Coronavirus information

The UK is currently facing a public health crisis due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. This information sets out what services a person who has no recourse to public funds (NRPF) may be able to access and how they can get help if they are struggling financially or are at risk of homelessness.

Where information is specific to people living in England, residents of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will need to refer to the information provided by those governments. 

We have also produced guidance for councils in England: 

Guidance for councils in Scotland has been produced by Migration Scotland at COSLA:

 

Coronavirus (Covid-19) information

Everyone living in England is required to follow government regulations and guidance on self-isolation and social distancing, with particularly vulnerable individuals needing additional protection by shielding. These measures apply to everyone, regardless of their nationality, main country of residence or immigration status.

For the current government information on coronavirus, see: 


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NHS treatment for coronavirus

People who are in the UK on a visit visa, or who do not have any current immigration permission, will usually be required to pay for secondary and community NHS healthcare, including most types of treatment provided in a hospital. However, special provisions have been made regarding NHS charging in relation to coronavirus:

  • No charges will be made for the diagnosis or treatment of coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes testing, even if the result is negative, or any treatment provided if the result is positive or up to the point that it is negatively diagnosed.
  • NHS trusts have been advised that no immigration checks are required for overseas visitors who are known to be only undergoing testing or treatment for COVID-19.
For more information, see:

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Assistance for extremely vulnerable people

Public Health England recommends that people who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus because of an underlying health condition, including children, follow shielding measures to keep themselves safe. People who are known to be in this group may have received a text message and/or a letter from the NHS. A person who is in this group but has not been contacted can ask their GP or hospital clinician about this. 

The Government is offering to arrange for food and medicines to be delivered to people who are shielding and need help getting essential supplies. The person, or someone on their behalf, can request this support by completing this online form. This assistance is available to a person regardless of their immigration status and can be accessed by a person who has no recourse to public funds. 
 
For more information, see the Government guidance:
 


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Assistance for people who lose employment or are unable to work

The UK Government has announced a series of measures to help people who are unable to work due to contracting coronavirus or having to self-isolate, or who have lost their employment or closed a business due to coronavirus. This section outlines which of these a person who has no recourse to public funds may be able to access.
 
The following types of assistance are not public funds’ for immigration purposes and can be claimed by a person who has no recourse to public funds when they meet the relevant requirements:
 
The following types of assistance are ‘public funds’ for immigration purposes and cannot be claimed by a person who has no recourse to public funds:
 
If a person is unclear about how a change in their circumstances may impact on their immigration status or future applications, they would need to seek legal advice from an immigration adviser. For help finding an immigration adviser, see our information:

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Assistance for people who are struggling financially

Several councils have set up helplines to support residents and may be able to provide some emergency assistance, such as food vouchers, or link people with local voluntary organisations. Residents would need to contact their local council to find out what assistance is available.
 
Some people who have leave to remain with the NRPF condition may be able to apply to the Home Office to request that the condition is lifted by making a change of conditions application. More information about this can be found here

Families that include a child under 18 may be able to get financial assistance if social services have a duty to meet the child's needs. This may also apply to an adult who has  eligible care and support needs that are being met by social services. For more information, see: 'Assisting people who are at risk of homelessness'.
 

For specialist advice about benefits, debt, or money issues relating to coronavirus, see:

To find out if there is a local voluntary organisation or charity that may be able to provide assistance to people with no recourse to public funds, see:



Free school meals

Children in England who are not attending school during the pandemic may continue to receive free school meals or be able to access the Government’s national voucher scheme if the school is unable to arrange for meals to be provided. 

The Government has temporarily extended eligibility for free school meals following legal action undertaken by a number of families, which means that some children in no recourse to public fund households will now be able to access these or the voucher scheme.
 
