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CIH Scotland

New Arrivals


Refugees, asylum seekers and people with discretionary leave and humanitarian protection

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

Are you a refugee or asylum seeker?

This page applies to you if:

However, if you made a claim for asylum but you have not yet had a decision or are waiting for the results of a fresh claim, you are an asylum seeker and the special arrangements for your housing are explained below. If your asylum claim has been finally refused but you have not left the UK you are a refused asylum seeker. This section does not apply to you. You may find some information to help you on the page on people with social care needs or people who are destitute.

Are you a stateless person?

You are a stateless person if you are not recognised as a citizen by the law of any country. A stateless person can be granted leave in the same way as any other non-UK national (e.g. as a student, work permit holder etc.) but can also apply for five years' leave from the Home Office for that reason. The Home Office usually only do this if you do not meet the criteria for asylum or qualify for leave under any other category – although the law does not strictly require this. You can find out more about statelessness and stateless leave here.

Special arrangements for asylum seekers

If you claimed asylum but have not yet received a final decision or you are waiting for the result of an appeal against a refusal of asylum, you cannot get an allocation of housing from the council, or get help if you are homeless.  You can't get universal credit or housing benefit to pay your rent. You can apply direct to a housing association or for private rented accommodation, or you can stay with friends or family.

You can apply to the Home Office for asylum support if you have no money or nowhere to live. The government website explains how, gives details of helplines who can help you do it, and what you will get. Asylum seekers are offered basic housing on a no-choice basis anywhere in the UK and some money to pay for food. This accommodation can be in hotels or army barracks as well as in normal housing, but your rights are still the same. If you already have somewhere to stay and do not need Home Office accommodation, you can still ask for money for food.  

If you have been refused asylum but cannot travel home immediately you can also apply for support and accommodation. Support for refused asylum seekers is paid via a cashless payment card and accommodation is also on a no-choice basis. 

What documents might refugees be asked for?

If you apply for housing or housing benefits you will be asked for:

  • The Immigration Status Document you were given with your asylum decision or when you arrived in the UK. This proves your identity and your eligibility. If you do not have one you will need a letter from the Home Office confirming your eligibility but will also need to prove your identity.
  • If you are leaving asylum support accommodation, the NASS 35 or other form that shows where you have lived and when your support and accommodation ends.
  • If you have applied to renew your leave, a copy of the documents you sent off and the receipt from the Home Office.

What are a refugee's rights to housing and benefits?

You have the right to get free advice and information from your local council (or an organisation they have commissioned to provide it) to help you if you are homeless or if you are threatened with homelessness. The council should assess the support you need to avoid being homeless and also provide the support, which should take account of your needs and the needs of others in your household.

If you made a successful claim for asylum, even though you may have limited leave to remain in the UK, you have the right to apply for an allocation of housing from the council or from a housing association, to get help if you are homeless and to claim universal credit or housing benefit to help pay your rent. You should be offered a tenancy on the same terms as any other applicant, even if you are waiting to renew your leave or it is due to run out soon. You can also apply for private rented housing

If you have been granted limited or indefinite leave as a stateless person you can claim universal credit or housing benefit to help pay your rent and apply for housing or help if you are homeless from the council.

What about your family members?

If you are an asylum seeker or a refused asylum seeker, you can apply for support and accommodation for your husband/wife/civil partner and children if they are living with you.

If you have refugee status, your husband/wife/civil partner and children are covered by your refugee status as well, even if they have just arrived or have not yet sorted out their status, as long as you started your family before your left your home country. So they are all eligible for housing and homelessness services and for universal credit or housing benefit. They can also apply for private rented housing.

If you are a ‘Dubs child’ and arrived with another child for whom you have parental responsibility (e.g. a brother or sister) then they will get the same leave as you and have the same rights.

If you have another type of status your family members may have applied for asylum and arrived in the UK with you and would usually get leave on the same basis as you. If they arrive later, they must apply to stay through the asylum system, and will be asylum seekers until they get leave. This may cause problems with applications for homelessness help and benefits.

See also:

More Information

Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland