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Family members of British and Irish citizens

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

If you are the partner or child of a British or Irish citizen your rights depend on the immigration status you have.

Partners of British citizens

If you are the family member of a British or Irish citizen or a Commonwealth citizen with the right of abode, you may have limited leave to remain, indefinite leave to remain or some other type of status. Your rights to housing and benefits will depend on what that status is.

If you are the partner of a British citizen or person with settled status and you experienced domestic abuse, you may be able to get the conditions of your leave changed to get access to housing and benefits see here for details. If you have been allowed to re-enter the UK on the grounds that you were deliberately stranded overseas by your spouse/former spouse you are usually entitled to access housing and benefits immediately on your arrival in the UK see here for details.

If you are the family member of a British citizen who lived in an EU member state before 1 February 2020 you may have ‘Surinder Singh rights’ and be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Family members of people born in Northern Ireland

If you are not British and not from the EEA, you can apply to the EU settlement scheme if you are the family member of a ‘person of Northern Ireland’. A ‘person of Northern Ireland’ is someone who was born in Northern Ireland to mother or father who (at that time) was either:

  • a British citizen
  • an Irish citizen; or
  • a person with settled status.

You are the ‘family member’ of a person of Northern Ireland if you are:

  • his/her spouse or civil partner
  • aged under 21 and you are the child, grandchild or great grandchild of that person or of his/her spouse or civil partner; or
  • his/her child, grandchild, great grandchild, parent or grandparent or that of his/her spouse/civil partner and you are dependent on that person’s support for your essential living needs.

From 24 August 2020, you are entitled to universal credit/housing benefit (UC/HB) and to housing and homelessness assistance as a family member if:

If you are claiming UC/HB you are also entitled if the person you accompany has (or would have if s/he was an EU national) some other EEA right to reside, other than as a jobseeker or as the parent of a British child.

Family members and the EU Settlement Scheme

If you have applied for and been granted ‘settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme you have the right to housing and benefits even if you no longer have an EU right to reside.

If you have applied for and been granted ‘pre-settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme you will only have rights to housing and benefits to help with your rent (UC/HB) in line with your EU rights to reside.

Parents of a British child

If you entered the UK before the Brexit transition period ended on 1 January 2021 and at any time before then you were the parent with sole care of a British citizen child,  you had the right to live in the UK if it was the only way your child could remain in the European Union (because you were their only carer).

Your right to reside was derived from EU law and expired on 30 June 2021 unless you made an application to the EU Settlement Scheme on or before then (or you made a late application on or before 8 August 2023 which was accepted). If you were granted or now have EU settled status you have the right to housing and benefits without any restrictions.

If you have EU pre-settled status or your application has not yet been decided your rights to housing and benefits are the same as those that you would have had on or before 30 June 2021. These are:

  • the right to live and work in the UK
  • the right to claim contributory benefits (i.e. those based on your national insurance contributions)

But you are excluded from most other welfare benefits (including universal credit, state pension credit, housing benefit and council tax rebate).

However, you have the right to rent a home from a private landlord, a housing association, to join your local council’s housing waiting list (and be allocated a property) and to get housing assistance from your local council if you are homeless. But in each case, you may need to show your landlord how you can pay your rent (e.g. work, savings, insurance, guarantor).

If you have no income and you need help with housing or housing costs, you can get help from the social work department. You can also apply to the Home Office to vary your leave conditions to allow you to apply for benefits but you should seek advice from a registered immigration adviser before you do this. Once you have EU settled status (usually after five years' residence) you have the same rights as a person with indefinite leave to remain and can get access to benefits without any restrictions.