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After you get refugee status

This advice applies to Scotland

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.

When you get migrant status, the Home Office will tell Migrant Help. Migrant Help is an organisation that can help you find housing, claim benefits and make an appointment at the Jobcentre. They’ll contact you within 1 working day of being told about your migrant status.

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 need help getting housing

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, you can call the homeless charity Shelter on 0808 800 4444.

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. If you need help paying a deposit, you can search for help to rent schemes through the housing charity Crisis.

Working

If you’re ready to look for work, you can search online.

Contact the Scottish Refugee Council Integration Service if you need help with your employment options.

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.

Claiming benefits

You might be entitled to benefits in the UK even though you’ll stop getting Asylum Support.

You might be entitled to benefits like:

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.

Get more help

GOV.UK has published a guide for new refugees.

It includes guidance on things like:

  • employment and benefits

  • housing and services

  • education

  • healthcare

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