Claiming benefits if you have no recourse to public funds

You need to meet immigration conditions to get universal credit and most benefits.

But you could still get some support.

The NRPF Network lists benefits you could get. It has a web tool to work out your options.

Help for children

If you’re under 18 and have no family in the UK, social services must help you.

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.

Social services help for families with children is sometimes called section 17 support.

Project 17 charity has a guide for families on section 17 support.

You may get free legal help if social services will not help.
Call Civil Legal Advice on 0345 345 4 345.

If you're experiencing domestic abuse

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

  • you came to the UK to be with your partner

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

  • your relationship has broken down because of domestic abuse

  • you have no money to support yourself

You should get immigration advice before asking the Home Office to claim benefits and get homelessness help if you're experiencing domestic abuse.

Find specialist immigration advice through:

Your advisor might tell you to complete a form on GOV.UK.

Some refuges have spaces for women who cannot get benefits because of immigration conditions.

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 £40.85 a week for each person in your family. This is for food, toiletries and essential travel.

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

You can also apply for a one-off maternity payment of £300 if you have a baby due in 8 weeks or have a baby under 6 weeks.

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 refer you to a specialist adviser. You can also find immigration information on their website.

Last updated: 28 March 2022

If you need to talk to someone, we'll do our best to help

Get help