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Home Advice for Parents & CarersBenefits for carers of disabled adults What can I claim if I am not a British citizen or I have recently come to the UK?

What can I claim if I am not a British citizen or I have recently come to the UK?

Last updated: 14 Dec 2021

Coronavirus: there are no major changes to how your immigration status affects your benefits. However, in England, you may be able to get free school meals even if you don’t normally qualify.

If you are not a British citizen, you may not be able to claim all the benefits and Tax Credits mentioned on this website. Sometimes, this can also apply to you if you were born in the UK, depending on your immigration status, and sometimes, British citizens returning to the UK can find they are not able to claim.

The rules which can prevent you claiming are complicated, and you may be able to claim some benefits but not others.

I’m an EEA national/family member of an EEA national

If you are an EEA national or the family member of an EEA national, you may be able to claim some benefits. Other benefits will depend on how long you have been here, what the EEA national has been doing in the UK and/or whether or not you have settled status. You can claim any contribution-based benefits which apply to your circumstances (for example New-Style Jobseeker’s Allowance).

In some situations (for example if you do not have access to benefits but your partner does), your partner may be able to claim benefits instead, but you may find the calculation of the benefit doesn’t include anything for you because of your status and/or what you or the EEA national have been doing in the UK.

I’m not an EEA national or a British Citizen

If you are a third country national (not a British citizen and not an EEA national or EEA family member), then whether you can claim benefits, and which ones, will depend on your immigration status. If you have a no recourse to public funds (NRPF) restriction, you should not claim public funds as this can be a breach of your immigration conditions. In any case, you will find that you are not entitled to many benefits. A tool to help you find out what support you can get is available on the NRPF Network website.

You can still claim financial support that is not classified as a ‘public fund’:

If you have a partner who doesn’t have a public funds restriction, they may be able to claim benefits, as long as they don’t receive extra because you live with them. In some circumstances, you can apply for a public funds restriction to be lifted. There is more information about this on the NRPF Network website. You can also check whether other public services are part of public funds here.

If you need advice about this, or any immigration issue, you should only get immigration advice from a registered immigration adviser Working Families does not give immigration advice. You can find a registered immigration adviser here.

I’m a British citizen who has recently come to the UK

If you are a British citizen who is turned down for benefits because you have only recently returned to the UK, you should get further advice.

How can I get further advice?

In any of these circumstances, if you are turned down for benefits or you want to get advice before making a claim, you could ask your local Citizens Advice service or search for a local adviser on Advice Local.

This advice applies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you live in another part of the UK, the law may differ. Please call our helpline for more details.

If you have further questions and would like to contact our advice team please use our advice contact form below or call us.

Advice contact form



The information on the law contained on this site is provided free of charge and does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. If you are not a solicitor, you are advised to obtain specific legal advice about your case or matter and not to rely solely on this information. Law and guidance is changing regularly in this area.