UK benefits: What foreign nationals can claim
Always wanted to know what benefits you are entitled to claim in the UK, as foreign national? You might be surprised to find out that there are some benefits you do have access to.
UK Immigration clients are mostly aware of the fact that they do not have recourse to UK Public Funds, as it is highlighted in all UK Immigration Rules and Guidances. Their UK Visas and Permits also clearly state that they do not have ‘Recourse to Public Funds’. Foreign nationals, subject to immigration control, are thus not able to claim most benefits, tax credits and housing assistance provided by the UK Government.
Such persons are thus pleasantly surprised to find out that there are some ‘benefits’ they are entitled to claim. The benefits a person are allowed to claim are the ones based on the National Insurance (NI) contributions they make in the UK. UK National Insurance is paid in the same way as UK Income Tax and is based on earnings.
UK National Insurance Benefits
The NI benefits to which a person are entitled as a result of National Insurance contributions include the following;
- Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Incapacity Benefit
- Retirement Pension
- Widow’s Benefit and Bereavement Benefit
- Guardian’s Allowance
- Statutory Maternity Pay
The UK Public Funds
The UK Public Funds that most persons subject to UK Immigration Control, are excluded from, include; among other things;
Income-based jobseeker’s allowance, Income support, Child tax credit, Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, Social fund payment, Child benefits, Housing Benefits, Council Tax Benefits, Council Tax reduction, State Pension Credit, Attendance Allowance, Severe Disablement Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Carer’s Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Allocation of Local Authority Housing, Local Authority Homelessness Assistance and Domestic Rate Relief (Northern Ireland.
Exceptions to UK Public Funds
It is also valuable to note that National Health Service (NHS) treatments are not considered to be public funds, and foreign nationals can make use of it, subject to some provisos. Any migrant who is residing in the United Kingdom holding a valid visa, which was issued for a period exceeding six months will be able to benefit from “free” use of the NHS.
It should be noted, however, that the Home Office has recently introduced an NHS surcharge which is payable by any migrant applying for Leave to Enter/Remain in the United Kingdom for a period exceeding six months. This surcharge is charged at a rate of £200 per applicant per year of leave being granted. EEA nationals and their direct family members (other than those relying on self-sufficiency to demonstrate exercise of treaty rights) are entitled to free use of the NHS without being required to pay the NHS surcharge.
The UK Law requires all children of school going age to have access to education. Due to this requirement, Local Education Authority (LEA) is not considered as ‘UK Public Funds’ for the purposes of the UK Immigration Rules. Foreign national children of compulsory school age, thus have access to state school education.
It is important to note that there are exceptions to foreign nationals not being able to claim UK Public Funds. A person will, for example, not be considered as accessing UK Public Funds if it is their UK or EEA partner or family member receiving the funds they are entitled to.
A further example is child and working tax credits. These are claimed jointly by couples. Where only one person in the couple is subject to UK immigration control, neither will be treated as such, for the tax credit purposes.
It is also valuable to note that some countries have reciprocal agreements with the UK and the European Union, which allow nationals of these countries to claim certain UK Public Funds.
BIC highly recommends that a person in doubt seeks further advice in their unique circumstances.
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