Skip to main content
  1. 1. Overview
  2. 2. Migrant Victims of Domestic Abuse Concession (formerly DDVC)
  3. 3. EU Settlement Scheme
  4. 4. Immigration application fees
  5. 5. Leave to remain with NRPF (change of conditions)
  6. 6. Windrush Scheme
  7. 7. British citizenship
  8. 8. Home Office voluntary return

Leave to remain with NRPF (change of conditions)

People who are granted leave to enter or remain in the UK for a limited period will usually be subject to a  'No Recourse to Public Funds' (NRPF) condition, and therefore will be unable to claim benefits and local authority housing assistance. People on temporary routes, such as a student or visitor, as well as those who are joining family members on settlement routes will be subject to a NRPF condition. 

When a person applies for leave to remain on certain immigration routes, in some cases, the Home Office can grant access to public funds. The Home Office can also lift the NRPF condition to allow access to public funds when a person applies for a change of conditions. 

The Home Office guidance, Permitting access to public funds, sets out the circumstances when access to public funds will be granted. This is sometimes referred to as the 'NRPF policy'.  

Leave to remain applications - obtaining access to public funds

Access to public funds can be granted in certain circumstances to a person who is applying for leave to remain on one of the following routes:

  • Partner or parent under Appendix FM (5-year or 10-year settlement route)
  • Appendix private life
  • Appendix Hong Kong British National (Overseas) - further limited leave when the person has been previously given access public funds and continues to qualify for this

Access to public funds will be granted when one of the following applies:

  • The applicant is destitute
  • The applicant is at risk of imminent destitution (are unlikely to continue to meet their accommodation and living costs after 3 months)
  • There are reasons relating to the welfare of a relevant child which outweigh the considerations for imposing or maintaining the condition
  • The applicant is facing exceptional circumstances affecting their income or expenditure

A request to access public funds, which is supported by evidence, will need to be made as part of the leave to remain application. A person who is re-applying for further leave on one of these routes and previously had access to public funds would need to demonstrate why they still require access to public funds when they apply for further leave to remain. 

Change of conditions application 

The change of conditions process enables people who have leave to remain with a NRPF condition to gain access to public funds in certain circumstances. This is an option for people whose circumstances have changed since they were granted leave to remain. For example, as person may lose access to funds or employment if they separate from a partner, become too unwell to work, or take on caring responsibilities. 

A change of conditions can be applied for by a person who has any type of leave to remain that is subject to a NRPF condition. However, the qualifying requirements are different depending on the immigration route the person is on. 

Partner or parent under Appendix FM, Appendix Private life, or Hong Kong BN(O) status holder or family member

Access to public funds will be granted when one of the following applies:

  • The applicant is destitute
  • The applicant is at risk of imminent destitution (are unlikely to continue to meet their accommodation and living costs after 3 months)
  • There are reasons relating to the welfare of a relevant child which outweigh the considerations for imposing or maintaining the condition
  • The applicant is facing exceptional circumstances affecting their income or expenditure 

Other types of leave

The Home Office will also consider a change of conditions application made by a person with another type of leave to remain with a NRPF condition, such as student or skilled worker leave.

However, the Home Office guidance contains the following warning:

'If you have permission in another category, you can apply on discretionary grounds to change the conditions attached to your permission. If your application to change the conditions attached to your permission is refused, consideration may be given as to whether you continue to meet the requirements of the route for which your permission was granted and whether that permission should be cancelled. If your permission is cancelled, you may be required to leave the UK.'

The guidance goes on to state that:

'For these cases discretion will only be used where there are particularly compelling circumstances which justify giving access to public funds and lifting the NRPF
condition. Occasions when discretion is used are likely to be rare. In all cases, the onus is on the applicant to provide sufficient evidence to satisfy the decision maker that the NRPF condition should be lifted.'

Several factors that the Home Office will consider in order to determine whether there are 'particularly compelling circumstances' are set out on the guidance.

Access to public funds can be granted only when particularly compelling circumstances have been established and when one of the following applies:

  • The applicant is destitute
  • The applicant is at risk of imminent destitution (are unlikely to continue to meet their accommodation and living costs after 3 months)
  • There are reasons relating to the welfare of a relevant child which outweigh the considerations for imposing or maintaining the condition
  • The applicant is facing exceptional circumstances affecting their income or expenditure

How to apply 

The change of conditions application is free and can be made online. For more details, see the Home Office information about applying for a change of conditions

It is highly advisable that anyone who does not currently have leave to remain on a family, private life, or Hong Kong BN(O) route obtains legal advice from an immigration adviser before making a change of conditions application so that they are aware of any risks that may arise.

It is also important that a person with a dependant visa who has separated from their partner gets legal advice before applying for a change of conditions, as they may need to make a new leave to remain application or have other options. 

Where to get help with an application 

An immigration adviser (OISC level 1 or above) can provide advice and assist with a change of conditions application. Find an immigration adviser.

It can be difficult to find free legal advice. The Unity Project has produced guidance to help applicants who need to apply by themselves and, in some cases, may be able to provide advice and assistance with an application. A person can get in touch with the Unity Project to find out if they can assist.

Hong Kong BN(O) visa holders can get information about local immigration advisers from their regional Hong Kong Welcome Hub, hosted by the Strategic Migration Partnerships