Refugees and others in the UK for protection - Can I claim benefits?

Last reviewed 19 June 2023

Can I claim benefits?

In most cases you will be able to claim benefits if you have refugee leave or other leave to be in the UK because the UK government has accepted it is not safe for you to be in the country where you used to live. Other rules may also apply to mean that you can get benefits sooner or in circumstances where you would not otherwise be able to be paid particular benefits.  

If you have applied for asylum, but you have not yet had a final decision on your application, or the final decision was to refuse you all leave, this guide does not cover your situation - instead see our guide for Asylum Seekers.

If you do not know whether you have been granted leave to be in the UK, or you are not sure what leave you have, you need to get immigration advice before you claim any benefits, and before you are included in anyone else’s claim. 

You are not a person subject to immigration control and can claim welfare benefits and tax credits if you have: 

  • Refugee leave 
  • Humanitarian protection 
  • Leave under one of the Afghan resettlement or relocation schemes  
  • Leave under the Ukraine Family Scheme or the Homes for Ukraine Scheme   
  • Leave outside the Immigration Rules, for example discretionary leave, unless your leave is subject to a ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ condition (get immigration advice if you are not sure if your leave is subject to a ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ condition).  

You still have to satisfy the other conditions for each benefit, unless specific exemptions to these rules apply.

If you have been working in the UK and have paid sufficient national insurance contributions you may be able to claim . There are no immigration status restrictions for these benefits. 

Being joined by a family member under family re-union rules 

If you have been granted refugee leave or humanitarian protection, you can be joined in the UK by certain family members under ‘family re-union’ rules.  A family member who joins you under these rules is not a ‘person subject to immigration control’ and can claim benefits that they are entitled to during their period of leave. The family member is also exempt from the past presence test and habitual residence test for disability and carer benefits. 

Get advice from the immigration adviser who helped you with your asylum claim, if you want to bring your family members to the UK. 


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