What Benefits Do Asylum Seekers Get in the UK?
Asylum seekers cannot claim most social benefits in the UK until they have received a final decision about their application.
However, there are benefits and support available from the Home Office if they are able to meet the eligibility criteria.
Administered by the National Asylum Support Service, asylum support is sometimes called NASS support.
Under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, there are three main types of UK asylum seeker benefits you may apply for:
- Section 95 support, if you claim asylum in the UK and are waiting for a decision.
- Section 98 support, if you need temporary emergency support while waiting for a decision on your application for Section 95 benefits.
- Section 4 support, if your asylum claim has been unsuccessful.
The rest of this page will focus on Section 95 benefits, as this is the most common type of support.
- What Benefits Do Asylum Seekers Get in the UK?
- Section 95 Asylum Support Eligibility Criteria
- Section 95 Support for Asylum Seekers
- Housing Support for Asylum Seekers
- Financial Support for Asylum Seekers
- Support for Pregnant Women and Parents of Children Under 3
- Entitlement to NHS Healthcare for Asylum Seekers
- Education Support for Asylum Seekers
- How to Apply for UK Asylum Benefits
- Section 95 Asylum Support Processing Time
- Other Home Office Support for Asylum Seekers
- How Manchester Immigration Lawyers Can Help
- Frequently Asked Questions
Section 95 Asylum Support Eligibility Criteria
You may be eligible for Section 95 support if you are over 18 years old and satisfy one of the following criteria:
- You have claimed asylum in the UK under:
- The Refugee Convention
- Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights
- You are the dependent of an asylum seeker in the UK and have not been included in a support application.
- You are waiting for an asylum appeal decision to be made by the Tribunal, Court of Appeal, Court of Session, or House of Lords.
To be considered a dependent, you must be in the UK and satisfy one of the following criteria:
- A partner or spouse
- A partner who has lived with you as an unmarried couple for at least 2 years out of the 3 years prior to the application date
- A dependent child, or child of your spouse, under the age of 18
- An immediate member of your family, or your spouse’s family, under the age of 18
- Someone under the age of 18 years old who has been living with you since:
- Their birth
- At least 6 months out of 12 months before the support application.
- Someone who receives care from you or someone you live with as a result of a disability and has been living with you since:
- Their birth
- At least 6 months out of the 12-month period prior to the support application
- Someone who lives with you and received support under:
- Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, immediately before 6th December 1999
- Section 22 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, immediately before 3rd April 2000
- Article 18 of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995, immediately before 3rd April 2000
- Someone who has claimed leave to enter or stay in the UK, based on their relationship with you
Please note that dependents who have claimed leave to remain based on the relationship will only be eligible for Section 95 support if they make their own claim for asylum in the UK.
You must also meet the legal test for destitution, showing that you either:
- Do not have sufficient accommodation arrangements in the UK and are unable to fund or arrange suitable accommodation yourself, or
- Have appropriate accommodation arrangements but are otherwise unable to support themselves financially.
In order for your application for Section 95 to be successful, you must show you will meet the test for destitution within 14 days of making your application.
Your asylum claim must be ongoing, meaning you must register your claim for asylum before you apply for Section 95 asylum support. You will not be eligible for support if a decision about your case has been made.
It is important that you make your application for Section 95 as soon as possible following your entry into the UK. If you do not have any dependent children and unreasonably delay your application, the Home Office must refuse your application under Section 55, unless there will be a human rights breach.
If you are claiming for Section 95 support as a dependent of an asylum seeker, you will only be able to include the following people as your dependents on your support application:
- The asylum seeker you are a dependent of
- Other dependents listed on their asylum application
Unaccompanied children under the age of 18 are not eligible for asylum benefits but may be able to obtain support through social services.
Section 95 Support for Asylum Seekers
You can apply for one of the following types of support under Section 95:
- Financial support
- Financial and housing support
You may also be able to access other benefits, including healthcare and education.
If support under Section 95 is not enough to meet your needs, your caseworker may be able to apply for additional support under Section 96(2).
Housing Support for Asylum Seekers
When you register your claim for asylum and have your initial screening interview, you will be asked if you need help arranging accommodation.
