The information below provides an overview of the rules regarding access to public funds for people who are subject to UK immigration control. You can view the complete guidance published by the United Kingdom Border Agency here.

If you are granted access to enter the UK for a limited period of time, one of the conditions that may be stamped into your passport is ‘No recourse to public funds’. Essentially this means that while you are in the UK the conditions of your stay stipulate that you are not able to gain access to public funds - a range of income related benefits, together with housing and homelessness support.

Your passport will be stamped ‘no recourse to public funds’ if you are from a country that is not a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) and:

  • You are applying for limited leave to enter or remain in the UK - for instance, a work permit, student visa or marriage visa or
  • You are currently in the UK with limited leave to enter or remain - for instance on a work permit, student visa or marriage visa; or
  • You are applying for further or indefinite leave to remain in the UK - for example, if you are applying for your work permit to be extended.

What are public funds?

Public funds include:

  • income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • income support
  • child tax credit
  • working tax credit
  • a social fund payment
  • child benefit
  • housing benefit
  • council tax benefit
  • state pension credit
  • attendance allowance
  • severe disablement allowance
  • carer's allowance
  • disability living allowance
  • an allocation of local authority housing
  • local authority homelessness assistance

What happens if I claim funds I am not allowed to receive?

There are very serious penalties if you unlawfully claim any type of benefit or support that counts as a public fund. Claiming public funds illegitimately is a breach of your conditions of entry to the UK, and breaching your conditions of entry is a criminal offence. Ultimately it may mean that your leave to remain in the UK is revoked, and you may also have applications for further or indefinite leave rejected.

What about other benefits and public services?

Public funds do not include the following work-related benefits, which are based on National Insurance contributions:

  • contribution-based jobseeker's allowance
  • incapacity benefit
  • retirement pension
  • widows benefit and bereavement benefit
  • guardian's allowance
  • statutory maternity pay
  • maternity allowance

Healthcare and education also do not count as public funds – although your immigration status may affect whether you are eligible for them.

If you would like to know more about access to public funds and your conditions of entry to the UK, please contact us.