If you have ‘limited leave to enter' or 'limited leave to remain in the UK', you may see this on your residence card: ‘no public funds’. This means you cannot claim welfare benefits or access certain public services. If you do, you are committing a criminal offence, which will not help you in any future immigration applications.
The ‘no public funds’ applies whether you are here on human rights grounds or a route specified in the UK’s Immigration Rules. You cannot access public funds until you are granted Indefinite Leave to Remain after living here continuously and legally for five or ten years.
Almost everyone with ‘limited leave to remain’ cannot claim public funds, for example, those here as the partner, child or parent of a settled person or British citizen. Skilled Workers and students are also included.
In immigration law, public funds are:
It is possible to ask the Home Office to grant you access to funds, if you are in the UK on human rights grounds – also known as the Ten Year Route to Settlement - you can do this by applying for a ‘change of conditions’.
You will have to show that:
There are some exceptions for nationals of Algeria, Croatia, Morocco, San Marino, Tunisia and Turkey in relation to tax credits.
More women than men make applications to access public funds. Their relationship may have broken down, and they have left the family home with their children. They may have no money at all. Sometimes, illness stops people from working, or they have lost their job.
It is possible to use certain public services and claim some benefits as follows:
It is worth considering making a change of conditions application to access public funds if you are in a difficult financial position, particularly if children are involved.
As with all Home Office applications, you will need to provide as much evidence as possible that you cannot manage without public funds.
Please contact our team if you are concerned about any of the issues raised in this article.