What are not public funds?

A person with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) cannot access benefits, homelessness assistance from the council and an allocation of social housing through the council's register. Only these publicly​ funded services are classed as 'public funds' for immigration purposes - see the full list here 

A person with NRPF may therefore access other publicly funded services and would not be breaching their immigration conditions if they receive these. However a person's immigration status may be a factor in whether they will be able to meet the requirements to access a particular service. this means that there will be several publicly funded services that a person with NRPF will be able to receive. Details of immigration requirements for some key public services are set out here. 

Child maintenance 

A person with NRPF can claim child maintenance from a former partner through the statutory Child Maintenance Service

The parent caring for the child, non-resident parent and qualifying children must all be habitually resident in the UK. It should not matter that they have NRPF. Applications can be progressed if the person does not have a National Insurance number, although the identity of all parties involved will need to be proved, preferably with birth certificates.  

A person wanting to discuss their options regarding child maintenance must contact Child Maintenance Options​ before applying to the Child Maintenance Service. If they do not have a National Insurance number, they can ask Child Maintenance Options for their case to be managed via the Exceptional Case Handling Process. 

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Concessionary travel passes

Some local authorities operate concessionary travel passes for people who are elderly or have a disability​. People with NRPF are not prohibited from applying for these, but will have to satisfy the relevant eligibility criteria to obtain one. 

A person would need to contact their local council​ to find out whether they have such a scheme. 

Elderly or disabled people with NRPF who are resident in Greater London may be able to apply for a Freedom Pass​​​​

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Education and student finance

State school education 
Children with NRPF can receive state school education whilst they are of compulsory school age. However, ​when a condition of a child's immigration permission does not permit study, or study at a state school, they will not be able receive a state school education. This condition only applies to children who have been issued with leave to enter or remain as a: visitor, Tier 4 (Child), or short-term student (child).

Further education 
When applying to undertake further education, a person with NRPF will only be able to undertake a course for free if they satisfy the eligibility requirements for course funding, which is based on nationality, immigration status and length of residence in the UK.

Higher education
If a person with NRPF applies for higher education then they will only be charged the lower ‘home’ fee rates and be eligible for student finance to help with course and living costs if they satisfy​ the relevant eligibility requirements.

A person's nationality, immigration status and length of residence in the UK will be relevant rather than whether they have the NRPF condition. For example, in England, a person who has limited leave to remain (with recourse to public funds or with NRPF) will only be able to receive student finance if they have lived in the UK for a certain number of years, which varies depending on their age. 

Further information
In England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland​, different rules govern eligibility for further and higher education course funding, student finance, and bursaries.

For more information, see:

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Free school meals

The Government funds free school meals for children attending a state school, free school or academy in England. Depending on the child's school year, these are universally provided or are subject to the child meeting eligibility​ criteria. Different rules apply in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

Universal provision - reception, year 1 and year 2
Free school meals are available for all children in reception, year 1 and year 2. Children can receive these regardless of their or their parent's immigration status.

Other school years 
Free school meals are only funded for some children in other school years. A child will be entitled to free school meals when their parent is receiving a qualifying benefit or if the child is receiving a qualifying benefit in their own right. 

The qualifying benefits are:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • The guarantee element of State Pension Credit 
  • Child Tax Credit (where the family has an annual income less than £16,190 and the parent is not entitled to Working Tax Credit)
  • Working Tax Credit four week run-on (paid when this benefit stops) 
  • Universal Credit - the family's net annual earned income must not exceed £7,400
  • Section 95 Home Office asylum support 

Some councils universally fund free school meals for all children in other school years so a parent would​ need to check their local council's policy to find out what is available. 

See the government information about free school meal entitlement in different parts of the UK: 

Funded early years education and childcare

Early years education and childcare for children is funded by the Government for children in England. Schemes may be universally available or may only be available to eligible children. 

A funded childcare place or tax-free childcare is not considered by the Home Office to be a public fund for immigration purposes. Therefore a parent with NRPF can apply, or be included in their partner's application for this, if the family meet the relevant eligibility criteria. However, some schemes require the parent who applies to meet a residence requirement.

The information below applies to schemes in England. Different rules apply in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (apart from the tax-free childcare scheme). 

Free places for two-year-olds  (15 hours) 
A two-year-old child will be entitled to free place when they meet one of the following requirements:  

  • The parent(s) claim one of the following benefits:
​        -Income Support
        -Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
        -Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
        -Universal Credit (the family's net annual income must not exceed £15,400)
        -Tax Credits (the family's annual income before tax must be under £16,190​)
        -Guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
        -Working Tax Credit four-week run on payment

  • The parent(s) receive section 95 Home Office asylum support 
  • The child has a current statement of Special Educational Needs or an Education, Health and Care plan
  • The child is receiving Disability Living Allowance
  • The child is looked after by a local authority
  • The child is no longer looked after by the local authority as a result of an adoption order, a special guardianship order or a child arrangements order that specifies with whom the child lives
​On 1 September 2019, the Government extended entitlement to include children with parents who have one of the following types of immigration status:

  • Zambrano carer, i.e. a derivative right to reside under European law as the primary carer of a British child or dependent adult (the family's net annual income must not exceed £15,400)
  • Leave to remain with NRPF that has been granted on private or family life (Article 8) grounds (the family's net annual income must not exceed £15,400)
  • An 'appeal rights exhausted' (ARE) asylum seeker receiving section 4 Home Office asylum support
Free places for three and four-year-old children (15 hours)
This is a universal entitlement, which means that all three and four-year-old children are entitled to 570 hours of free childcare or early education each year. This must be taken over at least 38 weeks, for example, 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year. 

