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Right to Reside

Your right to reside is your legal right to live in the UK. There are lots of different rights to reside and you may have more than one.

1. What is the right to reside?

Your right to reside is your legal right to live in the UK.  There are lots of different rights to reside and you may have more than one.

You need to have the correct right to reside to claim these benefits:

British citizens

If you are a British citizen, you automatically have the correct right to reside for these benefits.  However, if you are returning to live in the UK after time abroad, you may not be able to claim some benefits straight away.

EEA national

If you are an EEA national, you need to show you have the correct right to reside to claim these benefits.  Read this guide to check which right to reside you have and which benefits you can claim.

Because the UK is leaving the European Union, there is a new scheme to protect the rights of EEA nationals who live in the UK. 

EEA national family member

If you are related to an EEA national who has the correct right to reside, you can be treated as having the same right to reside.  You can be treated as having the same right to reside as your:

  • Spouse or civil partner
  • Child, grandchild or great grandchild if you are financially dependent on them
  • Parent, grandparent  or great grandparent if you are financially dependent on them
  • Parent, grandparent or great grandparent if you are aged under 21

If you are the unmarried partner of an EEA national, you may be able to have the same right to reside they have, but you will need to apply for a registration certificate. There is a fee to pay for this certificate, so you might be better off establishing your own right to reside or applying to the settled status scheme.

Other

If you are not an EEA national or a British citizen, you usually have the right to reside as long as you are not subject to immigration control.  If you are not sure whether you are subject to immigration control, you can use our Advice Finder to find an immigration adviser near you.

2. Types of right to reside

Here is a list of the rights to reside.  Click on the one that applies to you to read more about it.

  • Permanent right of residence - You might have a permanent right of residence if you have been in the UK for at least 5 years, or you are retired or you are too injured or disabled to work.
  • Worker - You might have a right to reside as a worker if you have a job now.   
  • Retained Worker - You might have a right to reside as a retained worker if you had a job before now, or your job is less hours or pay now.
  • Self-employed - You might have a right to reside as a self-employed person if you work for yourself.
  • Retained self-employed - You might have a right to reside as a retained self-employed person if you worked for yourself before now, or your work is less hours or pay now.
  • Initial Right of Residence - You might have an initial right of residence if you have been in the UK for less than 3 months and you have not been working in the UK.
  • Jobseeker - You might have a right to reside as a jobseeker if you have in the UK for more than 3 months and you have not been working in the UK.
  • Self-Sufficient Student - You might be a self-sufficient student if you are studying in the UK and you don’t need any benefits.
  • Self-Sufficient Person - You might be a self-sufficient person if you don’t need any benefits.
  • Derived Right to Reside - You might have a derived right to reside if you look after a child who goes to school in the UK or you care for someone who doesn’t need any benefits for themselves.

3. Settled Status Scheme and benefits

The Settled Status scheme is a new scheme to protect the rights of EEA nationals who are living in the UK.

Because the UK is leaving the EU, the rules about EEA nationals' right to reside won't apply anymore, and the Settled Status scheme's rules will apply instead. 

People with Irish citizenship don't need to apply for settled status.

The Settled Status scheme can give two different statuses

  • Settled Status - this is for people who can show they have been living in the UK for 5 years. Settled status gives full right to reside, so you don't need to evidence right to reside under any other status to be entitled to benefits
  • Pre-Settled Status - this is for people who can show they have been living in the UK for less than 5 years. Pre-settled status doesn't in itself give entitlement to benefits, so you will also need to show you have a right to reside to be able to claim benefits.

It is free to apply for the Settled Status scheme.

The gov.uk website has more information about how to apply for the settled status scheme.

 

4. Permanent right of residence

Which benefits?

If you have a permanent right of residence and you pass the habitual residence test, you can claim:

If you have a permanent right of residence and you are ordinarily resident in the UK, you can claim:

If you have a permanent right of residence, you can use our Benefits Calculator to check how much you’re entitled to.

Do I have a permanent right to reside?

You may have a permanent right of residence if you have had other rights to reside for a continuous period of 5 years. 

To get the total 5 years, you can add together times when you had different rights to reside as long as the gaps between them are not too long.  If you have gaps between your rights to reside that total more than 30 days in a year, you have to start the 5 years again. 

