Sometimes people will come to another country because they feel that it is not safe or possible for them to stay in their own country, perhaps because of war or extreme poverty.
Under a 1951 UN agreement, these people can seek asylum in the country they arrive in. When someone has asked another country for help in this way, they become an asylum seeker.
The relevant agency in that country will then investigate this person’s circumstances to see if it is appropriate for that person to continue living in their home country. In the UK, this work is done by the Home Office. If the Home Office decides that it is not safe for someone to return to their own country, that person will become a refugee.
Asylum seekers’ eligibility for homelessness help and welfare benefits
Asylum seekers are not eligible for help with homelessness and cannot apply for benefits. The Home Office is responsible for providing accommodation for asylum seekers.
If you are an asylum seeker, you should be provided with accommodation until your asylum claim has been refused or until you have been given refugee status.
Refugees’ eligibility for homelessness help and welfare benefits
Refugees are eligible to apply for social housing and for benefits, like Housing Benefit and Universal Credit.
Refugees have to go through the exact same process as British and Irish citizens when they apply for housing.
If you are a refugee with nowhere to live, you can ask the Housing Executive for help as a homeless person. You will have to pass all four tests for homelessness, but eligibility will only be a problem if you have been involved in antisocial behaviour.
Get advice from Housing Rights if you are a refugee who needs help with a housing problem.