Free places for three and four-year-old children (extended provision - 30 hours)
Parents who are working and earning a specified minimum amount can apply for an additional 570 hours of free childcare each year for three and four-year-old children.

Children may also be eligible if a parent is on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, or is unable to work due to a disability or caring responsibilities. 

The parent who applies must meet a residence requirement. This will be satisfied if the parent is:
  • British 
  • An EEA national 
  • Is a non-EEA national with a type of immigration status which does not have the NRPF condition, for example, indefinite leave to remain
A parent who has leave to remain with NRPF will not meet the residence requirement so cannot make the application. However, if the other parent meets the residence requirement then they can apply instead. Both parents must meet the requirements relating to employment and earnings.  

Single parents who have leave to remain with NRPF, or two-parent families where both parents have leave to remain with NRPF, will not be able to apply. 

Tax-free childcare for children under 12 
Parents who are working and earning a specified minimum amount may be able to benefit from the government's tax-free childcare scheme. This scheme is available UK-wide and also applies to disabled children under 17.

The parent who applies must meet a residence requirement. This will be satisfied if the parent is:
  • British 
  • An EEA national 
  • Is a non-EEA national with a type of immigration status which does not have the NRPF condition, for example, indefinite leave to remain
A parent who has leave to remain with NRPF will not meet the residence requirement so cannot make the application. However, if the other parent meets the residence requirement then they can apply instead. Both parents must meet the requirements relating to employment and earnings. 

Single parents who have leave to remain with NRPF, or two-parent families where both parents have leave to remain with NRPF, will not be able to apply. 

Further information 
Government information about schemes that apply in England:
Government information about other areas of the UK:

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Housing association tenancy

A person with NRPF can rent a property from a housing association if they have applied directly to the housing association rather than through their local council’s housing allocations list. An allocation of a housing association property will only be considered to be a public fund if it has been obtained through the council's list.

For more information, see:
  • Home Office: Modernised Guidance - Public Funds

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Legal aid

People with NRPF can apply for legal aid funding to help with legal costs if this is available for the type of claim they want to make or matter that they need advice about. Eligibility for legal aid funding depends on a person’s financial circumstances and, in some cases, the solicitor's assessment of the chance of their claim being successful. 

For more information, see:

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NHS treatment

Free NHS treatment
Some types of healthcare are free to everyone and can be accessed by people regardless of their immigration status, or whether they have NRPF. 

Free services include:

  • GP services
  • NHS Walk in centres
  • Treatment for certain contagious diseases
  • Accident and emergency treatment at a hospital
NHS treatment that may not be free
Treatment provided in a hospital (other than that listed above) and also by some community services will not be free for some people. This will depend on their immigration status, rather than whether they have NRPF. 

In England, people with NRPF who will need to pay for most hospital treatment include:​

  • Visa overstayers
  • Illegal entrants
  • Refused asylum seeking families who are not getting asylum support from the Home Office 
  • Refused asylum seeking adults who are not getting asylum support from the Home Office or housing from social services under Part 1 of the Care Act 2014
A person will normally be required to pay up front before any treatment can be provided. However, if the doctor or medic confirms that the treatment is immediately necessary or urgent, then it can be provided before the fee is paid, but the person will still be charged afterwards.

​​Failure to pay an NHS debt of £500 or more could lead to an immigration application being refused.

People appl​ying for limited leave to remain in the UK are now required to pay the Immigration Health Charge to gain access to hospital treatment and community NHS services. ​

The rules regarding what healthcare is free and what must be paid for are different in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. ​​

Further information
For detailed information about NHS treatment for people with NRPF and the Immigration Health Charge please see our factsheet:

   NHS healthcare for migrants with NRPF (England)

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Social services assistance

People with NRPF can receive help from social services. Social services provide a broad range of services to safeguard the welfare of children, young people who have been in care, and adults with care and support needs. 

In some instances, social services may provide housing and financial support to people with NRPF:

  • A family where there is a child in need (if the family are destitute then the child will be in need) 
  • A young person who was formerly looked after by a local authority, for example, because they were an unaccompanied asylum seeking child, or other separated migrant child
  • An adult who requires care and support due to a disability, illness or mental health condition​
Some people can only get this help from social services if it is necessary to prevent a breach of their human rights. This will only apply to people who have certain types of immigration status and European Economic Area nationals, and does not apply to other types of help provided by social services. 

For more information, see: 

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Work related benefits

A person with NRPF is not prevented from claiming all benefits. There are some that they may be able to claim if they have been in work or have paid National Insurance contributions, and are listed in the table below.

Benefits a person with NRPF may be able to claim

Bereavement benefit​*

Maternity allowance

Contributory- based jobseeker's allowance

Retirement pension

Contributory-based employment and support allowance

Statutory maternity pay

​Guardian's allowance

Statutory sickness pay
Incapacity benefit

Widows benefit*
* As of 6 April 2017 these have been replaced by bereavement support payment

For more information about eligibility for these benefits, see:

​Page updated 4 April 2018​​​​

Free school means and funded childcare updated 3 September 2019