The time that you spent with the following rights to reside can count towards the 5 years:

If you do not have the requisite 5 years, you may have a permanent right of residence if you are retired or permanently incapacitated.  You could have a permanent right of residence if one of these applies to you:

  • you are retired, have lived in the UK for at least three years and worked in the UK for at least one year
  • you were employed in the UK and an accident or a disease caused by your work meant you were too disabled or injured to work again
  • you have worked in the UK for at least two years and you are too disabled or injured to work again
  • you are married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen  and you are too disabled or injured to work again

Once you have a permanent right of residence, you can apply for a UK residence card which will make it easier to claim benefits.  You can find out more about the UK residence card on the government website. Residence cards won't be valid after 31 December 2020.

If you have been living in the UK for five years you should be entitled to Settled Status under the Settled Status scheme. It is free to apply for Settled Status.

5. Worker

Which benefits?

If you have right to reside as a worker, you can claim:

If you have a right to reside as a worker and you are ordinarily resident in the UK, you can claim:

Do I have a right to reside as a worker?

You may have a right to reside as a worker if you are employed and your work is genuine and effective.

Whether your work is genuine and effective depends on:

  • How many hours you work
  • How long you have had your job
  • How much you earn
  • How regular the work is

Examples of work that is not genuine and effective:

  • Work only a few hours per week for less than minimum wage
  • Work lots of hours but only get paid for a few of them
  • Work for a friend or relative for free

If you’re not sure whether your work is genuine and effective, you should seek specialist advice.  You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find an adviser near you.

How long am I a worker?

You stop being a worker when you stop being employed or when your work stops being genuine and effective.

If you have stopped being a worker, you may have show that you have a different right to reside to start or continue your benefit claims.

You can check whether you have another right to reside on our Types of Rights to Reside page.

6. Retained worker

Which benefits?

If you have right to reside as a retained worker, you can claim:

If you have a right to reside as a retained worker and you are ordinarily resident in the UK, you can claim:

Do I have a right to reside as a retained worker?

If you did have a right to reside as a worker but now your job has ended or you work is no longer genuine and effective, you may have a right to reside as a retained worker.

You may be a retained worker if:

  • You receive less or no more shifts and you have started a claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit
  • You were made redundant and you have started a claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit
  • You were unfairly dismissed and you have started a claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit
  • You are attending vocational training (not academic training or studying)
  • You are unwell and will return to work
  • You are injured and will return to work
  • You are in the late stages of pregnancy

If you’re not sure whether your work is genuine and effective, or whether you retain your worker status, you should seek specialist advice.  You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find an adviser near you.

How long am I a retained worker?

You are only a retained worker if it is clear that you will be returning to work.  This is called a “genuine prospect of work”.

If you have worked in the UK for less than one year, you can be a retained worker for a maximum of 6 months as long as you have a genuine prospect of work.

If you have worked in the UK for more than one year, you can be a retained worker for 6 months as long as you have a genuine prospect of work.  After 6 months, you can only continue to be a retained worker if there is compelling evidence that you will be returning to work. 

If you have stopped being a retained worker, you may need to demonstrate that you have a different right to reside to start or continue your benefit claims.  

You can check whether you have another right to reside on our Types of Rights to Reside page.

7. Self-Employed

Which benefits?

If you have right to reside as a self-employed person, you can claim:

If you have a right to reside as a self-employed person and you are ordinarily resident in the UK, you can claim:

Do I have a right to reside as a self-employed person?

You may be self-employed if you work on your own business and your work is genuine and effective.

Whether you work on your own business depends on whether you:

  • Advertise your services
  • Look for opportunities to work
  • Are registered as self-employed with HMRC
  • Keep records of your income and expenses
  • Complete yearly accounts and tax returns for your business
  • Have work equipment
  • Have a website

Whether your work is genuine and effective depends on:

  • How many hours you work
  • How long you have had your job
  • How much you earn
  • How regular the work is

If you’re not sure whether your work is genuine and effective, you should seek specialist advice.  You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find an adviser near you.

How long am I self-employed?

You stop being self-employed when you stop working on your business or when your work stops being genuine and effective.

If you have stopped being self-employed, you may need to show that you have a different right to reside to start or continue your benefit claims.

