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 either have settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme or must 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.

EU Settlement Scheme

If you are from an EEA country or if you are the family member of a person from an EEA country, you should apply to this scheme for permission to remain in the UK after Brexit. You can get settled status if you have lived in the UK for 5 years in a row you will be given settled status and will be treated the same as a British or Irish person. If you have settled status and you normally live somewhere in the UK or Ireland you will pass the eligibility test. 

You will be given pre-settled status if you have lived in the UK for less than 5 years in a row. This status doesn't give you a right to apply for social housing. You will need to show that you are or have been working in order to get this assistance, or that you are the family member of someone who is or who has been working in the UK. 

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. This is the equivalent of working 24 hours a week at the national minimum wage.

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