Rights and entitlements of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK

The UK Government website has a published guide for new refugees that can be found here.

Citizens Advice’s website has a useful explanation of what you should expect after you get refugee status—that can be found here.

I am a refugee, can I access benefits in the UK?

Refugees have a right to apply for welfare in the UK, in line with nationals in the country. More information can be found here.

I am a refugee, can I work in the UK?

If you are a refugee, you will be able to work in the UK without any restrictions. You will just need your National Insurance number – this is a unique set of letters and numbers that is printed on your Biometric Resident Permit card. More information can be found here in Chapter 4.

Can I get financial and housing support if I am an asylum seeker?

If you are an asylum seeker that has a claim pending or if even if you have been refused asylum, you may be eligible for asylum support.

The three main types of support available are: section 95, section 98 and section 4 support. With this support, you may be eligible for housing and financial assistance, or both.

Section 95 Support

You are eligible for section 95 support if you are an asylum seeker with a pending asylum claim and you are over 18 years old and you pass the destitution test. A person is ‘destitute’ if they do not have adequate accommodation or enough money to meet living expenses for themselves and any dependants now or within the next 14 days.

For more information, please refer to the Asylum Support Appeals Project (ASAP) Factsheet on Section 95 Support.

Section 98 Support

Section 98 is temporary support that is provided to asylum seekers who appear to be destitute and who have applied for section 95 support but are awaiting a decision.

For more information, please refer to the ASAP Factsheet on Section 98 Support.

Section 4 Support

Section 4 support is available for refused asylum seekers that meet a certain set of criteria in addition to passing the destitution test.

For more information on the eligibility criteria and the process for this support, please refer to the ASAP Factsheet on Section 4 Support.

More information on Asylum Support can be found through the UK Government website here.

Can I work if I am an asylum seeker in the UK?

The majority of asylum-seekers do not have the right to work in the United Kingdom. However, the immigration rules allow for people seeking asylum to request permission to work if you have been waiting for more than 12 months on your asylum claim “through no fault of your own”. This may be 12 months after initially claiming asylum, or 12 months after submitting further submissions to be considered as a fresh claim. Those who are given permission can only do skilled jobs on the Shortage Occupation List.

The Migration Justice Project at the Law Centre NI has drafted a guide to help people seeking asylum understand how and whether they can apply for permission to work while their claim is pending. The guide is available in a number of languages: EnglishTigrinyaSomaliFarsi, and Arabic.

Asylum seekers can however volunteer whilst their claim is being considered. Volunteering involves spending time, unpaid, doing something that aims to benefit the environment or someone (individuals or groups) other than, or in addition to, close relatives.

Related information

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