News story

New checks introduced to stop illegal migrants opening bank accounts

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

New powers to stop illegal migrants opening bank accounts were introduced today (Friday 12 December) as part of the Immigration Act.

Home Office

For the first time banks and building societies will be barred from opening a current account for immigration offenders who are on the anti-fraud CIFAS database. Where the CIFAS checks identify that the applicant has no leave to enter or remain in the UK, the firm must refuse to open the account. If firms do not comply, the FCA will be able to levy financial penalties, restrict a firm’s deposit-taking permissions, or even bring forward criminal sanctions.

These measures will make it more difficult for illegal migrants to gain access to credit cards

Preventing illegal migrants from opening current accounts will make it more difficult for them to subsequently gain access to credit cards, mortgages or loans.

Bank accounts are important for establishing an identity in the UK

Bank accounts are important pieces of identification which make it easier for illegal migrants to access benefits and services they are not entitled to and therefore allow them to establish a more viable life in the UK.

Immigration and Security Minister, James Brokenshire said:

For too long it has been too easy for people to live in Britain despite having no right to be here.

These changes, as part of the Immigration Act, will make Britain a less attractive place for those who come here for the wrong reasons, and allow us to remove more people when they have no right to remain.

These reforms are helping us to build and deliver what we have always promised — an immigration system that truly works in the national interest.

Published 12 December 2014