You can check whether you have another right to reside on our Types of Rights to Reside page.

8. Retained Self-Employed

Which benefits?

If you have right to reside as a retained self-employed person, you can claim:

If you have a right to reside as a retained self-employed person and you are ordinarily resident in the UK, you can claim:

Do I have a right to reside as a retained self-employed person?

If your work has stopped or it is no longer genuine and effective, you may be retained self-employed as long as one of the following applies:

  • You are unwell and will return to work
  • You are injured and will return to work
  • You are in the late stages of pregnancy

If you’re not sure whether your work is genuine and effective, or whether you retain your self-employed status, you should seek specialist advice.  You can use our Find an Adviser tool to find an adviser near you.

How long am I a retained self-employed person?

You are only retained self-employed if it is clear that you will be returning to work.  This is called a “genuine prospect of work”.

If you have worked in the UK for less than one year, you can retain your self-employed status for a maximum of 6 months as long as you have a genuine prospect of work.

If you have worked in the UK for more than one year, you can retain your self-employed status for 6 months as long as you have a genuine prospect of work.  After 6 months, you can only continue to be retain your self-employed status if there is compelling evidence that you will be returning to work. 

If you no longer retain your self-employed status, you may need to show that you have a different right to reside to start or continue your benefit claims.  

You can check whether you have another right to reside on our Types of Rights to Reside page.

9. Initial Right of Residence

Which benefits?

If your only right to reside is an initial right of residence, you will not be able to claim any benefits yet.

Do I have an initial right of residence?

If you are an EEA national, you have an initial right of residence for the first three months that you are in the UK. 

You may have another right to reside at the same time.  For example, if you start working as soon as you arrive in UK, you may have a right to reside as a worker as well as an initial right of residence. 

You can check whether you have another right to reside on our Types of Rights to Reside page.

How long do I have an initial right of residence?

Your initial right of residence lasts for three months from the date that you arrived in the UK.

10. Jobseeker

Which benefits?

If you have a right to reside as a jobseeker, you can claim Child Benefit.

Am I a jobseeker?

You may have a right to reside as a jobseeker if you:

  • Have been in the UK for more than three months
  • Are looking for work
  • Have a genuine prospect of work

If you have been a retained worker, retained self-employed, a self-sufficient student or a self-sufficient person, you cannot have a right to reside as a jobseeker without leaving the UK for some time and giving compelling evidence that you meet the conditions.

How long am I a jobseeker?

You are only a jobseeker if you are likely to work.  This is called a “genuine prospect of work”.

You can be a jobseeker for 91 days.  You will only continue to be a jobseeker if you can give compelling evidence that you have a “genuine prospect of work”.

If your right to reside as a jobseeker ends and you don’t have another right to reside, your benefit claims will stop.  You can check whether you have another right to reside on our Types of Rights to Reside page.

 

11. Derived Right to Reside

Which benefits?

If you have the correct derived right to reside and you pass the habitual residence test, you can claim:

If you have the correct derived right to reside and you are ordinarily resident in the UK, you can claim:

Do I have a derived right to reside?

You may have a derived right to reside if you:

  • Care for an EEA national who is self-sufficient (and does not need benefits)
  • Have worked in the UK and you care for a child who is in school

You also have a derived right to reside if you care for a British citizen, but you cannot claim any benefits with this status.

How long do I have a derived right to reside?

If you care for an EEA national who is self-sufficient, your derived right to reside continues until you stop caring for them.

If you have worked in the UK and you care for a child who is in school, your derived right to reside stops when they leave school, or when they leave your care, whichever is soonest.

If your derived right to reside ends and you don’t have another right to reside, your benefit claims will stop.  You can check whether you have another right to reside on our Types of Rights to Reside page.

12. Returning British Citizen

When can I claim benefits?

If you are a British citizen returning to live in the UK, you can claim the following benefits after a certain amount of time in the country.

Straight away as long as you satisfy the habitual residence test:

Straight away as long as you are ordinarily resident:

After 3 months as long as you are habitually resident:

After 3 months as long as you are ordinarily resident:

After you have been here for 2 out of the last 3 years as long as you are habitually resident:

You can claim statutory and contributory benefits at any time as long as you satisfy the other conditions.

 

Updated: July 2019