Can I access UK public funds due to COVID-19?

If you have a temporary visa that allows you to live in the United Kingdom, it may include the “no recourse to public funds” condition. This means that you are not able to claim most benefits that are paid by the UK Government.

On 23 April 2020, the UK Government published guidance outlining the support available to migrants with “no recourse to public funds”. This article summarises the support offered by the state.

If you currently hold a UK family or private life visa, you can make a “Change of Conditions” application to access UK public funds if:

– You are destitute or at risk of destitution;

– Your child’s welfare is at risk due to low income;

– You are in other exceptional financial circumstances.

When considering making such an application, you ought be aware of the fact that removing “no recourse to public funds” condition would not only place you on the 10 years’ route towards settlement in the UK, but also, if you manage to change it back to 5 years’ route towards settlement, your clock will start from 0.

If you need a medical treatment in the UK (including being tested for the virus and result comes back negative), you will not have to pay for diagnosis of treatment of coronavirus (COVID-19). If you have a medical condition that makes you vulnerable to coronavirus, you can get help, such as deliveries of medication and food.

If you are employed in the UK, you may be able to access:

– Statutory Sick Pay;

– Contributory Employment and Support Allowance;

– Support provided to employers through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

If you are registered as self-employed, you may be able to apply for a grant through the Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme.

If you cannot afford rent, the landlord cannot initiate all eviction and possession proceedings, which have now been suspended for 90 days from 27 March 2020. Mortgage lenders offer repayment holidays of 3 months if you are in financial difficulty due to COVID-19 and cannot afford mortgage payments.

Asylum seekers may be able to get housing and money to support themselves and their family members while waiting to find out if they would be granted asylum.

If you are concerned about your immigration status in the United Kingdom, please do not hesitate to contact our Immigration Team for guidance.