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CIH Scotland

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.

From the 1 January 2021 the rights described on this page also apply to European nationals, see details below. Find out more on our Brexit news page.

Who does this page apply to?

Prior to 1 January 2021, EEA nationals could use their EU free movement rights to enter the UK and to access housing and benefits. In most cases they did not require ‘leave’ from the Home Office, so the rights described on this page did not usually apply. But EU free movement rights changed on the 1 January 2021 when the Brexit transition period ended. EEA nationals who enter the UK for the first time on or after 1 January 2021 must apply for leave.

The rights described on this page now apply to any person (whether s/he is an EEA national or not) who:

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.

Many of those who arrive as workers and family members eventually get indefinite leave to remain. Refugees and people who claim asylum successfully also have limited leave but have more 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, if you have limited leave you will not usually have the right to obtain a rented home through the local council, to apply as homeless to the council. Once you get indefinite leave to remain you will usually become eligible.

If have limited leave you cannot usually get universal credit (UC) or (if you are aged 66 or over) housing benefit (HB) unless:

  • you are a refugee, or have been given leave with recourse to public funds via special rules;
  • you are the partner of a British citizen or other settled person and you have to leave them due to domestic abuse you can apply to get access to UC/HB for up to three months (the ‘domestic violence concession’). This is intended to allow you time to apply for indefinite leave;
  • you are a citizen of certain European countries aged 66 or over and you are habitually resident you can claim HB to help pay your rent (even if your leave has a ‘no public funds’ condition). (But if you are younger you cannot get UC unless you claimed it before 1 January 2021.)

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 can apply for accommodation from a private landlord and you can find out how to do this here.

More Information

Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland