After you get refugee status
If you’ve claimed asylum and been given refugee status, Asylum Support and 'section 4' support will stop 28 days after the decision.
This means you’ll:
- stop getting your cash allowance (usually £37.75 per week)
- have to move house - if you’ve been given somewhere to live as an asylum seeker
Once you’ve got refugee status, you’ll get permission to work in the UK - in any profession and at any skill level. If you’re not ready or able to look for work and have very little or no income, you can apply for benefits instead.
You’ll also have to think about opening a bank account and getting a National Insurance number.
Contact your local Citizens Advice for help with benefits and housing, and to get details of local charities, English language schools and community groups.
Find a new home
If you’ve been living somewhere as part of getting Asylum Support, you’ll have to move within 28 days of getting refugee status.
If you’re already living with friends or family, you don’t need to move - but you won’t be able to claim Housing Benefit, and it could affect other benefits you might get. If your friends or family are claiming Housing Benefit, it might mean they receive less.
Talk to someone at your local Citizens Advice for more information.
If you can’t pay for housing yourself
Contact your local council or housing office as soon as you can. The Home Office don’t provide accommodation to refugees, but your local council will be able to talk you through your options.
Whether you can stay in the same area depends on things like:
- how long you’ve lived there
- if you have family in the area
- if you’re at risk of becoming homeless
It’s worth knowing there are long waiting lists for accommodation - you might be put in a bed and breakfast (B&B) or hostel temporarily.
If you’re worried about becoming homeless, call the homeless charity Shelter on 0808 800 4444.
In England, you can also search online through Homeless Link to find emergency accommodation yourself.
In Scotland, find out what to do in an emergency on Shelter Scotland's website.
You can apply for Housing Benefit if you can’t afford to pay the rent yourself - it doesn’t matter whether the local council found your place or if you found it yourself. Housing Benefit can take up to 6 weeks to come through.
Housing Benefit might not cover all of your rent, but you won’t usually have to pay a deposit.
If the local council finds you private accommodation through Housing Benefit, you might have to pay. Contact the housing charity Crisis if you need help paying a deposit.
If you’re ready to look for work, you can search online.
If you’re in London, the Refugee Council’s employment advice and support service have a course that will help you if you’re not quite sure where to start.
Contact UK NARIC if you have qualifications from your home country - you’ll need to find their UK equivalent to find a similar job here. It costs at least £55.20 to do this.
You might be entitled to benefits in the UK even though you’ll stop getting Asylum Support.
You might be entitled to benefits like:
- Income Support - if you’re learning English (for at least 15 hours a week) in order to find employment, and you’ve been in the UK less than a year
- Jobseeker’s Allowance - if you can prove you’re looking for work
- Employment and Support Allowance - if you’re unable to look for work because of a mental or physical disability
- Pension Credit - if you’re over working age
- Universal Credit
- a refugee integration loan - to help pay for a rent deposit, household items, education and training for work
Contact your local Citizens Advice for help with applying for benefits.
You’ll need a National Insurance number to claim benefits - you’ll have applied for one at your interview with the Home Office when you first claimed asylum. You’ll also need it to pay tax and register with a doctor.
Get a National Insurance number
Normally, you’ll get your National Insurance (NI) number through the post just after you get refugee status.
If you haven’t received a NI number, call the National Insurance number application line. Ask whether they’ve issued you with a NI number - if they haven’t, ask what you need to do to get one.
Opening a bank account
Now that you have an immigration status, you’re allowed to open a UK bank account. It makes things like paying for food and bills much easier.
It should be an easy process if you have proof of your immigration status, but some banks might not have seen a biometric residence permit before. It’s a legal and valid form of identification (ID), no matter what they tell you. If they don’t accept it, print this page out and take it along to the bank.
It’s easier to open a Post Office card account, as they don’t ask for so many forms of ID. You should only apply for a Post Office card account if you can’t get a bank or building society account - find out more about Post Office card accounts.