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New Arrivals

People with limited leave

This page is for new arrivals. If you are a housing adviser please click here for information more relevant to you.

Who does this page apply to?

The rights described on this page apply to any person (including EEA nationals) who:

Prior to 1 January 2021, EEA nationals could use their EU free movement rights to enter the UK and to access housing and benefits. After that date, EEA nationals who enter the UK for the first time must apply for leave.

Are you someone with limited leave?

People who are subject to immigration control may get permission (or 'limited leave') to enter or remain in the UK:

  • to work (normally with a work permit)
  • to study
  • to join family members
  • to visit; or
  • as part of a special government programme to assist people without British citizenship (including other British nationals) during a crisis (political, humanitarian, natural disaster, etc). For example, British Overseas nationals from Hong Kong due to the 2020 national security legislation.  

Many of those who arrive as workers and family members eventually get indefinite leave to remain. Refugees, people who claim asylum, arrive on special settlement programmes or who are recognised as being stateless have different rights, explained here.

You may have additional rights to live, work and access housing or benefits other than as described on this page, if you are the partner or parent of a British citizen or a family member of an EEA national.

What documents might you be asked for?

You may be asked to prove that you are legally in the UK, and can do this by showing the relevant immigration status document.

What are your rights to housing and benefits?

Unless you are a refugee, or have been given leave that does not have a ‘no public funds’ condition by special rules,  if you have limited leave you will not usually have the right to join your local council's housing waiting list, or to apply to them as homeless. Once you get indefinite leave to remain you will usually become eligible.

For example, the special rules include the programme for former locally employed support staff to UK forces in Afghanistan through which leave can be granted with or without a ‘no public funds condition’ or British nationals from Hong Kong who can apply to get their 'no public funds' condition lifted.

If have limited leave you cannot usually get universal credit or housing benefit unless:

  • you are a refugee;
  • you have been given leave with recourse to public funds via special rules which includes:
    • you are from Ukraine and have been granted leave under the Ukraine Family Scheme or the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme,
    • you worked as support staff to UK armed forces in Afghanistan,
    • you are a British National (Overseas) from Hong Kong who has successfully applied to have the ‘no public funds’ condition of your leave lifted, or
    • you are a stateless person who has been granted leave for that reason.
  • you are the partner of a British citizen or other settled person and you have to leave them due to domestic violence: you can apply to get access to UC/HB for up to three months (the ‘domestic violence concession’), to allow you time to apply for indefinite leave.
  • you are a citizen of certain European countries and you are habitually resident: you can get help pay your rent and council tax (even if your leave has a ‘no public funds’ condition) but only if:
    • you are claiming CTR, and you make your claim before 1 April 2023
    • you are claiming HB, and you make your claim before 3 May 2022, or
    • you are claiming UC, and you make your claim before 1 January 2021.

Everyone has the right to get free advice and information from their local council (or an organisation they have commissioned to provide it) to help them if they are homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days.  This advice must, in particular, meet the needs of anyone who is or was released from prison or youth detention accommodation, a care leaver, a former member of the regular armed forces, a victim of domestic abuse, leaving hospital, suffering from a mental illness or impairment, and from any other group that the authority identify as being at particular risk of homelessness in their district.

You can apply for accommodation to a housing association, but if your stay in the UK is very short (as a visitor for example) you may be refused as housing associations generally aim to house only those intending to stay in the area for some time. You will also have to show how you will pay your rent.

You can apply for accommodation from a private landlord but if you live in England where 'right to rent' checks apply you will have to show the landlord the documents showing that you have limited leave. You will need to do this before you get the tenancy, and the landlord will check later that your leave has been extended, before renewing the tenancy

Chartered Institute of Housing

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Chartered Institute of Housing