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EEA nationals and family members

This section provides general information about when European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and their family members will qualify for means-tested benefits, such as Universal Credit. In the first instance, the person's immigration status will need to be identified in order to establish which eligibility requirements will need to be met. Establishing eligibility for benefits can be difficult, especially when a person needs to show that they have a right to reside. If a benefit claim is refused, advice would need to be obtained from a welfare rights adviser to find out if the refusal can be challenged. 

Granted settled status

A person with settled status (indefinite leave to remain) will be eligible if they are habitually resident in the UK. 

Granted pre-settled status

A person with pre-settled status (five years’ limited leave to remain) will need to be exercising a qualifying right to reside to be eligible. For example, a person will have a qualifying right to reside if they can show that they:  

  • Are working or have retained their worker status, such as during a pregnancy - a worker will need to show that they meet the DWP’s minimum earnings threshold for at least three months (the level at which National Insurance contributions start to be paid), or that their work is ‘genuine and effective’ 
  • Are self-employed or have retained their self-employed status 
  • Have a permanent right to reside 
  • Are the family member of an EEA national who is exercising a qualifying right to reside
  • Are a family member who has retained right to reside, which may be possible following a divorce or the death of their EEA family member
  • The primary carer of a child, who is in education and whose parent is an EEA national who has worked in the UK 

A person with pre-settled status will be ineligible for means-tested benefits if one of the following applies to them:

  • They are not exercising a right to reside
  • Their only right to reside is as a jobseeker, Zambrano carer, or initial right of residence

A person who has the right to reside as a jobseeker, a self-sufficient person, a student or their family member, or as the primary carer of a self-sufficient child, will only be able to claim Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit (which is now only available in very limited circumstances).

In December 2021, the Supreme Court found that it is not unlawful on discrimination grounds to exclude pre-settled status from being a qualifying right to reside for the purpose of claiming Universal Credit. This means that people with pre-settled status who do not have a qualifying right to reside will continue to be unable to access means-tested benefits. Anyone with pre-settled status who is refused benefits should seek advice from a benefits adviser. 

In a guidance note for benefit claimants, the Child Poverty Acton Group suggest that there may be other legal arguments that a person who does not have a qualifying right to reside can make in certain exceptional circumstances. Therefore, anyone with pre-settled status who thinks they may not have a qualifying right to reside should still apply and seek advice from a benefits adviser if their claim is refused. 

A person can rely on their pre-settled status in order to meet the residence requirement for Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, and Carer’s Allowance. However, these benefits are not intended to cover a person's basic living or housing costs. 

Pending EU Settlement Scheme application made before the deadline of 30 June 2021

If a person is already receiving benefits, these should continue whilst their EU Settlement Scheme application or any subsequent appeal is pending, so long as the person continues to meet the benefit qualifying criteria. 

A person who needs to make a new benefit claim whilst their EU Settlement Scheme application is pending will only be eligible if they can show that they have both of the following:

  • A right to reside or a permanent right of residence on 31 December 2020 - this can include the right to reside as a jobseeker or an initial right to reside
  • A qualifying right to reside at the time they apply for benefits - see the section on pre-settled status for examples of what counts as a 'qualifying right to reside'

A person who did not have a right to reside on 31 December 2020 will not qualify for benefits whilst their EU Settlement Scheme application is pending.

A person who can show that they had a right to reside on 31 December 2020 will be able to meet the residence requirement for Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Carer’s Allowance. They do not need to be exercising a qualifying right to reside when they apply for one of these benefits. However, these benefits are not intended to cover a person's basic living or housing costs. 

Pending late EU Settlement Scheme application made after the deadline of 30 June 2021

On 6 August 2021, the Government announced that people who make a late application will be granted temporary protection whilst their application is pending. Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) guidance for Housing Benefit assessors suggests that a person will be able to make a new claim for benefits or homelessness assistance once they have evidence that they have made a late application (a Certificate of Application). However, they will need to meet the right to reside tests that apply to a person who made an application before the deadline of 30 June 2021.

Housing Benefit adjudication circular A10/2021, states, at paragraph 12:

‘Where a claimant has received a certificate of application from the Home Office, local authority (LA) Decision Makers should accept that the claimant has submitted a late application which has been verified and validated by the Home Office and treat it the same way as those who submitted an EUSS application before 30 June 2021. These individuals can access [Housing Benefit] and other income related benefits until the outcome of their application has been decided or they have exhausted their appeal rights.’

Was living in the UK by 31 December 2020 but has not applied to the EU Settlement Scheme

If a person was receiving benefits prior to 30 June 2021, they should have received reminders from the Home Office and/or DWP to make a late application to the EU Settlement Scheme. If they do not take action to make an application by the deadlines that are given, then they risk having their benefits stopped. 

A person who has not applied to the EU Settlement Scheme will be 'subject to immigration control' and excluded from claiming public funds (benefits and housing assistance). Therefore they will not be able to make a new claim for benefits. 

Arrived in the UK on or after 1 January 2021

An EEA national who arrived in the UK on or after 1 January 2021 as a visitor or a student, or with a work visa granted under the new points-based system, will be subject to the ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF) condition. They will be 'subject to immigration control' and will be excluded from claiming public funds (benefits and housing assistance), unless an exception applies

Some EEA nationals may enter the UK in order to join a close EEA family member who has settled or pre-settled status. They will have an entitlement to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme if the family relationship existed before 31 December 2020. Non-EEA nationals entering the UK for this purpose will usually be issued with an EUSS Family Permit. A joining family member's benefit entitlement will usually depend on whether the EEA national has settled or pre-settled status, and whether a right to reside test needs to be met.  

Terms

Zambrano carer

Person who is required to be resident in the UK as the primary carer of a British child or dependent adult in order to enable that child/adult to live in the UK.

Habitually resident

Resident in a country/ area for an ‘appreciable period’ (usually of one to three months but can be shorter), with the intention to settle.