29 November 2017 – Helpful and just interesting Immigration News from the Immigration Lawyers who can really help - www.legalcentre.org - Ph: 0330 001 0342 or 07791145923

>>> The definition of a "current account" in relation to the Bank Account measures under the Immigration Act 2016 (21 November 2017) by the UK BA

From the 1st January 2018, the Immigration Act 2016 (the Act) will require banks to perform periodic checks on ‘current accounts’ to ensure that they are not operated by ‘disqualified persons’ (i.e. a person who is in the UK but who does not have the required leave to enter or remain in the UK). So, what exactly is the definition of the “current account” by the UK BA ?

According to the UK BA, the Government is not able to provide legal guidance on the Immigration Act 2016, and this information does not constitute legal guidance. There is no legal definition of a current account, but the Government set out its view of a current account when the Immigration Act 2014 regime was debated in Parliament. On 12 December 2016, Lord Young reiterated this view in relation to the Immigration Act 2016 (Col 15, Vol 777). The UK BA also provids a link to relevant Hansard debate below this.

“Not all bank accounts are within scope of the requirement to make an immigration check under the 2016 Act. This instrument specifies that current accounts operated by or for individuals who are acting for the purposes of a trade, business or profession are excluded from the requirement to make an immigration check. In practice this means that firms are required to conduct checks on existing personal current accounts. Firms are not required to extend checks to all existing current accounts such as corporate or business accounts. This ensures that the checks undertaken by banks are appropriately targeted and proportionate. This reflects the Government’s ongoing view that current accounts are the gateway product to other financial services and a settled life in the UK. Such an account would be expected to provide functionality to hold deposits and make withdrawals without having to give notice. It would also typically enable the customer to receive and make payments through a number of different methods, including by cheque, direct debit, standing order, continuous payment authority or other electronic payments. Withdrawals, money transfers and other payment transactions can typically be conducted through various channels including ATMs, branch, online, mobile or telephone banking. Many current accounts also have overdraft facilities.

For the purposes of the Immigration Act, “current accounts” should also continue to include “basic bank accounts”. The requirement to make an immigration check does not apply to savings accounts, which in the Government’s view are intended to be opened for the primary purpose of accruing savings and not for day-to-day transactional banking, but which may provide some of the functionality I have just referred to. This also takes into account existing prohibitions in the 2014 Act, which mean that a disqualified person cannot evade the legislation by closing their current account and opening a business account as a sole trader or a charity.

I turn now to notifications. If a firm makes an immigration check on a personal current account and finds a match, the bank is required to notify the Home Office using a secure Home Office portal. To allow the Home Office to confirm the match and instruct on next steps, this instrument requires firms to provide certain information. This includes details of any other accounts that the firm holds for the disqualified person and the balances held in those accounts. Information about regular payments into accounts above a threshold of £200 has been included to allow the Home Office to identify patterns of payments that may constitute evidence of illegal working. The requirement to provide information is limited to what firms hold and can retrieve. It does not require the further investigation of data not held. The Home Office will then confirm the match, based on its data, and instruct the firm on the next steps.”

Individuals should also be referred to gov.uk for guidance on what to do if their account is closing because they are in the UK illegally: https://www.gov.uk/government/public...gration-status