While working or studying away from your homeland, you need to remain informed about your rights. By knowing exactly what you are entitled to, you prepare yourself to face the challenges that come your way — whether it is unemployment, disability or anything else.
Sadly though, most immigrants working in the UK are unaware of the various benefits that they qualify for. Therefore, we decided to provide some useful insights to keep you informed. You may have recently heard of some EU Nationals being refused Universal Credit, which put them in a pitiable state. So, let us start by understanding this concept and then delve deeper into the benefits available to Foreign Nationals in the UK.
What is Universal Credit?
Basically, Universal Credit is a type of benefit available to economically active or self-sufficient individuals in the UK. Those aged under 25 years, but fall under the low-income or unemployed category, may claim this benefit to support themselves. The Universal Credit is a combined replacement for six other benefits in the UK. So, the universal credit replaces other benefits such as housing benefit, working tax credit, income support, jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance, and child tax credit.
Let us now summarize the benefits available to the various categories of immigrants in the UK. You must understand that your eligibility for these benefits depends on your residential status.
EU and EEA Citizens
Currently, there are limited benefits available to those moving within the EEA and Switzerland. In most cases, you may not receive any benefits in the UK, unless you have stayed here for a period of 3 months. The core idea behind this requirement is to ensure that the recipient is desirous of staying in the UK and is likely to contribute to its economy in the near future.
Under the EEA understanding, the host country is required to extend benefits only to those individuals who are economically active or self-sufficient. So, to currently qualify for benefits in the UK, EEA individuals must satisfy that and also the ‘right to reside’ requirements in the UK. Once you cross that minimum threshold, you qualify for the benefits available to other UK citizens.
Those from the EEA and Switzerland regions also qualify for Child Benefits, if they are working in the UK and are responsible to fund their children. The concerned child or children may be present in the UK, or overseas. If overseas, then it is important that the child is residing anywhere within the EEA or Switzerland and must be aged below 16 years and in certain cases, below 20 years.
Immigrants on a work visa
If you are working in the UK and have a visa that is sponsored by a UK sponsor, then that disqualifies you from applying for income-related benefits and several other benefits. This restriction continues for a period of 5 years from the time when you first moved into the UK on a work visa. That's because your sponsor has already undertaken to bear the financial responsibilities connected to your stay. So, the Government of the UK does not have to support you through public funds, which are essentially meant for its citizens and their welfare.
Refugees and Compassionate Grounds
In the UK, if you are a victim of domestic abuse or a refugee, then you must know that the Government of the UK would be willing to look after you. In fact, you qualify for most benefits in the UK, just like the citizens out here. This takes the pressure off your back and allows you a chance to rebuild your life with the necessary financial support.
Job Seeker’s benefits
If you are an immigrant living in the UK for at least 3 months, and are actively looking out for a job, then you probably know the challenges involved in it. Moreover, while you are still looking out for a job, you also need to buy food and other necessities. That’s precisely when you can rely on the job seekers’ benefits, which is offered by the government of the UK.
This type of benefit allows job seekers a cushion period and helps them to pay for their food and shelter. Depending on your eligibility, you may qualify for one or more of the 3 below-listed schemes offered by the government of the UK.
- Contribution-based Jobseekers’ Allowance
- Income-based Jobseekers’ allowance
- New style Jobseekers’ allowance
If you do not qualify for any of the above Jobseekers' allowances, then consider evaluating your eligibility for Universal Credit — which is a combined benefit designed to replace six others. Currently, for most people the jobseeker’s allowance has been replaced with Universal credit. However, access to these benefits vary depending on your residential status and certain other factors.
In most cases, if you are a legitimate immigrant in the UK and have stayed there for at least 3 months, you would qualify for the jobseeker’s allowance which is extremely useful for those seeking employment. Depending on your age, whether or not you have a partner, and the type of jobseeker’s allowance that you qualify for, you may receive anywhere between £50 and £1114.85 per week.
Although this allowance isn’t very high, it is enough for you to buy your food and other necessities while you are looking up for a full-time job or other opportunities. Now that’s the idea whole idea behind this type of allowance, which is designed to support jobseekers.