Data sharing with the financial sector will begin today as the government cracks down on illegal migrants accessing banking services.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick

Making it more difficult for unlawful migrants to access financial services is an important tool to help deter illegal migration by preventing people from working illegally and profiting from services they are not entitled to.

Having access to a current account can assist those here unlawfully in obtaining work illegally and securing credit. It can help those without permission to be in the UK gain a foothold in society, regardless of their immigration status.

Identifying an unlawful migrant’s current account may also provide evidence of illegal working, helping identify and stamp this out.

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak initially announced the plans to restart data sharing to the House of Commons as part of the government’s approach to tackling illegal working and immigration.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said:

Access to key banking services, including current accounts, is crucial in aiding those here unlawfully to gain a foothold in British society.

As the Prime Minister has set out, we are committed to going further and faster to prevent the abuse of our laws and borders. Illegal working causes untold harm to our communities, cheating honest workers of employment and defrauding the public purse.

Only those known to be here unlawfully or those who have absconded from immigrational control will have their details shared, with robust safeguards in place to prevent wrongful account closures.

The new measures do not impose any requirements on banks to check customer’s documents. Instead, the Home Office will share details of disqualified persons via an anti-fraud organisation, and banks and building societies will then check their personal current account holders against those details.

Anyone with outstanding immigration applications or appeals will not be affected, nor will those who have been granted leave to be in the UK, including refugees. In addition, the Home Office retains discretion over the criteria for disqualification and sharing data.

Bank account closures will only occur where the Home Office has made a further check to ensure that the customer is still in the UK without permission to stay.

Where the bank or building society has refused to open an account, or closed an existing account, the customer will be notified of the reasons, how to contact the Home Office if they believe a mistake has been made, and the next steps they should take.

Published 6 April 2023