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Claiming benefits if you have no recourse to public funds

You cannot get universal credit unless you meet immigration conditions.

But you could still get some support.

The NRPF Network lists benefits that do not count as 'public funds'.

For example, you could get new style jobseekers' allowance for 6 months if you lose your job and have paid enough national insurance contributions.

Help for children

If you're a family with children, social services may help you with money for things like:

  • rent

  • food

  • travel to work or school

They can also refer you to a food bank or other charities.

The help social services give to families with children is sometimes called section 17 support.

NRPF network has an online tool to work out your options.

Project 17 charity has a guide to support for families.

Social services must help if you’re under 18 and seeking asylum without your family.

Find specialist help and online information if you're under 18 and seeking asylum.

If you're experiencing domestic abuse

Some refuges have spaces for women who cannot get benefits.

The Home Office can let you claim benefits for 3 months if:

  • you have no money to support yourself

  • you came to the UK on a partner or spousal visa

  • your partner is a British citizen or has indefinite leave to remain

  • your relationship has broken down because of domestic abuse

Get immigration advice before you contact the Home Office.

Find specialist immigration advice through:

Your adviser could help you to complete a form on GOV.UK

When only one partner can claim benefits

Get specialist help from Citizens Advice if you:

  • have been told you have to submit a joint claim for universal credit

  • are a joint tenant looking into claiming benefits to help with your rent

  • are worried your partner's claim will affect your immigration status

Find out more about claiming benefits in this situation:

Asylum support

You can apply for asylum support if you have:

  • made an asylum claim in the UK

  • no money or nowhere to stay while the Home Office looks at your asylum application

You can get £49.18 a week for each person in your family. This is for food, toiletries and essential travel.

You can get extra payments if you're pregnant or have a child under 3.

Find out more about asylum support and housing.

Migrant Help are a charity who can help you apply for asylum support.

Call Migrant Help on 0808 8010 503.

Their free asylum helpline is open 24 hours a day. They also have a webchat service.

You can ask for an interpreter if you need one.

Keep trying if you do not get through first time.

Where to get immigration advice

Speak to an immigration adviser if you:

  • have no immigration status

  • are worried about your immigration status

  • want to change your immigration status, for example remove the NRPF condition

Shelter cannot give immigration advice.

Citizens Advice can help you get specialist immigration advice.

You can search for a regulated immigration adviser on GOV.UK

Last updated: 25 March 2024

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