In addition to the eligible groups that are outlined here, the following children will now qualify:
 
  • Children whose parents/carers are ‘Zambrano’ carers (has a European derivative right to reside in the UK as the primary carer of a British child) and have a maximum income of £7400.
  • Children in families who have been granted leave to remain with NRPF on the basis of Article 8 (family or private life) grounds and have a maximum income of £7400.
  • Children in families who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF) and are receiving support from social services or the NRPF team at their council under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 and have a maximum income of £7400.
  • Children in Appeal Rights Exhausted (ARE) asylum seeking families who are receiving section 4 asylum support from the Home Office.
For more information, see:
 


Assistance for people who are at risk of homelessness

Protections for tenants
To prevent people who are renting from being made homeless through eviction proceedings, legislation has been passed that requires landlords in England to give all tenants three months’ notice if they intend to end the tenancy, regardless of the grounds for this. This will apply to most types of tenancies issued in the private and social housing sectors.
 
The courts have also suspended all ongoing housing possession action in England and Wales for at least 90 days from 27 March. This covers some types of tenancies and licence agreements.
 
A person who is subject to legal action by their landlord or is at risk of being evicted would need to get advice from a housing adviser as soon as possible to check what their legal rights are. 
 
For more information see:
 
Support for asylum seekers
A person who is seeking asylum or is an Appeal Rights Exhausted (ARE) asylum seeker may qualify for accommodation and financial support from the Home Office.
 
For more information see:
 
 
Support for people with no recourse to public funds
If a person with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, they may be able to get assistance from their local council. In order to protect vulnerable individuals during the pandemic, councils in England have been asked by the UK Government to provide people with no recourse to public funds who are rough sleeping, at risk of rough sleeping, or who are living in accommodation where it is difficult to self-isolate, with accommodation. Each council will have its own procedure for taking referrals and providing accommodation on public health grounds, which is usually led by the housing department or housing authority. 

Councils also have legal duties, which may be engaged to provide accommodation and financial support to a family or adult with care needs who has no recourse to public funds. This support is usually provided by social services or the NRPF team, if the Council has a specialist service.

Social services' support and the provision of housing on public health grounds are not 'public funds' for immigration purpose and can be accessed by a person who has no recourse to public funds.
 
A person who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless would need to contact their local council to find out what assistance they may be able to get. They may need to approach one of the following services, depending on their circumstances and council processes: 
 
  • Children's Services - families with children under 18 in the household
  • Adult Social Care - adults with care and support needs
  • Housing department or authority - rough sleepers and other adults who are homeless
  • NRPF team  - some councils have a specialist team that may work with families and/or adults

 


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Assistance for people who are experiencing domestic abuse

The Home Office has provided guidance for people to set out what support may be available if they are at risk of, or experience, domestic abuse during the pandemic:

See here for the accommodation options a person with no recourse to public funds may have if they are at risk of homelessness due to domestic abuse.

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Home Office immigration & asylum processes

The Home Office has changed some procedures and also introduced measures for people who are unable to leave the UK due to coronavirus. 

Procedural changes include:

  • Reporting for people who are subject to immigration bail has been temporarily suspended. People will be informed of their next reporting date by text message
  • Temporary closure of all Service and Support Centres
  • Closure of the EU Settlement Resolution Centre telephone helpline
  • Suspension of face to face substantive asylum interviews
  • Lodging further submissions for a fresh asylum claim by post or email, not in person
  • Assisted voluntary returns will no longer be offered, although the Home Office may be able to arrange flights and get travel documents for individuals who wish to return
The Home Office has introduced provisions to enable people who are in the UK temporarily but are unable to return home, and NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics, to extend their visas if their leave is due to expire within a certain specified period.

There are no provisions for people who need to apply for further leave to remain to stay in the UK on settlement routes and who are at risk of failing to apply in time, for example, being unable to raise the fee for their application following sudden loss of employment. Anyone whose leave to remain has expired or is due to expire in the next few weeks needs to obtain legal advice as soon as possible. However, this may be difficult to access due to the impact of coronavirus on legal firms being able to deliver services.

For up to date information about Home Office changes, see:
 

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Page updated 28 April 2020