Banking in the UK

Okay, so this post has been a long time coming with the changes that came in with the Immigration Bill. Changes that have attempted to turn Surgeries/Clinics/Letting Agency/Bank employees and Landlords into Immigration Control Officers. The partial result of which has already been documented in the NHS series, whereby the documentation that is now being required creates a de facto group of second and third-class citizens who are wholly unable to provide the necessary identification.

But how does this translate into the banking sector? Well… you see, the largest hurdles that will need to be overcome are in proving my right to remain (again, surprisingly, that BRP card does not seem to be good enough, despite it being marketed to the masses as being exclusively for that purpose) and showing proof of current place of residence.

Part of the research for this project was actually completed by my husband – who physically went to the local branch of his bank to get suggestions on what to do in our case. Please keep that in mind that this is only documenting our experience and should, therefore, NOT be interpreted as a guide. By any stretch of the imagination, it would fail at it.

As already noted, my husband went to his bank and asked what could be done in the case of a married couple living with family and where one of the individuals is an immigrant with limited leave to remain but is allowed to work/volunteer in the UK. The impression he was given was, as someone who already had an account with the bank, we could set up a joint account IF (in caps for emphasis, of course) I could procure a National Insurance number.

An interesting proposal, but that’s where it stands. I would be dishonest if I said that I did not have any reservations regarding this. At best, the idea was a crap-shoot on account that the suggestion is not necessarily documented with the bank itself that I am aware of, and is therefore an oral agreement being established by an employee that they may likely not be able to honour. But it was worth attempting, especially since I needed an NI number anyway, so it wouldn’t be as if we were going out of our way to complete the hoop-jumping exercise.

That investigation was completed way back in November 2014; fast forward a few months and now I have an NI number but… as it turns out, the UK government does not seem to issue cards anymore – or at least not to foreigners with FLR-Visas. So I have a number, but no card.

But I’m a paranoid American and, despite me throwing doubts on the success of this mission (we’ll just call it foreshadowing, m’kay? great, moving on…), so hoop-jumping we have done and I have the letter confirming the NI number from the JobCentre (because they’re the only ones who send you anything, it turns out). We booked an appointment to talk about opening an account with the bank.

Do I really need to say how much this didn’t go according to what was originally marketed to us? As far as personal identification went, I was fine.

It’s that blasted address verification that’s caught us out once again. Banks can only accept certain types of documents, of which I have none at this juncture due to the fact that we are currently living with family.

It is interesting to note that we were advised to contact HMRC and request them to send me a letter showing what my tax code would be if I was working (the fuq, you say?), and supposedly they’ll accept that. While the link with the list I’ve provided is not specifically with the bank we used, it is reasonable to assume that they all are required to accept the same things. Nothing more and nothing less.

I’m calling shenanigans, but despite that, I’ve still been on hold with HMRC to get this supposed letter. I have been for the past 20 minutes… and counting. With no sign that anyone is likely to answer my call any time soon.

So, like a mime, I’m pawing at an invisible glass ceiling, trying my hardest not to open my mouth outright. If I did, I’m pretty sure every swear word I know (and possibly some new ones I’ll make up on the spot) will come pouring out.

As I am still on hold, there will be a part two to this series, hopefully with an actual conclusion.

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