Bank and building society immigration checks on customers

25 September 2017

Banks and building societies will carry out checks from January to see if account holders are legally in the UK.

The BBC News has reported that financial institutions will be provided with a list from anti-fraud organisation Cifas on people who are liable for removal or deportation from the UK or who have absconded from immigration control. The Home Office has apparently said it will only share details of immigrants who are in the UK unlawfully. Organisations will then have to report any names they discover and freeze or close the accounts.

According to the Guardian in the BBC's report, 70 million accounts will be looked at quarterly to check the immigration status of the holders.

The checks form part of a series of measures in the Immigration Act 2016 aimed at encouraging illegal immigrants to leave the UK voluntarily. It follows on from rules passed in 2014 intended to check the immigration status of anyone opening a new bank or building society account.

The rules were approved by parliament in December 2016, and will come into force in January 2018.

Philip Augar, a former TSB board member and Home Office worker, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme and said:

"This is in the hands of the Home Office and the banks, neither of which are exactly known for flawless execution.

What happens when something goes wrong - if a bank account is frozen and the owner is entirely legal or if they've simply got the wrong name?  Resolving those situations will be, in some cases, smoothly done, but I can imagine it being an absolute nightmare for some poor individuals.

The problem is going to be multiple names will come up, the wrong names and bank accounts will be frozen, and it is how this is resolved, that will be the difficulty."


Read the full story from BBC News