Is the Home Office trying to break the bank?


UK banks will be required to check the immigration status behind 70 million bank accounts

From the 30 October 2017, banks and building societies will be obliged to carry out quarterly immigration checks on their consumers. This is the effect of Schedule 7 of the Immigration Act (2016), amending the Immigration Act (2014).

The law, as it currently stands, prohibits banks and building societies from opening current accounts for people who are known not to have Leave to Remain in or Leave to Enter the UK. The new regulations mandates there must now be additional quarterly checks of the immigration status of existing current account customers. For each bank account belonging to anyone who is an over-stayer, that bank must then notify the Home Office, who will in turn close down the account and freeze it.

This new provision is being added to the existing host of rules and regulations that make up the “Hostile Environment” The Hostile Environment is the name given by several immigration campaigners to a raft of measures that the UK government has put in place to make life difficult for individuals without permission to remain in the UK (otherwise known as over-stayers).

Like the rest of the Hostile Environment, this new requirement compels private individuals and businesses to carry out complex immigration checks. This follows the trend of the Home Office forcing the private sector to carry out checks that rightly should be dealt with by trained immigration professionals; Right to Rent being the most widespread. However, a report released by the Chief inspector of Borders and Immigration has indicated that up to 10% of people denied services under the Hostile Environment regulations were incorrectly targeted. This could lead to great swathe of people, who are legally in the UK, being unable to pay their rent, their mortgage or day to day living expenses. To the average person, this would be devastating.

The UK is still depending, to a larger or lesser degree, on immigration to bolster the economy and the workforce. The real question is this: if you are an educated taxpayer, and residing in the UK holds the prospect of spending the remainder of your days attempting to justify your existence because you are an immigrant, why would you want to stay?

Working in tandem with our Company Commercial department, Bishop & Sewell is uniquely placed to advise both businesses and individuals regarding the increasing complex area of immigration law compliance. Bishop & Sewell has the well-earned reputation for being approachable and “going the extra mile” for its clients whilst providing both legal and practical advice. We provide a bespoke holistic approach for our clients, not merely limiting ourselves to just the matter at hand.

If you are looking for assistance with an immigration matter, or if you have any questions about the Hostile Environment, please call 020 7091 2731 and ask for Mariam Khaliq, the head of our Immigration team or email immigration@bishopandsewell.co.uk

This article is intended as a general summary on the law – no reliance should be placed on it. 

 


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