Home Office asks banks in UK to carry out immigration checks on current account holders
Thursday 16 March 2023 7:46 AM UTC
LONDON March 14: Home Office has issued an updated guidance on March 13, 2023 asking banks and building societies to carry out immigration checks on current account holders.
According to the guidance, the Home Office will provide data to a specified anti-fraud organisation on persons disqualified from opening or operating current accounts. Banks and building societies must arrange to check prospective and existing current account holders or beneficiaries against this data. This will enable them to confirm whether an individual is permitted to open or operate a current account.
Banks and building societies are instructed to conduct checks on existing current accounts quarterly, said the guidance updated on 13th March 2023.
A person is considered to have been matched under the provisions of the Immigration Act 2014 if there is at least a three-point match against the Home Office data on disqualified persons. A 3-point match comprises the individual’s name, date of birth, and at least one of the contact details for that person; namely either an address, telephone number or email address.
Who is a disqualified person
A disqualified person is someone who doesnt have the legal status to be in the UK. A person is not allowed to open or operate a current bank account in the UK if they do not have the required immigration status to be legally in the UK.
Banks and building societies are prohibited from opening or operating current accounts for persons who are disqualified from accessing those services due to their immigration status.
Section 40 of the Immigration Act 2014 requires banks and building societies to ensure they do not open a current account to a disqualified person.
Section 40A of the Immigration Act 2014 requires banks and building societies to check existing current accounts to identify any that may be held by disqualified persons.
To fulfil their duties under section 40A of the Immigration Act 2014, banks and building societies must check all current accounts against the list of disqualified persons from the Home Office. The checks are to be made in respect of all signatories and known beneficiaries of these accounts.
Accounts are excluded from the requirement to check if they are operated by or for an individual who is acting, with respect to the account, for the purposes of a trade, business or profession.
Banks can restrict account access
Banks and building societies can also close or restrict access to your existing account if you are disqualified. This took effect on 30 October 2017 under section 40G of the Immigration Act 2014 – as amended by the Immigration Act 2016.
Read ‘Home Office leaflet: current account closed’ for information about what to do if your existing current account has been closed, because of your immigration status.
Closure of accounts
If the Home Office notifies a bank or building society of its duty to close an account via the Responses file on the secure Home Office IT portal, the bank or building society must do so as soon as reasonably practicable.
If any account is closed, a bank or building society can return any credit balance to the account holder in line with its terms and conditions, unless the account is under separate investigation or action.
The bank or building society may delay closure for a reasonable period to manage debt and the interests of third parties. The bank or building society can also comply with its statutory duties if it takes steps to prevent the account from being operated by the disqualified person, such as where steps are taken to restrict access where the disqualified person is a signatory or identified beneficiary, or the account is jointly held with a non-disqualified person, instead of closing the account.
The bank or building society may take reasonable steps to reassign the signatories and beneficiaries or provide an alternative account for remaining account holder(s).
The bank or building society must tell the customer of the reason for the account closure or prevention of its operation, if it can do so lawfully, as set out here. In the case where the account has been held jointly, the bank or building society must only inform the disqualified person of the reason.
Following notification from the Home Office that it is subject to a statutory duty to close an account, banks and building societies must provide information to the Home Office about steps it has taken to comply with that duty. This information must:
1. be provided before the end of the financial quarter in which the steps were taken (with the exception that information about steps taken in the last 2 weeks of a quarter may be provided in the next quarter)
2. be provided by uploading an [Actions] file to the secure Home Office IT portal
3. include the name of the bank or building society providing the information, and the date upon which the information is provided
What to do next
According to Home Office records you do not have leave to enter or remain in the UK and you should make arrangements to depart. If you need assistance to do so, the Home Office Voluntary Returns Service team can provide support.
They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone on 0300 004 0202 – Monday to Friday, 09:00am to 5:30pm.
Alternatively, further information is available on www.gov.uk/home-office or by visiting https://www.gov.uk/return-home-voluntarily.
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