Immigration and residence restrictions can affect the help you get from the council if you're homeless or facing homelessness.
Help from the council
Anyone can ask the council for help when homeless or facing homelessness.
If you meet immigration and residence conditions, the council classes you as 'eligible for help'. You may get housing or personal advice to help you find or keep your home.
If you don't meet immigration and residence conditions, the council only has to give you general advice and information.
If the council decide you don't qualify
The council must give you a letter with reasons if they decide you don't qualify because of immigration or residence restrictions.
You can ask for a review within 21 days if you think the decision is wrong.
You may qualify for free legal help if you're on a low income:
If you need immigration advice: Find a registered immigration adviser on GOV.UK
British and Irish citizens
You qualify for council help when homeless if you've lived in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for the last 2 years.
If you've returned from abroad within the last 2 years
The council decide if you're 'habitually resident'. This means you're settled in the UK for the foreseeable future.
You can be habitually resident when you arrive if:
- you were previously resident and have returned to resettle
- you've been deported back to the UK from another country
You can show an intention to resettle by, for example, looking for work, arranging school places and registering with a GP.
Most British citizens are accepted as habitually resident within 3 months of arrival but not everyone qualifies for emergency or longer-term housing.
EU and EEA citizens
Many EU citizens and their family members qualify for council help when homeless but it depends on your residence status.
You qualify for help if you're an EU citizen with permanent residence status.
You might have permanent residence if you've:
- lived in the UK for at least 5 years
- retired or stopped work permanently due to illness or disability and lived in UK for at least 2 years
Working or self-employed
You qualify for help if you have EU worker status or EU self-employed status.
The council decides if you have this status by looking at:
- how much you earn
- the number of hours you work
The council should accept that you count as a worker or self-employed if you earn at least £155 a week. You could qualify if you earn less than this.
Pregnant or recently given birth
You qualify for help if you're on maternity leave from your job or self-employment.
You usually qualify for help if you stop working in the late stages of pregnancy or after having a baby, providing you return to work (or start looking for work) within 12 months.
Looking for work
You won't qualify for help if you've never worked in the UK.
You will qualify for help if you've worked in the UK and still have your worker or self-employed status.
You usually keep your worker or self-employed status for at least 6 months if you stop work, providing you register with Jobcentre Plus and look for a new job.
Can't work due to illness or accident
You usually qualify for help if you've worked in the UK but can't work temporarily because of illness or an accident.
If your illness means you're unlikely to work again it won't be seen as temporary. You could have permanent residence and qualify for help if you lived in the UK for at least 2 years before giving up work.
Children in school
You might qualify for help if you have a child who lives with you and is in school in the UK, providing your child has lived in the UK while you or their other parent was an EU worker. Only one of you needs to have been an EU worker.
People from outside the EU
Some people from outside the EU qualify for council help when homeless or facing homelessness. Your leave to remain must allow you to have 'recourse to public funds'.
Settled status or indefinite leave to remain
You usually qualify for help if you've been granted indefinite leave to remain (ILR), also known as settled status.
You won't usually qualify for help if you were granted ILR within the last 5 years because a relative sponsored you. The Home Office expects your relative to provide you with a home for your first 5 years in the UK unless they have died.
You usually qualify for help if you've been granted:
- refugee status
- humanitarian protection
You won't qualify for help if your leave to remain in the UK has ended.
If you apply to extend your leave before it expires, you continue to qualify for help until the Home Office makes a decision.
You won't qualify for homeless help from the council if you're seeking asylum.
You can apply for asylum support instead if you have nowhere to live while the Home Office looks at your asylum claim.
If you're under 18 and on your own, social services will provide you with somewhere to live until you turn 18 or get a final decision on your asylum claim.
Spouse or partner visas
You won't usually qualify for help if you're in the UK on a spouse or partner visa. Your partner is expected to provide you with a home for your first 5 years in the UK.
If you need to leave your home because of domestic violence you can ask the Home Office for permission to claim benefits and get homeless help for a 3-month period.
The application form is on GOV.UK but you should get immigration advice before you complete it.
Rights of Women can provide free legal advice.
No recourse to public funds
You can't get help with housing or benefits in the UK if your immigration status means you have 'no recourse to public funds'.
This restriction affects foreign students, work-permit holders, visitors and some other types of limited leave to remain.
Last updated - 03 Apr 2018
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