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Overview

This section provides information about how the immigration status of a person who is not a British citizen (a non-UK national) will determine whether they are able to access public funds.

Immigration conditions

Non-UK nationals are required to obtain leave to enter or remain in order to live in the UK, unless they have the right of abode or are exempt from immigration control. This includes European Economic Area nationals

When leave to enter or remain is granted, conditions may be imposed on the person relating to their ability to undertake employment and access to public funds. Different conditions apply depending on the type of leave that the person has been granted. When limited leave to enter is granted to a person to visit, study, work, or join family in the UK, they will have the ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF) condition imposed. A person who does not have any leave to enter or remain when they are required to have this will also have no recourse to public funds.

Public funds

For immigration purposes, the term ‘public funds’ only applies to: 

  • Certain benefits 
  • Homelessness assistance under Part VII of the Housing Act 1996 
  • A local authority allocation of social housing under Part VI of the Housing Act 1996

A person with no recourse to public funds may be able to claim a benefit or service that is not on the list of excluded public funds, if they meet the qualifying requirements. However, some services may have immigration-related eligibility requirements, which usually relate to the type of immigration permission the person has.

The Home Office guidance on public funds does not list all of the benefits and services that a person who has no recourse to public funds may be able to access. 

Our rights and entitlements information focuses on when non-UK nationals, particularly those who have no recourse to public funds, can access government and council services. More information about the benefits that are public funds and when exceptions apply can be found in the section on benefits and housing (public funds). The accommodation options that may be available to a person who has no recourse to public funds when they are destitute or at risk of homelessness are set out in the section on support options for people with NRPF.

The Home Office guidance on public funds does not provide a comprehensive list all of the benefits and services that a person who has no recourse to public funds may be able to claim. For more information about the eligibility rules for commonly accessed services, see the rights and entitlements section of this website