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Asylum Seekers

Key information

This information sheet explains the rules about benefits if you are an asylum seeker.

Applies to: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

NB: This is a very complex area of the law so it is important that you seek specialist advice. You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find a local adviser to help you further.



You can read through this information sheet, or go directly to the sections you want to read by clicking on these links:

What is an asylum seeker?

An asylum seeker is a person waiting for a decision on an asylum application.

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As an asylum seeker you are not entitled to non-contributory benefits like Income Support and Housing Benefit (HB England, Scotland, Wales) (HB Northern Ireland).

Your status will not prevent you from claiming contributory benefits but asylum seekers are unlikely to have the required national insurance contributions to qualify for these benefits - and in the case of Jobseeker's Allowance, they are usually not permitted to work.

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UK Visas and Immigration support

If you are unable to support yourself and your family while your asylum application is being considered, you may be eligible for financial support provided by UK Visas and Immigration to buy essentials such as food, clothing and toiletries and/or suitable housing. If UK Visas and Immigration provide you with housing, you will have no choice about where you live and it will not be in London or the South East.

Cash support

Cash support for asylum seekers from UK Visas and Immigration is less generous than mainstream benefit rates from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The current rates of support are:

  • Qualifying couple (married or in a civil partnership): £72.52
  • Lone parent aged 18 or over: £43.94
  • Single person aged 18 or over (not lone parent): £36.62
  • Single person aged 16/17: £39.80
  • Person aged under 16: £52.96

If you are a woman who is pregnant or with children under three, you can receive extra money to help you buy healthy food:

  • Pregnant women receive an extra £3 a week
  • A baby under the age of 12 months receives an extra £5 a week
  • Children aged between one and three years receive an extra £3 a week

If you are pregnant, you may also be able to receive a one-off £300 maternity payment, if you meet certain requirements. This money is to help you with the costs of having the baby.

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How to apply for support

Each asylum seeker will have a 'case owner'. If you are eligible to receive support, and sign an agreement to say you will obey the conditions upon which the support is provided, your case owner will arrange for you to collect money from a post office near where you live.
To collect your cash support, you must show your asylum application registration card.

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After the asylum decision

Asylum seekers who are granted refugee status, or given ‘Humanitarian Protection’ or ‘Discretionary Leave’, are able to claim benefits if they satisfy the usual conditions. See Refugees.

Asylum seekers who have had their application rejected and are waiting to leave the UK should contact one of the UK Visas and Immigration regional asylum support teams (link opens in a new window)  if they need short-term support.

See the Refugee Council leaflet, Are_you_destitute_at_the_end_of_your_asylum_process?_(link_opens_in_a_new_window_PDF_file_size_99kb)  

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Further information

For further details about the support available to asylum seekers including information about housing, education, health and employment visit the UK Visas and Immigration information on asylum support (link opens in a new window).

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Last updated: 2 April 2014

Find an Adviser

Use our Find an Adviser tool to find a specialist adviser in your area.

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