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Overview

The immigration status of a person who is not a British citizen and who holds the nationality of a country that is outside of the European Economic Area (a non-EEA national), will determine whether they are able to access public funds.

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

  • Certain benefits 
  • Homelessness assistance 
  • A local authority allocation of social housing

For a full list of applicable benefits, see our information about benefits that are public funds

Other publicly funded services are not classed as 'public funds’ for immigration purposes, although some may have eligibility requirements relating to a person’s nationality or immigration status. Therefore, establishing a person’s immigration status will often be necessary to work out whether they can access a service when this is not universally available. 

A person who is a non-EEA national is usually required to obtain leave to enter or remain in the UK under the Immigration Rules. Leave to enter or remain may have conditions imposed on it relating to work and access to public funds. When a person is subject to the ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) condition, they will not be able to access benefits or housing assistance, unless an exception applies. In some cases, exceptions may apply to couples in ‘mixed households’, where one person is subject to the NRPF condition and their partner is not. 

When a person who is a non-EEA national holds a type of leave to enter or remain that is not subject to the NRPF condition, they are often described as having recourse to public funds and can claim benefits and housing assistance if they qualify for these. 

A person who is subject to the NRPF condition may be able to access other publicly funded services, depending on the eligibility requirements. 

Services that are not classed as public funds for immigration purposes should not be refused to a person because they are subject to the NRPF condition unless there eligibility requirements that specifically require the person to recourse to public funds. 

A person who is the national of a country that is a member of the European Economic Area (an EEA national), is not subject to the NRPF condition but may be described as having no recourse to public funds if they are not eligible for benefits or housing assistance. 

When a person with no recourse to public funds is destitute or at risk of homelessness, they cannot rely on the benefit safety-net or homelessness assistance from their local council. The accommodation options that may be available to them are set out in our information about support options for people with NRPF