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Benefits for non-UK nationals

If you come to live in the United Kingdom you may be eligible for financial help. To get this help you must be able to prove residency and that you are registered as a worker.

Benefits for non-UK nationals

Benefits you may be able to get are:

  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Housing Benefit/Rate Relief
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Carers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Tax Credits

Eligibility

Eligibility for these benefits will depend on;

  • your immigration status
  • if you are looking for employment
  • can apply for benefits in the same way as a UK national

To find out if you are registered or need to register follow the link below

European Economic Area (EEA)

The member states of the European Economic Area (EEA) countries are:

  • Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovak Republic, Romania, Spain, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom (including the Isle of Man and Channel Islands which form part of the Common Travel Area (CTA)).
  • Switzerland is not a member of the EEA but has signed an agreement which allows its citizens the same free movement rights as EEA nationals.

If you are an EEA national and exercising a Treaty right to seek and take up work, you need to show that you have a ‘right to reside’ (can legally live here) and are ‘habitually resident’ (this is the place you normally live) in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland.

From 1 January 2014, before you can claim income based Jobseekers Allowance you must have been living in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland for the three months immediately before making your claim for Jobseekers Allowance.

From 1 April 2014, EEA jobseekers will not be able to claim Housing Benefit (if you are already receiving income based Jobseekers Allowance and Housing Benefit this will not apply to you).

Benefits you may be entitled to

There are different types of non-UK nationals, the following sections tell you about some of the groups and the benefits to which you may be entitled if you are in one of them. This is not a complete list and there may be some exceptions to these rules.

Non-EU Nationals

  • A third country national (nationals of a non-EU country) with limited leave including work permit holders, spouses and civil partners during the two year probationary period generally won’t be able to receive any benefits.

Asylum Seekers

  • For asylum seekers and those who are destitute, for example, you are homeless or can’t buy food, financial support may be provided by the Home Office. For more information follow the link below.
  • Cash Support from the Home Office

Refugees

  • A refugee, or someone who has been granted Humanitarian Protection / Discretionary Leave is eligible to apply for benefits in the same way as a UK national.
  • Customers who have been granted leave to remain in the UK by United Kingdom Border Agency and have gone straight from National Asylum Support Service support in to work can apply for Tax Credits. They are eligible to use the Fast-Track process at their local Social Security or Jobs & Benefits Office when applying.
  • If a refugee satisfies the fast track criteria, Social Security Agency staff can submit a Fast Track claim on behalf of the customer. Agency staff are aware of the Home Office documentation that must be provided and can advise the customer. They can then send the fully completed claim and verified documents to HMRC by courier, preventing any delays to the claim.
  • The Home Office, at the same time as providing the customer with their Home Office documents will follow the current fast track National Insurance Number allocation process arranged with the Social Security Agency, who will in turn, allocate the customer a National Insurance Number.

Follow the link below to check which benefits you may be entitled to.

Persons with indefinite leave

  • A person with indefinite leave to enter or remain will generally have the same access to benefits as UK citizens unless a UK Sponsor has agreed to fund their stay in the UK, which means they won’t be entitled to any benefits.
  • If you are sponsored you will not be allowed to claim income-related benefits for five years from your date of entry into the UK or from the date the sponsorship was signed, (whichever is the later) unless your sponsor dies. If you are not sponsored, follow the link below to check which benefits you may be entitled to.
  • Settling in the UK (GOV.UK website)

EEA Nationals Exercising Treaty Rights

  • An EEA national exercising Treaty rights, for example a worker or self-employed person, is eligible to access benefits on the same basis as UK citizens, provided they meet the relevant eligibility criteria for those benefits. Those who are economically inactive, will not generally be entitled to income-related benefits.
  • Workers restrictions for Bulgarian and Romanian (A2) nationals were lifted from 1 January 2014; this gives them the same workers rights as other EEA nationals. The Seasonal Agricultural Workers scheme also ended on 31 December 2013.
  • Croatia joined the European Union on 1 July 2013. If you are a National of Croatia you will normally be required to obtain a work authorisation document before you commence employment in the United Kingdom. Croatian nationals subject to worker authorisation will not normally be entitled to:
    • Income Support
    • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
    • income-related Employment and Support Allowance; or
    • State Pension Credit

Following 12 months of continuous employment as a registered worker, Croatians will gain full EEA status and will be eligible for benefits on the same basis as existing EEA nationals.

New rules for EEA Nationals and returning UK Nationals

From 1 January 2014, before an EEA National or returning UK National can claim income based Jobseekers Allowance they must have been living in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland for the three months immediately before making your claim for Jobseekers Allowance.

From 1 April 2014, EEA jobseekers will not be able to claim Housing Benefit. If you are already receiving income based Jobseekers Allowance and Housing Benefit this will not apply to you.

Further information

If you are in doubt over which category you fall into or if you need further information, you should contact:

  • your local Social Security/Jobs & Benefits Office or the Employment and Support Allowance Centre
  • the Disability and Carers Service for disability benefits
  • the Northern Ireland Housing Executive or Land and Property Services for help with housing costs / rate relief
  • Her Majesties Revenue and Customs for Tax Credits
  • the UK Border Agency to find out about your immigration status or about working in the UK.

You may also find more useful information on the