Homeless applications: immigration and residence
When you ask for council help, a homelessness officer checks you are 'eligible for assistance'.
They will ask:
about your immigration status
if you've lived abroad recently
The council will ask about this even if you're British or have lived here all your life.
You can usually get some homeless help if you meet the immigration conditions.
Proof of your status
You may need evidence of your immigration status to get homeless help.
You should be given time to provide extra information if you do not have it when you first speak to the council.
EU citizens can view and prove your immigration status on GOV.UK
People from outside the EU might be asked for Home Office letters or documents.
Who can get homelessness help
You could get homeless help if you have:
British or Irish citizenship
EU settled status
indefinite leave to remain (ILR)
refugee status or humanitarian protection
leave to remain with recourse to public funds
From 30 January 2023 you can also get homelessness help if you have limited leave to remain as a victim of human trafficking or slavery.
What is 'recourse to public funds'?
It means you can apply for help with housing or benefits if needed.
People with EU settled status, refugee status or humanitarian protection all have recourse to public funds.
Other examples include:
the Afghan relocations and assistance policy or the Afghan citizens resettlement scheme
'destitute domestic violence concession' given to some people who cannot live with their sponsor due to domestic abuse
What is 'habitual residence'?
It usually means you have lived in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for at least a month and will be living here for the foreseeable future.
Most people need to be habitually resident to get homeless help. This includes British and Irish citizens.
You do not need to be habitually resident if you:
have refugee status or humanitarian protection
are deported or removed from another country to the UK
were living in Ukraine before 1 January 2022 and left because of the war
You can ask for homeless help on arrival in UK if you have either:
British or Irish citizenship
an immigration status that gives you recourse to public funds
and you lived in:
Sudan before 15 April 2023
Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, Israel or Lebanon before 7 October 2023
If you have lived here before
You could be habitually resident as soon as you arrive if you return to resettle.
You can show an intention to resettle by:
looking for work
registering with a GP
arranging school places for your children
The DWP will also look at this if you need to claim universal credit.
You can usually get help if you're an Irish citizen or have settled status in the UK.
Some EU citizens with pre-settled status also qualify but you have to meet extra conditions.
You will not usually be able to get help if you moved to the UK after 31 December 2020 unless you're an Irish citizen or have settled status.
People with indefinite leave to remain
You usually qualify for help if you've been granted indefinite leave to remain (ILR) and are habitually resident.
The only exception is if a relative sponsored you to come and live in the UK within the last 5 years. In this situation you can only get homeless help if your relative has died.
You usually qualify for homeless help if you've been granted:
discretionary leave with recourse to public funds
If you apply to extend your leave before it expires, you continue to qualify until the Home Office makes a decision.
You qualify for help if you're habitually resident and have right of abode.
Many other long term residents from the Commonwealth also have the right to live, work, claim benefits and apply as homeless in the UK.
If the council say you do not qualify
The council must give you a letter which explains their decision.
You have 3 weeks to ask for a review if you think the decision is wrong.
Contact a Shelter adviser if the council will not give you a letter or you're not sure of your next steps.
If you're seeking asylum
You could get asylum support while the Home Office looks at your asylum claim.
If you're under 18 and have no family in the UK, you can get help from the council's social services department.
If you're on a spouse or partner visa
You cannot usually get homeless 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're experiencing domestic abuse you could:
ask the Home Office for permission to claim benefits and get homeless help
Last updated: 30 October 2023