to contact the Home Office as soon as possible and provide them with evidence of your lawful immigration status.

If you have the right to live and work in the UK, the Home Office should update your details so that you can access your account again or make an application to open a current account.

How Can Simpson Millar's Immigration Solicitors Help Me?

If you're concerned about how these checks could affect you or need some advice about your immigration status, get in touch with our immigration experts.

We can help you with making an application for leave to remain.

If you have made an immigration application that's been refused by the Home Office and would like to appeal against it, we can assist. We can also offer you support with a judicial review.

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