A pilot scheme to help UK banks and credit providers identify fraudulent applications by immigration offenders has been launched by the Audit Commission, Public Net reports this week.
The Commission and the UK Border Agency will share ‘real time’ information with financial institutions. Each year the UK Border Agency processes around 3.5 million applications to visit, live, work or study in the UK.
The aim is to prevent those with no right to stay or work in the UK from accessing financial services. In return, financial institutions will provide the Agency with information on where illegal working and employment is taking place, supporting the Agency’s work in tackling immigration crime.
Identifying immigration offenders in the UK will protect banks from fraudulent applications, for example stopping mortgages being granted to people with no right to work in the UK and therefore no means to repay loans. It will also make it more difficult for organised foreign criminal gangs to defraud banks by making bogus credit applications.
The new data matching service will sit alongside the established data matching work. But the new instant matching facility will help participants to target fraud more effectively. Data from around 1,300 organisations – including councils, the police, hospitals and nearly 100 private companies – is held in the Audit Commission’s National Fraud Intelligence database.
UK banks are much more willing to offer credit cards and loans to foreign nationals than their counterparts in other countries. Access to easy credit means that even those on temporary visas, such as Tier 4 students, can obtain a credit card within months of opening a bank account.
Migrants who get into financial difficulty with debts are often unaware that this could affect their future immigration status.
Most people know that criminal convictions, involvement with terrorist organisations or illegally claiming benefits could lead to a refusal by the UKBA.
A CCJ stays on your credit history for six years or more and will have to be declared on immigration forms However, many do not realise that even a non-criminal less serious civil judgement (e.g. CCJ) may also affect your application to stay in the country.
For instance, the FLR (M) Form (Version 04/2011) includes the following question:
Do you or any dependants who are applying with you have any criminal convictions in the UK or any other country (including traffic offences) or any civil judgments made against you?
A civil judgement could be a county court judgement (CCJ) for an unpaid bill or debt.
Hundreds of international students are currently being sued by their former colleges or universities for unpaid fees according to debt collection agencies.
Others have run up credit card debts or leave behind unpaid utility bills or rent arrears.
Moving house and burying your head in the sand will not get you off the hook.
A civil action for debts can be heard and judgement (CCJ) awarded in your absence, so ignoring the problem will only make things worse for you as court costs are added to the debt. Interest may also be added to the debt.
A ‘Default’ for an unpaid credit card bill can be registered without even going to court.
A CCJ or Default will stay on your credit file and history for six years or more and will have to be declared on immigration forms.
Some universities and colleges will chase debtors even when they flee to their own country.
The UK is truly a land of ‘easy credit’ compared to the rest of the world, but for those on visas who abuse the system the consequences can be serious.
If you need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: