Home Office issues official guidance on freezing immigrants’ bank accounts

On 20 December 2017, the Home Office published a guidance for its officers on when to apply for a court order freezing the bank account of the illegal immigrants. The full text of the guidance is available online: Immigration Act 2014 Code of Practice: Freezing Orders (Bank Accounts Measures)

The purpose of this Code is to specify the factors the immigration caseworkers should consider when deciding whether to apply for a freezing order under section 40C(2) of the Immigration Act 2014 as amended by the Immigration Act 2016.

The Immigration Act 2016 includes measures to prevent known illegal migrants from operating banks accounts. To bring these measures into force the Immigration Act 2016 gives HM Treasury powers through secondary legislation regulations, which set out:

  • what type of accounts banks must check;
  • how frequently banks must check;
  • how banks must notify the Home Office about accounts held by illegal migrants, and what the notifications must contain;
  • how the Secretary of State for the Home Office will respond;
  • and how banks will respond regarding their compliance.

It also gives the Home Office powers to bring into effect a Code of Practice on orders to freeze accounts.

According to the guidance, the following factors, as referenced in paragraphs 26-33, should be taken into account when you consider whether to refer a case to Immigration Enforcement Officers for application of a freezing order:

Threshold: The Home Office will not usually consider applying for a freezing order if the level of funds in a person’s combined bank accounts is less than £1,000.

Harm:  A decision on whether to apply for a freezing order should take into account the level of harm which an individual is reasonably suspected to pose, and the risk involved.

Criminality: Any matches involving criminal activity should be referred to relevant Immigration Enforcement Officers. However, even in those cases where the offending has been serious it might not be appropriate to freeze a person’s account(s) if the offender will be leaving the country promptly at the end of their sentence under an early release scheme.

The Immigration Enforcement Officers will also consider the person’s previous record of immigration offending, level of co-operation with the immigration system, and whether any notable difficulty has been encountered in effecting their removal.

For expert advice and assistance in relation to your particular case and relevant immigration law requirements, please contact our immigration lawyers on 020 7822 8535 or via our online appointment booking form.