When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Housing issues for asylum seekers

An asylum seeker is someone who has come to this country because it isn’t safe for them to live in their home country.

You must declare yourself as an asylum seeker when you enter the country. The government will then decide whether it is safe for you to return to your country. If you cannot safely return, you will be given refugee status.

Housing options while you wait for a decision

It can take a long time for the government to make a decision on your application for asylum. Until a decision is made, you are not allowed to work or apply for benefits. The government is required to give you some basic help, such as

  • housing, if you need this
  • limited financial support for essentials like food, clothing and toiletries.

If you don’t have somewhere to stay when you ask for asylum, you will be placed in “initial accommodation”. A company called MEARS manages this “initial accommodation”.

While you are in this accommodation, the Home Office will decide if you need housing support. If you do, you will be placed into different accommodation. This accommodation will be managed by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

Only certain organisations are able to help people with the asylum process, but there are lots of organisations who can help once you've got refugee status.

You will have to leave your asylum accommodation once your application for asylum has been dealt with. You will normally have to leave the property within 28 days of getting a decision on your case.

You should talk to your housing officer if you are having problems in your property.