Homeless asylum seekers and refugees

You may be entitled to homelessness support if you are an asylum seeker, a refugee or are appealing against an unsuccessful asylum claim.

Speak to a specialist adviser for more detailed information. Contact Shelter's housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444. We can also provide an interpreter for your call.

Somewhere to stay while your asylum claim is looked at

Some asylum seekers stay with friends or family while UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) consider their asylum claim.

You can apply for asylum support if you have nowhere to stay. Asylum support includes housing outside of London and south-east England and a small cash allowance. If you can stay with friends or family but have no money, you can apply for cash support only.

Asylum Help, part of the charity Migrant Help, can help you apply for asylum support. Contact Asylum Help on 0808 8000 631.        

If someone in your household has a disability or special needs

You may get extra support from your local council if you are homeless and you or one of your family has a disability or other circumstances that may affect his or her health or development. The council has a legal duty to help a child in need.

If you are under 18 and alone in the UK

If you are an unaccompanied minor (a child or young person under the age of 18 who is claiming asylum and has no family in the UK) you are legally classed as a child in need. Social services must make sure that you are looked after.

Children under the age of 16 are usually looked after by social services, but after the age of 16 you may be supported to live independently. Social services must then continue to support you until you are 21 years old.

When you turn 18, social services may continue to support you until you are 21 years old, as you are classed as a care leaver.

Rights after an asylum claim has been decided

If your asylum claim is successful, you have many of the same rights as British citizens. This includes the right to apply for housing benefit, help if you become homeless and the right to apply for a council home.

Your rights depend on what status you have been given, for example refugee status, indefinite leave to remain, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave to remain.

Get advice if your asylum claim is refused, as you may not be eligible for help.

Use Shelter's directory to find an adviser in your area or call Shelter's free housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444. Our advisers can provide interpreting services if you need them, and minicom for deaf callers. We can help you find a solicitor if you need one. 

Further help and advice for asylum seekers and refugees

The Housing rights information website provides more information about the rights and options you have if you have recently come to the UK. It also includes information about getting help if you are suffering from domestic abuse or have social care needs.

Last updated: