Eligibility for homelessness assistance of British and Irish citizens and their family members

The rules on eligibility for homelessness assistance of British and Irish citizens and their family members.

This content applies to England

British and Irish citizens

British and Irish citizens are eligible for homelessness assistance if they are habitually resident in the Common Travel Area.

The Common Travel area is the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland.[1]

Irish citizens are not subject to immigration control and do not require leave to enter or remain in the UK.[2] They can choose to apply to the EU settlement scheme. If they do not apply their eligibility for homelessness assistance is unaffected.

Family members of British citizens

Most family members of British citizens must have their own immigration status that makes them eligible for homeless assistance.

Family members of British citizens, including spouses, partners, parents and other relatives, do not become eligible for homeless assistance because of their connection to a British person. The Eligibility Regulations do not make special provisions for family members of British citizens.[3] Family members of British citizens returning from another EEA state to live with the British citizen in the UK are an exception, because they may be eligible under retained EU law.

If an eligible British citizen makes a homeless application and relies on homelessness or priority need of an ineligible household member, the local authority must accept the application. The household may be entitled to assistance under the restricted case provision.[4]

Depending on their circumstances, a person who is not eligible for help from the council housing department may qualify for assistance from social services if they have children or care needs. Asylum seekers may be entitled to accommodation from the Home Office.

If the family member's current immigration status does not make them eligible and they need advice on applying for a different one, they should contact an authorised immigration adviser or a qualified solicitor.

Family members of returning British citizens (Surinder Singh)

A family member of a British citizen returning from an EEA state may be treated as lawfully resident in the UK and eligible for homelessness assistance under retained EU law. This is the case even if they do not have their own immigration status that makes them eligible.[5] This is commonly referred to as the Surinder Singh route.[6]

The deadlines for returning to the UK depend on when the relationship between the British citizen and the family member was formed:[7]

  • 31 December 2020 for relationships formed after 31 January 2020

  • 29 March 2022 for relationships formed before 1 February 2020

Under retained EU law, a family member of a British citizen returning from an EEA state may qualify under the Surinder Singh route if:

  • the British citizen had a right to reside under EU law in the EEA state they are returning from

  • the family member resided with the British citizen in the EEA state

  • their residence in the EEA state was genuine

Before 31 December 2020, the returning British citizen had to:

  • be a qualified person under retained EU law in the EEA state where they were returning from when they return to the UK

  • have transferred their centre of life to the EEA state they were residing in

From 1 January 2021, this is no longer the case.[8]

Right to reside in the EEA state

Under retained EU law, the British citizen must have resided in the EEA as either:[9]

  • a qualified person, for at least three months immediately before returning to the UK

  • someone with a permanent right to reside

A qualified person in this case includes workers, self-employed people, self-sufficient people or students. It does not include jobseekers.

Family member resided with the British citizen in another EEA state

The family member or extended family member must have lived with the British citizen in an EEA state and:[10]

  • their joint residence there was genuine, and not set up to circumvent UK immigration rules

  • they were a family member or extended family member of the British citizen under EU law during all or part of their joint residence in the EEA state, and

  • genuine family life was created or strengthened during their joint residence in the EEA State

Genuine residence in an EEA state

Under retained EU law, factors to be taken into consideration when deciding if residence in another EEA member state was genuine include:[11]

  • the length of joint residence in that EEA state

  • the degree of their integration in that EEA member state

  • whether the family member's first lawful residence in the EU with the British citizen was in that EEA state

  • the nature and quality of the household's accommodation there, and whether this was the British national's principal residence

Family permit

Following the UK's departure from the EU, if a family member wants to live in the UK, a family permit from the Home Office may be required.

Advice about applying to the Home Office is an immigration matter which can only be delivered by an authorised immigration adviser or a qualified solicitor.

Primary carers of British citizens (Zambrano)

Until 30 June 2021, a primary carer of a British child or a dependent British adult could be treated as lawfully resident under retained EU law if:[12]

  • they were not an EEA national

  • had had no other type of leave to enter or remain in the UK

  • their dependent British family member would be forced to leave the EEA if the primary carer was to leave the UK

People in this category are commonly referred to as Zambrano carers.[13] In the past they could obtain a derivative residence card that proved their right to reside under EU law. These cards are not valid after 30 June 2021.

The government advice is that Zambrano carers who wish to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021 should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Eligibility for homelessness assistance of Zambrano carers

Zambrano carers who applied to the EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021 and are still waiting for a decision can have temporary protection. This does not make them eligible for homelessness assistance, because a right to reside as a Zambrano carer did not confer eligibility before 31 December 2020, so they do not meet the additional criteria under retained EU law to be eligible. They should approach social services for help if they are homeless.

Zambrano carers were eligible for homelessness assistance until 8 November 2012.[14] They should be assisted by social services if they have no means of supporting themselves and their British dependants.[15] There is no transitional protection for Zambrano carers who were entitled to public funds before 8 November 2012.

Zambrano carers may become eligible for homelessness assistance if they obtain:

  • settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme

  • any other immigration status that confers eligibility

Before 8 November 2012, a Zambrano carer who applied for homelessness assistance was eligible for assistance.[16] The High Court held that when assisting a Zambrano carer who was accepted as homeless before 8 November 2012 but subsequently lost their eligibility for housing benefit, the local authority had discretion to charge nominal rent.[17]

The rights of Zambrano carers come from retained EU law.

Immigration advice for Zambrano carers

Zambrano carers who have concerns about their immigration status or would like to apply to the Home Office should seek specialist immigration advice from an authorised immigration adviser or a qualified solicitor.

Family members of people with dual EEA and British citizenship

If an EEA national acquired British citizenship while exercising EU free movement rights in the UK, their family members may be eligible for homelessness assistance under retained EU law.[18]

This would be the case if prior to acquiring British citizenship the dual national:

  • was a qualified person, for example a worker or a self-employed person

  • had a permanent right to reside

For this to apply:

  • the EEA national's country of origin must have joined the EU before they acquired British citizenship, and

  • the EEA national must have been a qualified person at the time they gained British citizenship and ever since

In these circumstances, a family member is eligible if they have:

  • settled status under EU Settlement Scheme

  • temporary protection or pre-settled status under EU Settlement Scheme and meet additional requirements under retained EU law

For more information see People from abroad who are eligible.

Family members of Irish citizens

Irish citizens resident in the UK do not have to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. They are not subject to immigration control.[19]

Irish citizens can choose to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. If they do, their family members come under retained EU law.

Under the rules for EEA nationals and their family members, a family member is eligible for homelessness assistance if they have:

  • settled status under EU Settlement Scheme

  • temporary protection or pre-settled status under EU Settlement Scheme and meet additional requirements under retained EU law

If Irish citizens do not apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, their family members are subject to the same rules as family members of British citizens.

Family members of people from Northern Ireland

Some people can be granted limited leave to remain if they are the family member of a 'relevant person' from Northern Ireland.

A person with this form of leave is eligible for homelessness assistance.

Last updated: 26 April 2021

Footnotes

  • [1]

    s.1(3) Immigration Act 1971.

  • [2]

    s.3ZA Immigration Act 1971, as inserted by s.2 Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020, see also para 7.11 Chapter 7 Homelessness Code of Guidance Homelessness Code of Guidance MHCLG, Feb 2018.

  • [3]

    The Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/1294.

  • [4]

    s.185(4) Housing Act 1996 as amended by s.314 and Sch.15 Housing and Regeneration Act 2008; Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 (Commencement No. 1 and Saving Provisions) Order 2009 SI 2009/415 (C.28); R v Westminster CC, ex p Morris; R v Lambeth LBC ex p Badu [2005] EWCA Civ 1184.

  • [5]

    reg 5(h) The Citizens Rights (Application Deadline and Temporary Protection) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/1209; reg. 9 Immigration EEA Regulations 2016 SI 2016/1052, as amended by Immigration (European Economic Area) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/801 and by reg. 3 Immigration (European Economic Area Nationals) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 SI 2019/468 and by Immigration (European Economic Area) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 SI 2019/1155; Banger (Unmarried Partner of British National: South Africa) [2017] UKUT 125 (IAC) for the UT reference, and Secretary of State for the Home Department v Banger (Citizenship of European Union - Rights of Union citizens to move and reside freely within the territory of the European Union - Judgment) [2018] EUECJ C-89/17; R v Immigration Appeal Tribunal and Surinder Singh, ex parte Secretary of State for Home Department (Freedom of movement for persons) [1992] EUECJ C-370/90.

  • [6]

    R v Immigration Appeal Tribunal and Surinder Singh, ex parte Secretary of State for Home Department (Freedom of movement for persons) [1992] EUECJ C-370/90.

  • [7]

    see the definitions of family member of a qualifying British citizen and date and time of withdrawal in Annex 1 Definitions, Immigration Rules Appendix EU.

  • [8]

    reg 5(h)(i)-(iii) The Citizens Rights (Application Deadline and Temporary Protection) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/1209.

  • [9]

    reg 9(2)(a) Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 SI 2016/1052, as amended by Immigration (European Economic Area) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/801 and by reg. 3 Immigration (European Economic Area Nationals) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 SI 2019/468; R (on the application of Benjamin) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2016] EWHC 1626 (Admin); GA v SSWP (SPC) [2018] UKUT 172 (AAC).

  • [10]

    reg 9(2)(b)-(f) Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 SI 2016/1052, as amended by Immigration (European Economic Area) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/801 and by reg. 3 Immigration (European Economic Area Nationals) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 SI 2019/468 and by Immigration (European Economic Area) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 SI 2019/1155; Kaur v Secretary of State for the Home Department  [2020] EWCA Civ 98.

  • [11]

    reg 9(3) Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 SI 2016/1052, as amended by Immigration (European Economic Area) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/801, reg. 3 Immigration (European Economic Area Nationals) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 SI 2019/468, reg 5(h)(ii) The Citizens’ Rights (Application Deadline and Temporary Protection) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/1209.

  • [12]

    reg 3 The Citizens’ Rights (Application Deadline and Temporary Protection) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/1209; see the definition of a 'person with a Zambrano right to reside' in Immigration Rules Appendix EU; Patel v SSHD [2017] EWCA Civ 2028; Dereci & Ors (European citizenship) [2011] EUECJ C-256/11; see also AM v SSWP and City and County of Swansea Council [2019] UKUT 361 (AAC); reg 16(5) and (8) Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 SI 2016/1052, as amended by Immigration (European Economic Area) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/801; see also DMG Memo 15/18; Ruiz Zambrano (European Citizenship) [2011] EUECJ C-34/09; DM v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (PIP) [2019] UKUT 26 (AAC); see also McCarthy (European Citizenship) [2011] EUECJ C-434/09.

  • [13]

    Ruiz Zambrano (European Citizenship) [2011] EUECJ C-34/09; Article 20 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

  • [14]

    Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/1294, as amended by reg 2 Allocation of Housing and Homelessness (Eligibility) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 SI 2012/2588; Social Security (Habitual Residence)(Amendment) Regulations 2012 SI 2012/2587.

  • [15]

    Sanneh v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Others [2015] EWCA Civ 49.

  • [16]

    Pryce v Southwark LBC and Secretary of State for the Home Department (Intervener) [2012] EWCA Civ 1572.

  • [17]

    s.206 Housing Act 1996; R (on the application of Yekini) v Southwark LBC [2014] EWHC 2096 (Admin).

  • [18]

    see definition of EEA national in reg. 2(1) Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 SI 2016/1052, as amended by Immigration (European Economic Area) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/801; Toufik Lounes v Secretary of State for the Home Department CJEU C-165/16 (14 November 2017); ODS v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (UC) [2019] UKUT 192 (AAC); R (on the application of Zekri) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] EWHC 3058 (Admin); paras 2 and 3(p) Sch 4 The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020 (Consequential, Saving, Transitional and Transitory Provisions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/1309; regs 3(3) and 11(k) The Citizens’ Rights (Application Deadline and Temporary Protection) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 SI 2020/1209.

  • [19]

    s.2(2) Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020.