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Proving your immigration status and intention to settle in the UK when claiming benefits

If you come to the UK from abroad and want to claim certain benefits, you must satisfy the conditions of a test, known as the habitual residence test (HRT). To satisfy these conditions, you must prove:

  • you have a legal right to be in the UK and claim these benefits. This is called the right to reside and
  • you intend to settle in the UK, Isle of Man, Channel Islands or Ireland and make it your home for the time being. This is known as habitual residence.

This applies to British nationals returning to the UK after time abroad, as well as people coming to the UK from other countries.

It is important you give the decision makers as much evidence as possible to increase your chances of satisfying the conditions. This page tells you about what evidence you should try to provide to help your case.

Getting advice

Proving your right to reside and intention to settle in the UK can be difficult. If you're unsure about anything seek the help of an adviser.

If you need more help

The decision-making process

When you fill in your benefits claim form, you will answer questions about your nationality and time you have spent outside the UK. You may then be sent another form which asks questions about your time spent in and out of the UK.

On this form you must provide evidence of your right to reside and intention to settle in the UK and make it your home for the time being.

You might also be asked to prove why you don't need to satisfy the conditions at all. A decision maker will look at these answers to decide whether you meet the conditions of the test.

Immigration control

If you're subject to immigration control you can't claim benefits. Making a claim may affect your right to stay in the UK.

This may be the case if you:

  • need permission to enter or remain in the UK but don't yet have it
  • have permission to enter or remain in the UK only if you don't claim benefits or use other public services
  • were given permission to enter or remain in the UK because someone formally agreed to support you.

If you are subject to immigration control

What evidence should you include

Your evidence may include:

  • immigration status document
  • passport
  • birth certificates
  • marriage certificate
  • statements from relatives to confirm a relationship
  • permit for family members
  • Home Office registration certificates or cards
  • if you're working, a letter confirming your employment or copy of your contract of employment or payslips
  • HMRC forms showing employment e.g. P45, P60
  • if you've signed on as a jobseeker, a confirmation letter from Jobcentre Plus or employment agency
  • if you're self-employed, a letter confirming you’ve registered with HMRC
  • if you're a former worker, proof of former work and the reason for leaving. For example, a redundancy letter
  • if you're supporting yourself financially, evidence of your private health insurance
  • if you're on sick leave, a doctor’s note
  • a letter from your child’s school to confirm they are registered.

Asking for proof

If you've made every effort to get the evidence you need but haven't been able to get hold of it, ask the Home Office or DWP if they can provide it for you.

For example, if you are relying on your status as a family member but the relationship has broken down, they may be able to find proof of your links to that person.

Evidence to prove you're intending to settle in the UK

To prove you intend to settle here for the time being, you will need to show you are making the UK the centre of your life. To help you do this you should give full written details of:

  • why you are in the UK
  • how long you’ve been out of the UK
  • how long you intend to stay
  • what ties you have with the UK
  • what family you have in the UK
  • any property you own in the UK
  • details of children enrolled in school
  • any clubs or societies you've joined
  • whether you've registered with a GP
  • whether you have a job, or if you're looking for work, how likely it is that you will find work.

Try to provide official documents that back up every statement you make. For example:

  • a letter from a school confirming your child is enrolled there
  • official documents that confirm you own property in the UK
  • flight or travel tickets showing when you came into the UK
  • proof that you've sold a property abroad or have given up a tenancy
  • a letter from a bank in the country you've left that shows your account has been closed.

You should send original documents or consider getting authorised copies of documents from the organisation that issued them. An authorised copy is a photocopy of your original document, stamped and signed by the organisation, to confirm the copy is genuine.

Next steps

Other useful information

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