Last October, the Home Office implemented provisions to enable UK banks and building societies to carry out checks on existing current accounts in a bid to create a ‘hostile environment’ for illegal immigrants who are liable for removal, deportation or have otherwise absconded from immigration control. Powers to stop illegal immigrants from opening new current accounts were previously introduced under the Immigration Act 2014 (“the 2014 Act”). See our previous blog.
On 12 January 2018 the Home Office confirmed that the first of the estimated 70 million checks had commenced with CIFAS, the anti-fraud agency. The recently appointed Minister for Immigration Caroline Noakes said, "This will not affect those who are in the UK legally but we must be firm with those who break the rules, as illegal immigration impacts the whole of society."
Despite the reassurance it is still evitable that legal immigrants in the UK may be affected by these measures in error. According to Home Office guidance published on 29 January 2018, your bank or building society should inform you if your application for a current account is refused or your current account is closed under the 2014 Act. The guidance also states that if you believe that action has been taken in error, you should contact the Home Office with evidence of your lawful immigration status. Once the Home Office has verified your right to be in the UK they will change your details so that you can re-apply or re-open your current account. However, it is noted that the Home Office have still failed to specify how long this process may take to resolve.
If you are a foreign national who has received a notification from your bank or building society and you need advice do not hesitate to contact a member of our team.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.