From coming January, British banks will be carrying out immigration checks on 70m current accounts every quarter in a bid to crackdown on illegal migrants in the country, a Home Office report has stated.
According to a report in the Guardian, the Home Office expects to identify 6,000 visa overstayers, failed asylum seekers and foreign national offenders facing deportation in the first year of the checks.
Theresa May’s government had introduced the Immigration Act last year whereby banks and building societies will be required to monitor the immigration status of current account holders: “From January banks and building societies will be required to carry out regular checks on the immigration status of all current account holders against the details of known illegal migrants to establish whether their customers are known to be in the UK unlawfully,” a Home Office spokesman stated.
Under these measures, the government will be able to apply, without notice, for a court order to freeze the accounts of migrants found to be in Britain illegally. The Home Office has, however, assured that people whose funds would be frozen will still have access to money for essential living expenses, after being determined by a judge.
Despite government claims, Immigration campaigners have warned that this system could potentially backfire. Just last month, a media report had pointed out how the Home Office had erroneously told 100 people that they were to be deported.
Earlier, legislation prevented migrants illegally in Britain from opening bank accounts, while the new rules go further by tracing accounts opened before the 2014 law and people who have overstayed their visa.