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People From Abroad

Immigration status

Everyone in the UK has an immigration status. You are either subject to or not subject to immigration control.

People not subject to immigration control

If you are a national of another country you may lawfully live, work or settle in the UK only if you have been given permission to do so by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND). The type of permission you have been given affects whether you are eligible to claim benefits and receive help as a homeless person. In addition, all applicants need to pass a habitual residence test.

People who are subject to immigration control

You are subject to immigration control if you are a national of a country other than those within the European Economic Area. This means that you may only lawfully live, work and settle in the UK if you have been given written permission to do so by the IND. Written permission is signified by an endorsement in your passport and is known as Leave to Enter or Remain.

European economic area countries are:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus,Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden Switzerland and United Kingdom.

Croatia joined the EU on 1 July 2013. In some circumstances Croatian nationals may not enjoy all of the same rights as other EEA nationals, for an initial period of five years.

Habitual residence test

The habitual residence test defines whether or not a person is habitually resident in the Common Travel Area, that is the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. It also helps determine entitlement to income support, job seekers' allowance, housing benefit and other benefits.

The test considers:

  • Whether your residence in the UK is of a voluntary and settled nature
  • The length and continuity of your residence
  • Your employment prospects
  • Your reasons or intentions for coming to the UK
  • Your future intentions

Can I get some further help?

This is a complex area and may have implications not only for yourself, but also for your spouse/civil partner and your family/extended family members, if they have moved to the UK with you. We would strongly recommend that you seek advice and information about your eligibility to claim housing benefit and/or council tax support. Specialist information and advice is also available from the Home Office Immigration and Nationality Department and the Refugee Council websites.

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