If you do not have anywhere to stay, you will be offered housing somewhere in the UK, for example, in a flat, house, hostel, or hotel.
Your accommodation will either be:
- Catered accommodation, where some of your meals are provided
- Self-catered, where you will have to provide your own meals.
You will be unable to choose where your accommodation is located or the type of accommodation you are provided.
Financial Support for Asylum Seekers
If your application for financial support under Section 95 is accepted, you will receive a type of debit card known as an ASPEN card. You will not receive payment in cash.
Your weekly financial allowance will be loaded on this card, which you can use to pay for any necessities.
How much support you receive depends on your circumstances. However, as of October 2023, this is usually:
- £47.39 per week for those who do not need housing support or are placed in self-catered accommodation.
- £9.58 per week for those placed in catered accommodation.
You can check your balance and withdraw up to £300 per week at an ATM cash machine; however, you may be charged a processing fee by the ATM operator.
You will not be able to use your ASPEN card to:
- Check your balance or withdraw cash at free-standing ATMs, known as portals.
- Purchase goods or services online.
- Purchase goods or services over the phone.
- Make contactless payments.
Support for Pregnant Women and Parents of Children Under 3
If you are pregnant or a parent of a dependent child under the age of 3, you may be given further financial support.
The additional amount you will receive depends on your circumstances. As of October 2023, if you are:
- A pregnant woman, you will receive £3 extra financial support per week.
- A parent of a baby under 1 year old, you will receive £5 extra financial support per week.
- A parent of a child aged between 1 and 3 years old, you will receive £3 extra financial support per week.
You may also be eligible for a one-off maternity payment of £300 if you are either:
- Pregnant and you are due to give birth within 8 weeks, or
- A parent of a baby under 6 weeks old
Entitlement to NHS Healthcare for Asylum Seekers
If you are an asylum seeker and receive support, you may be eligible to receive:
- Free medical treatment from the National Health Service (NHS) at a GP surgery or hospital
- Free prescriptions for any medications prescribed by a doctor
- Free dental care
- Free eye tests
- Help to buy prescription glasses
Education Support for Asylum Seekers
If you have dependent children aged between 5 and 17 years old, they must attend school.
They will be able to do this for free at a local state school and may be entitled to free school meals from your local authority.
Step 1: Register Your Claim for Asylum
Before you apply for Section 95 asylum seeker benefits, you must register your claim for asylum.
You should do this either at the UK port of entry or when you are already in the UK.
However, it is important that you register your claim for asylum as soon as you believe it would be unsafe for you or your dependents to return to your home country, as an unreasonable delay may result in your application being denied.
Step 2: Request Support
Once your claim for asylum has been registered, you will have an initial screening interview with an immigration officer.
During this interview, you will be asked if you need any support or help arranging accommodation. You should explain your situation fully and request support.
Step 3: Apply for Asylum Seekers Benefits
To apply for Section 95 support, you should complete Form ASF1 and send it by e-mail, along with supporting documents, to:
PO Box 471
Alternatively, if you do not need to provide any original supporting documents, you can send your completed application form by e-mail to S95NewApplications@migranthelpuk.org.
In addition to the application form, you may need to submit supporting documents, including:
- Evidence showing your accommodation arrangements, including invoices, agreements, and bills
- Evidence of your personal circumstances
- Your P45, if you have previously worked in the UK in order to show your employment, has ended.
- Evidence of any cash, savings, or investments that belong to you, your spouse, or dependents, including:
- Authenticated bank statements showing all transactions held by you or your dependents in the UK or abroad for at least the last 6 months
- Information about any personal credit agreements or loans
- Evidence of any land, property, goods, or business assets in the UK or abroad that belong to you, your spouse, or dependents, including:
- Vehicles and their current market value. You should also provide evidence that you have attempted to sell the vehicle.
- Property in the UK or abroad and evidence that you will arrange to sell it within 6 months of your application.
- Evidence of any funds or property declared in any visa application you previously made in the UK, including bank statements for at least the last 6 months. If this declaration was untrue, you must provide evidence that supports this.
- Evidence of any state benefits you have ever received in the UK.
