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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

People from EEA countries

It can be very difficult to work out if a person from an EEA country is eligible for homelessness help or for social security benefits. If you are not sure if you are eligible, contact Housing Rights for advice.

Generally, an EEA national needs to have some sort of history of working in the UK in order to be eligible for help. If you have never worked in the UK, but a close family member has you may be able to use this person’s work history to qualify for help.

EEA nationals who have come to Northern Ireland to look for work, but who have not yet worked in the UK, may be able to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance after three months, but won’t be eligible for help as a homeless person or for Housing Benefit. 

EEA nationals who are working

If you are currently working and the Housing Executive or social security agency agrees that your work is genuine and effective, you will be eligible for assistance.  

What is genuine and effective work?

The government has to be satisfied that you are really working and that this work is effective. Your work will be seen as genuine and effective if you get paid enough to make national insurance contributions. It is the equivalent of 24 hours a week at the national minimum wage, or £157 per week in 2017/18.

If you get paid less than this amount, you are not automatically ineligible. But, you will have to show that your work is genuine and effective. You should get advice if you earn below this amount and you can speak to Housing Rights for advice 

EEA nationals who have stopped working

Workers are eligible for assistance. In certain circumstances people can keep their status as a “worker” and remain eligible for help, even if they have stopped work.

If you previously worked in the UK, but have stopped working, you could still be eligible for help if

  • You are temporarily unable to work due to pregnancy, illness or an accident but intend to resume work at some point in the future
  • You have worked for at least one year, lost your job and are now a registered jobseeker and have a good chance of finding a new job
  • You have worked for less than one year, lost your job and have been unemployed for less than 6 months
  • You have lost your job and started vocational training or you have started vocational training related to your previous job
  • You were self-employed, but can no longer carry out your business due to pregnancy, illness or an accident.
  • You may only be able to keep your “worker” status for a short period of time. If you’ve worked in the UK for less than a year, you can only keep this status for six months.

If you’ve worked for more than a year, you will be able to keep this status for six months, and you may be able to keep it for a further three months if you can show that there is a good chance that you will get a job offer soon.

Who counts as a “family member”?

You can be eligible for help as a homeless person and for social security benefits if you haven’t worked in the UK, as long as you can show that a family member is eligible.

Family member includes

  • A husband, wife or civil partner
  • Children under the age of 21
  • Any other dependent children
  • Parents or grandparents if these people are dependent on you
  • Any family members who have been included on a family permit, registration certificate or residence card