Banks and building societies are set to carry out UK immigration checks on more than 70 million current accounts from January 2017 in an extension of Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans to create a “hostile environment” for illegal immigration in Britain.
According to The Guardian, the Home Office expects the first year of checks, which will be carried out quarterly, to find that around 6,000 people have overstayed their UK visa, failed to gain asylum or have offended overseas and face deportation.
Upon identifying these people, the government has reported that the banks will close down or freeze the accounts to make it harder for illegal immigrants to maintain or establish a live in Britain without a UK visa.
Furthermore, the government added that freezing accounts containing significant amount of money could also provide an incentive for many to agree to voluntary departure in exchange for keeping hold of their funds.
However, UK immigration welfare campaigners have warned that the Home Office’s record, including a recent issue of sending out erroneous immigration emails, means it should not be trusted to implement the new system without causing errors and potentially threatening those who legitimately hold a UK visa.
Commenting on the move, Satbir Singh, the chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “The government’s own record shows it cannot be trusted even to implement this system properly. Immigration status is very complex, and the Home Office consistently gives out incorrect information and guidance.”
He added: “Migrants and ethnic minorities with every right to be here will be affected by the imposition of these new checks.”