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Refugee leave and humanitarian protection - What benefits can I claim?

This guide gives information on the definition of a refugee, when they can claim benefits and which ones.

What benefits can I claim?

If you have been granted refugee status, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave, (unless it is subject to the condition that you do not have 'recourse to public funds') you have broadly the same rights and entitlements to services as UK citizens and can apply for all welfare benefits and tax credits.  However, you might also qualify for the following benefits help:

Income Support for Refugees studying English

Refugees studying English can receive Income Support. To qualify you must:

  • have been granted refugee leave (not humanitarian protection or discretionary leave); and
  • attend, for more than 15 hours a week, a course for the purpose of learning English in order to gain employment; and
  • have been in Great Britain for not more than 12 months on the date the course began

You can claim Income Support for up to nine months while you are studying, if you meet the above conditions.

It is no longer possible to make new claims for Income Support. 

Backdating tax credits, child benefit and guardian’s allowance

You can claim backdated Tax Credits, Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance if you have been granted refugee leave (not humanitarian protection or discretionary leave).  This can be backdated to the date of your asylum application.

You must claim:

  • backdated tax credits within one month of receiving the Home Office letter granting you leave as a refugee
  • backdated Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance within  three months, of receiving the Home Office letter granting you leave as a refugee

If the Home Office letter is sent to your solicitor, the three or one-month period starts from the date your solicitor receives the letter.

You can claim Tax Credits for a past period you were entitled, even if you are not entitled now. 

The amount of Tax Credits you receive is reduced by the amount of asylum support you’ve received.  This means that your backdated Tax Credits can be cancelled out, if the amount of asylum support is greater than your past entitlement to Tax Credits.  However if you did not receive asylum support or the amount of asylum support was less than your back entitlement to Tax Credits, you can be entitled to an amount of backdated tax credits.

The amount of backdated Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance is not reduced by any asylum support you may have received.

You cannot have Universal Credit backdated, but if you had entitlement to tax credits before your area became a Universal Credit full service area, you may be able to claim backdated tax credits. This can be complicated, and you should get advice.

Further information

The Refugee Council can provide further information and advice to refugees.

 

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