Where possible, supporting evidence should be original, certified copies.
If you wish to apply for the maternity grant, you will need to obtain Form MATB1 from your doctor before you apply for support.
It’s free to apply for support; however, you should consider the cost of obtaining certified documents and postage fees if required.
Step 4: Wait for Your Application Decision
Your application must be assessed before a decision about whether to provide support can be made.
If you need immediate help with housing and do not have enough funds to arrange this yourself, you may be able to apply for initial housing until you have received your long-term support decision.
You must update the Home Office about any changes to your circumstances while you wait for a decision.
Step 5: Receive Your Decision
You will be notified in writing whether your application for support has been accepted.
If your application is denied, you will be given a reason and information about the next steps, including whether you are able to appeal the asylum decision.
Section 95 Asylum Support Processing Time
Each application for support is considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all the information and evidence you have provided.
If you require immediate assistance, you may be eligible to apply for temporary Section 98 support while you wait for your support decision.
Your application for support may be delayed if there is a high application volume or if you do not provide sufficient information and supporting evidence.
Section 98 Support
If you require immediate support while waiting for a Section 95 decision, you may be eligible to apply for Section 98 support.
Sometimes referred to as initial accommodation, successful applicants will usually receive either:
- Catered accommodation where some meals are provided, or
- Self-catered accommodation and financial support to help you buy food.
To be eligible for Section 98, you must prove that you meet the legal test for destitution now and not in the next 14 days like with Section 95 support.
This support is temporary and will end when you receive Section 95 support or an asylum decision.
Unlike Section 95 support, there is no right to appeal Section 98 decisions; however, you may be still able to request reconsideration.
Section 4 Support
If your claim for asylum is denied and you are unable to appeal the decision further, you may be eligible for Section 4 support.
Successful applicants may receive financial support and help with housing until they leave the UK or reapply for asylum.
To be eligible for Section 4 support, you must meet the legal test for destitution now and satisfy at least one of the following criteria:
- You are taking all reasonable steps to leave the UK or prepare to leave the UK.
- You are unable to leave the UK as a result of medical or physical circumstances.
- There is no viable route for you to return to your home country, and this is agreed upon by the Secretary of State.
- You have made an application for:
- Judicial review in Scotland
- Judicial review and been granted permission or leave to proceed in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland.
- Not providing accommodation under Section 4 would breach your rights under the Human Rights Act 1998.
You have the right to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Asylum Support) within 3 days of being notified of the decision.
How Manchester Immigration Lawyers Can Help
The UK asylum system is complicated, and many applicants find the process overwhelming.
If you’re currently waiting for an asylum decision in the UK and need financial or housing support, Manchester Immigration Lawyers can help.
We’re the UK’s leading immigration specialists and have years of experience helping people successfully claim asylum and obtain benefits for asylum seekers in the UK.
Whether you would like guidance about your initial Section 95 support application or help with an asylum benefits appeal, our understanding and friendly team of solicitors and legal advisors is waiting to guide you through the entire process.
For advice and support with your application, call Manchester Immigration Lawyers on (+44) 0161 826 9783, contact us online, or visit one of our UK offices.
You are able to track the progress of your application for Section 95 asylum support through Migrant Help.
To do this, you should either:
- Visit the Migrant Help website and:
- Use the Webchat to discuss your application.
- Raise an issue.
- Call the Freephone helpline at 0808 8010 503.
Alternatively, you are able to request an update from the Home Office by writing a letter to:
PO Box 471
You will only receive Section 95 support while your asylum claim is ongoing.
If your claim for asylum in the UK is accepted and you have been granted refugee status, any support you receive will end after 28 days of being notified.
After this time, you will need to:
- Find alternative accommodation.
- Find employment or apply for other state benefits you are eligible for.
Your refugee status decision letter and caseworker will explain this in more detail.
Yes. If your application for Section 95 support has been refused, you are able to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Asylum Support).
The Tribunal must receive notification of your intent to appeal the decision within 3 days of receiving your decision letter.
You can receive advice and support with your Section 95 support appeal by calling Manchester Immigration Lawyers on (+44) 0161 826 9783, contacting us online, or visiting one of our UK offices.