UK Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick has announced a new crackdown to prevent illegal migrants from accessing banking services. Starting today, data sharing with the financial sector will commence to deter illegal migration and prevent individuals from profiting from services they are not entitled.
It is widely acknowledged that having access to a current account can assist those living in the UK unlawfully in obtaining work illegally and securing credit, thereby enabling them to gain a foothold in society. However, the government’s new measures aim to prevent this by identifying and stamping out illegal work.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak initially announced the plans to restart data sharing to the House of Commons as part of the government’s approach to tackling illegal working and immigration. Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick stressed that illegal working causes untold harm to communities, cheating honest workers of employment and defrauding the public purse.
The new measures do not impose any requirements on banks to check customers’ documents. Instead, the Home Office will share details of disqualified persons via an anti-fraud organization, and banks and building societies will then check their personal current account holders against those details.
Only those known to be in the UK unlawfully or those who have absconded from immigration control will have their details shared, and robust safeguards will be in place to prevent wrongful account closures. The Home Office retains discretion over the criteria for disqualification and sharing data, and anyone with outstanding immigration applications or appeals will not be affected, nor will those who have been granted leave to be in the UK, including refugees.
Bank account closures will only occur when the Home Office has further checked to ensure that the customer is still in the UK without permission to stay. Where the bank or building society has refused to open an account or closed an existing account, the customer will be notified of the reasons, how to contact the Home Office if they believe a mistake has been made, and the next steps they should take.
The government’s new measures have been met with mixed reactions. Some argue that it is a necessary step in tackling illegal working and immigration, as access to financial services is a crucial factor in allowing individuals to settle and work illegally in the UK. However, others argue that the measures may result in innocent individuals being denied access to banking services and may drive illegal migrants towards more exploitative forms of work and finance.
The government’s crackdown on preventing illegal migrants from accessing banking services is significant in addressing illegal working and immigration. However, it is essential to ensure that the measures are implemented with robust safeguards and do not inadvertently discriminate against individuals who are lawfully residing in the UK. Ultimately, it is crucial to strike a balance between deterring illegal migration and protecting the rights of all individuals, regardless of their immigration status.