In the last 24 months, the Home Office has taken portentous steps to crack down on net immigration figures in the UK and has largely relied on the Immigration Act 2014 (amended by the Immigration Act 2016). The Home Office has introduced stringent Right to Rent and Right to Work checks in an attempt to encourage overseas nationals without valid Immigration status to regularise their status in the UK. The Home Office now proposes further amendments to the Immigration Act 2016 by introducing a new rigorous Right to Bank Check for banks and building societies to conduct on their existing customer accounts.
New Right to Bank Check under the Immigration Act 2016
Presently, banks and building societies are prohibited from opening bank accounts for disqualified persons. The Home Office has now further amended the Immigration Act 2016 by introducing an additional Right to Bank Check in respect of existing customers. The Home Office has introduced new (sections 40A to 40H of the Immigration Act 2014) inserted in Schedule 7 of the Immigration Act 2016. The purpose of the Right to Bank Check is to encourage overseas nationals without Immigration status in the UK to act and regularise their status in the UK. In addition to this, the Home Office want to prevent and deter illegal immigration.
The first new Right to Bank Check will come into force on 30 October 2017 and will be carried out by banks and building societies on 1 January 2018. Following this, a quarterly periodic Right to Bank Check will be conducted. Banks and building societies who fail to comply with the Right to Bank Check will be held accountable by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). A direct consequence of failing to comply with a Right to Bank Check may be financial penalties, restrictions and in some extreme cases criminal sanctions.
Consequences of failing New Right to Bank Check under the Immigration Act 2016
After conducting a Right to Bank Check, if a bank or building society discovers that an existing customer does not have valid Immigration status in the UK they will have a duty to inform the Home Office. It is then up to the Home Office to decide what action to take. There is a wide range of actions open to the Home Office to exercise. Please see a few examples below:
- Requesting the bank or building society to shut down the account immediately. This will disrupt the Illegal migrant’s ability to reside in the UK;
- Applying to the courts to freeze assets until removal directions are in place; and
- Prosecute illegal migrants on the basis of working illegally and in some scenarios, the Home Office may recover proceeds from illegal working.
It is clear that the Home Office has introduced the Right to Bank Check amongst other measures in an effort to create a hostile environment for illegal immigrants forcing them to either regularise their status in he UK or to voluntary depart to their country of origin.
DVLA Right to Drive Check as well as Right to Bank Check
The Home Office is also actively working with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in revoking driving licences of drivers who do not hold valid Immigration status in the UK. The Home Office and DVLA partnership is working well and has had great success as over 25,000 UK driving licences have been revoked since the start of this operation in 2014. A driving licence is an important identity document which could previously be used by overstayers to use to secure work and sign Tenancy Agreements. It is clear that the Home Office aims to make living standards for overstayers inhospitable forcing overstayers to voluntary depart the UK.
Using Legal Representation to Comply with the Right to Bank Check and Regularise 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 Right to Bank Check. It is possible to instruct an immigration and visa legal representative to assist you with understanding and complying with a Right to Bank Check.
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 Right to Bank Check.
Successfully Comply with the Right to Bank Check and Regularise 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.