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Investigations into immigration status

This content applies to England

Rules that local authorities should follow when investigating immigration status.


Procedures for assessing whether someone is an eligible person should reflect the public sector equality duty on all local authorities to make appropriate arrangements to secure that their functions are carried out with due regard to eliminating unlawful discrimination and promoting equality of opportunity and good relations between people under the Equality Act 2010). In addition, as a provider of services a housing authority is prohibited from discriminating unlawfully on the grounds of race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins. See the Equality law section for further information on the Equality Act's implementation dates, key concepts, discrimination in relation to premises and public sector equality duty.

In particular, it is unlawful to discriminate:

  • in the terms on which accommodation is offered
  • by refusing applications, or
  • by treating one person differently from another.[1]

Information from UKVI

The 2012 allocations code of guidance advises that authorities should satisfy themselves that housing applicants are eligible for an allocation of accommodation at the time of application and at the time an offer is made. In order to establish immigration status, local authorities may need to contact UKVI.[2] Where a local authority makes inquiries, these should be carried out within a reasonable period of time.[3]


The information on this page applies only to England. Go to Shelter Cymru for information relating to Wales.

[1] s.33 Equality Act 2010.

[2] paras 3.2 and 3.10 Allocation of accommodation: Guidance for local housing authorities in England, MHCLG, June 2012.

[3] R v Brent LBC ex parte Miyanger (1996) 29 HLR 628, QBD.

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