If you are from outside the European Economic Area you may well find that you are not entitled to the benefits you need. Here are some common examples of when this happens:
- You are waiting for a decision on an application for asylum
- You are here on a ‘student visa’
- You are here on a ‘spouse visa’
The problem is that in these circumstances the Home Office says that you are a ‘person subject to immigration control’ (PSIC): people subject to immigration control do not normally have the right to any of the benefits I talk about in this site. The Home Office describes this by saying that you have ‘no recourse to public funds’.
If you have any doubt about whether this applies to you (and you are not seeking asylum) check the visa stamp in your passport: if it says ‘no recourse to public funds’ then you’ll know that it does. And this situation will continue until the Home Office decides (if you’re lucky) to give you Refugee Status, or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), or Exceptional Leave to Remain (ELR).
Actually, what I've just said is technically wrong. You are entitled to contributory benefits, like contribution based Employment and Support Allowance, or the State Retirement Pension, but as you need to have worked for a number of years to get these this isn’t going to help you very much, especially as it is likely that the Home Office has said that you are not allowed to work.
If you are claiming asylum, you may have the right to help from the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) or - sometimes - Social Services, but an immigration specialist would need to advise you about this.
There are some complications, some good and some bad. Here are the main ones…
Complications that can help
- If any of your relations is a citizen of any country in the European Economic Area, and they are in the UK, check my page on family members of EEA citizens to see if this can help you.
- If you are part of a couple, and your partner is allowed to claim benefits (for example, because they are a British citizen) you are allowed to claim Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit jointly with your partner, although you can sometimes have a hard time convincing Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs about this.
- If you are relying on financial abroad from your home country (whether from family, or friends, or the government) and that funding is temporarily disrupted, you are allowed to apply for benefits, but you can only get them for 42 days.
- In some unusual situations people from the following countries can get some benefits in some circumstances: the countries of former Yugoslavia (except Slovenia Croatia which are in the EU), Algeria, Morocco, San Marino, Tunisia, or Turkey. If you are from one of these countries you need to get specialist legal advice.
A Complication that can be a problem
- Sometimes people are given indefinite leave to remain as ‘family members’ but with a ‘maintenance undertaking’. This normally happens when British citizens bring an elderly relative to join them in the UK. Most people with indefinite leave to remain are entitled to claim benefits just like anyone else, but to get round this the Home Office will not grant leave to remain in these case until the person in the UK who wants them to come here(‘the sponsor’) signs a form basically promising to support them and that they will not be a burden on the state. The person who has come to the UK will not be able to claim public funds for five years, unless the sponsor dies sooner.
people come to the UK on 'Family Reunion' visas: this happens when
one member of a family gets Refugee status in the UK and then
arranges for family members who are still abroad to join him or
her. In this case the person in the UK is called also called the
sponsor. However the situation is completely different to the one
I've been talking about above.
If you come to the UK on a Refugee Family Reunion visa no maintenance undertaking is needed and you are entitled to benefits straight away.
The DWP frequently get this wrong and confuse the two kinds of sponsor. If they refuse you because of this you should challenge them, and seek specialist advice if you can.
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