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 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 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 here.
You can still claim financial support that is not classified as a ‘public fund’:
- all contributory benefits (for example, Jobseeker’s Allowance)
- all statutory payments (for example, Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay)
- Maternity Allowance
- Some help with childcare costs (for example, the 15 free hours in England for three and four year olds are not part of public funds, but you cannot get the additional 15 hours and you cannot apply for tax-free childcare).
You can check whether other public services are part of public funds here. 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 here.
If you need advice about this, or any immigration issue, remember that 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.
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.