Banks start with immigration checks on millions of accounts

Under the new government scheme, Banks and building societies have started carrying out checks on the immigration status of all personal current account holders to crackdown illegal immigrant.

A new legislation was introduced in the beginning of 2018 to impose the duty on banks and building societies. The aim of this new legislation is to create a “hostile environment” for those in the UK unlawfully. The Government believes as many as 6,000 illegal migrants could be booted out of the country as a result.

In a statement, the new Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said: “These new measures are part of our commitment to make it more difficult for people with no right to live or work in the UK to remain here.”

She added: “This will not affect those who live in the UK legally but we must be firm with those who break the rules as illegal immigration impacts the whole of society.”
Under this new system, banks and building societies have to inform the Home Office once they identify a personal current account operated by an illegal migrant. The Home Office will then instruct the bank or building society on the "action to take", "which may include closing the account".

The Home Office said it was only sharing details of illegal migrants who are liable for deportation from the UK, or who have absconded from immigration control.  People with outstanding applications or appeals will not be affected – including asylum seekers – nor will those who have been granted leave to be in the UK, including refugees.

This measure to crackdown illegal immigrants has been criticised by campaigners. Chai Patel, legal policy director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, claimed the Home Office frequently makes mistakes determining immigration status.

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