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EEA nationals and family members

This section provides general information about the eligibility tests that will apply to European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and their family members according to their current immigration position. 

Eligibility for means-tested benefits, such as Universal Credit, is determined by an EEA national's immigration status and, in some cases, whether they are exercising a right to reside or qualifying right to reside. The Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 (as in force on 31 December 2020 and subject to any amendments) will be referred to by benefit assessors to establish whether a person is exercising a right to reside. 

Establishing benefit entitlement is particularly complex for people who have pre-settled status or for people who have a pending EU Settlement Scheme application and are making a new claim. In such cases, it is highly advisable for a person seek advice from a welfare rights adviser for specialist advice. Anyone who is refused benefits should seek advice to find out if the decision 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, such as:  

  • The right to reside as a worker or person who has retained their worker status 
  • The right to reside as a self-employed person or person who has retained their self-employed status 
  • A permanent right of residence   
  • The right to reside as the family member of an EEA national who is exercising a qualifying right to reside
  • The right to reside as a family member who has retained their right to reside, for example, following a divorce or the death of the EEA national
  • The right to reside as 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 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).

The benefit regulations do not allow for pre-settled status to count as a qualifying right to reside. This means that a person with pre-settled status who is not exercising a right to reside, or who only has an initial right of residence or the right to reside as a jobseeker or Zambrano carer, will be ineligible for benefits. However, the question of whether the Universal Credit eligibility regulations unlawfully prevent people from being able to rely on their pre-settled status as a qualifying right to reside is currently being considered by the Supreme Court. Anyone with pre-settled status who has recently been refused benefits, or who has not yet applied, should seek advice from an welfare rights adviser about what they can do now. For more information, see the Child Poverty Action Group's summary of the case, which also includes a link to a useful note for applicants and benefits advisers. 

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. A right to reside 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 EU Settlement Scheme application made after the deadline of 30 June 2021

If a person is already receiving benefits, these should continue if they have made a late application to the EU Settlement Scheme within the timeframes given in any reminder letters sent by the Home Office or DWP. 

A person will not be eligible if they make a new benefit claim. They will be 'subject to immigration control' and excluded from claiming public funds (benefits and housing assistance).

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

If a person is already receiving benefits, they will receive reminders from the Home Office and DWP to make a late application to the EU Settlement Scheme. If they do not take action within the timeframes that are given then they risk having their benefits stopped. 

A person will not be eligible if they make a new benefit claim. They will be 'subject to immigration control' and excluded from claiming public funds (benefits and housing assistance).

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). 

However, an exemption may allow nationals of some EEA states to claim Housing Benefit or Pension Credit whilst they have leave that is subject to the NRPF condition. This exemption does not apply to Universal Credit. For more information, see the Child Poverty Action Group's article about advising EEA nationals.

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.