HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT

NEW CODE OF PRACTICE

 

The Immigration Act 2016 includes measures to prevent known illegal migrants from operating banks accounts. To bring these measures into force the Immigration Act 2016 gives HM Treasury powers through secondary legislation regulations, which set out: what type of accounts firms must check; how frequently firms must check; how firms must notify the Home Office about accounts held by illegal migrants, and what the notifications must contain; how the Secretary of State for the Home Office will respond; and how firms will respond regarding their compliance. It also gives the Home Office powers to bring into effect a Code of Practice on orders to freeze accounts.”

The Banking Industry in January 2018 will start making checks on bank accounts for migrants in the UK to see if they should be closed or frozen, this is to further the Hostile Environment by using Banking Checks.

This is to make things more hostile and difficult for migrants in the UK, who have no visas so that they are forced to leave the UK.

The Home Office published earlier this month a new code of practice titled:

Immigration Act 2014 Code of Practice: Freezing Orders (Bank Accounts Measures)

This guidance for caseworkers tells them when and how they could apply for a court order to have the bank account frozen if they believe someone is in the UK unlawfully.

The guidance gives full factors for deciding whether to apply for any order or not.  It is basically there to decide whether closing the account would be easier, or to go for an order at the court.

It is clear from the guidance that small amounts of cash in the account such as £1000 may not be worth pursuing an order over and could simply be closed.

The guidance also provides for caseworkers to assess the levels of harm posed by the alleged migrant having money in the account, but does not take into account the level of suffering which the migrant could suffer if the account is closed or frozen.

Hostile Environment Banking Checks

These checks will roll out in January 2018 and will no doubt lead to many people suffering as a result.

If you find yourself in a problem whereby your account has been closed you could contact our firm to help you in this matter.

Our expert Immigration Solicitors are able to help you navigate the rules that surround this change and also to represent you by challenging the Home Office blacklist which it will provide to the Banks to close any accounts it believes belongs to migrants that have no lawful leave in the UK.

We suspect that this will lead to many challenges and losses suffered, same as the Employer Checking Service which the Home Office introduced some time back and has in the past resulted in the wrong information being provided.

One can only guess the suffering that will result now with the bank accounts closing and being frozen using court orders.

An open letter has been sent to the Home Office by many MPs and it is yet to be seen what will come of this.