1.12.2017 UK banks will check immigration status of all bank account holders

1.12.2017 UK banks will check immigration status of all bank account holders

From 1 January 2018, in addition to the checks that have to be carried out at the time of the opening current accounts, banks and building societies will be legally required to carry out quarterly immigration status checks on all existing current accounts to ensure that those with an illegal immigration status cannot open and operate a current account.

Banks and building societies are required to consistently review the immigration status of the current account holders and have an obligation to notify the Home Office if they become aware of an existing account operated for an illegal migrant. In this way the Home Office wants to encourage illegal migrants to leave the UK themselves and is trying to make it more difficult for illegal migrants to establish residence in the UK. The costs incurred in carrying out these checks are the banks’ responsibility.

The Home Office will carry out its own investigation to ensure that the current account holder is in the UK illegally. Once its confirmed that a person is an illegal migrant the Home Office will have a right to require the bank to close the account operated for an illegal migrant as soon as reasonably practicable or to apply to the courts for a freezing order in respect of one or more of the accounts operated by the confirmed illegal migrant.

The FCA will make sure that these checks are carried out in a proper manner. However, the Home Office record keeping is not completely accurate which may unfairly affect legal migrants by mistake. Therefore, legal migrants are advised to update their bank of their immigration status, new passport, visa or biometric residence permit should any of those changes take place.