It has been reported in the news recently that as part of the UK Government’s increasingly Hostile Environment Policy towards migration, the Home Office has introduced measures whereby Banks and Building Societies in the UK can carry out immigration checks on their existing or prospective current account holders. They then have the power to close the bank accounts of customers or refuse applications for current accounts of those who do not have lawful immigration status in the UK. The Banks and Building Societies also then have a duty to report these individuals to the Home Office.
What affect does Immigration Status have a bank account?
Since the 30 October 2017 when the Home Office introduced its new Right to Bank Check measures, Banks and Building Societies have a duty to conduct quarterly periodic checks on their account holders in order to identify individuals who do not have valid immigration status in the UK. These provisions are set out under section 40G of the Immigration Act 2014 (as amended by the Immigration Act 2016). The Bank or Building Society is required to inform the Home Office and can freeze or close that person’s bank account. Therefore, if an individual have no lawful leave in the UK, their Right to Bank is essentially taken away which could lead to a whole range of other issues for that person. Critics of these Right to Bank checks have labelled it “damaging” and “inhumane” as not only will those in an already vulnerable position be exploited, but due to the Home Office’s notoriously poor procedures could lead to mix-ups which have seen legal migrants wrongly punished.
Hence it is important that foreign nationals in the UK to have valid immigration status and the right to bank in the UK. If your visa has expired or is about to expire you should contact our specialist immigration team to book a consultation in order to discuss your next steps with our Immigration Solicitor.
Recent UK Visas and Immigration update on Immigration Status and Current Accounts
The Home Office and UK Visas and Immigration have recently published a leaflet which gives a brief explanation of why a migrant’s current account may have been closed or why the application to open an account has been refused.
According to the leaflet, an individual may be ‘disqualified’ if they are in the UK and need leave to enter or remain (under the Immigration Act 1971) and don’t have leave to be here. This could be because that person:
- never had leave to enter or remain (because you entered the UK illegally); or
- had leave but stayed after it expired or was revoked; or
- are an European Economic Area (EEA) national subject to deportation action who has exhausted all rights of appeal.
The Home Office has the power under the Immigration Act 2014 to apply for a freezing order in relation to current accounts of disqualified persons.
In the cases where an illegal migrant has a joint bank account with a person who has lawful immigration status, the Bank or Building Society may instead take steps to prevent the illegal migrant from operating the account, as opposed to closing the account entirely. This is because the Immigration Act 2014 does not prevent Banks and Building Societies from providing banking services to individuals who are lawfully present in the UK. It is advised that the other account holders should contact the Bank or Building Society directly to discuss their situation.
Using Legal Representation to resolve your UK Immigration Status
Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration status ensuring you comply with the Immigration Rules. It is possible to instruct an immigration and visa legal representative to assist you with understanding and complying with the Immigration Rules.
Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your application succeeds, all necessary documents must be provided. This can be a significant administrative task and you will need to submit the correct documentary evidence. The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that you comply with the UK Immigration Rules.
Successfully resolve your UK Immigration Status
Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your immigration status and whether you comply with the Right to Bank Check before your matter even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation of your immigration and visa application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.
Our offices are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.
Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation.
Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.