The new scheme, which will be rolled out this month, requires banks and building societies to check all current account holders against a list of people liable for deportation or wanted by immigration enforcement. If an account holder is found to be in the UK illegally the bank must inform the Home Office, which will instruct on action that may include closing the account.
“These new measures are part of our commitment to make it more difficult for people with no right to live or work in the UK to remain here. Banks and building societies have been required to check a person’s immigration status before they open a current account since 2014, and a 2016 investigation found 10% of those denied an account after such checks had been refused wrongly.
In a statement, the Home Office said only the details of people who were “liable for removal” or who had “absconded from immigration control” would be shared, and that asylum seekers and others whose applications were being processed would not be affected.
Money will be returned to the account holders unless evidence of criminality is found, in which case an account could be frozen, the Home Office said. Current measures against illegal migrants includes preventing people from working, renting accommodation or getting driving licences, and have seen demands for immigration checks implemented in hospitals and schools.