You all know by now that if you hold a UK spouse visa, there are immigration rules that you need to take heed – strictly – or risk losing it! One of the restrictions which surrounds the spouse visa is the ‘no recourse to public funds’ rule. It’s a bugger but you can’t really whinge more about it as you are given permission to work, which is fantastic, really! Now, let’s take a closer look on what are considered public funds and those you may and may NOT claim given your immigration status.
Under Paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules, the following are benefits considered as public funds.
- attendance allowance
- carers allowance
- child benefit
- child tax credit
- council tax benefit
- council tax reduction
- disability living allowance
- discretionary support payments by local authorities (Scotland and Northern Ireland)
- housing and homelessness assistance
- housing benefit
- income-based job seeker’s allowance
- income-related employment and support allowance (ESA) (IR)
- income support
- personal independence payment
- severe disablement allowance
- social fund payment
- state pension credit
- universal credit
- working tax credit
Below gives you a glimpse of some of the benefits that are not considered public funds under Immigration Rules. These are:
- contribution based job seeker’s allowance
- guardian’s allowance
- incapacity benefits
- contribution-based employment and support allowance (ESA)
- maternity allowance
- retirement pension
- statutory maternity pay
- statutory sickness pay
- widow’s benefit and bereavement benefit
In addition, NHS treatment is not considered to be a public fund (as you paid for your IHS upon application) as well as state-funded schooling. Moreover, council tax discount (sole occupancy discounts) is also not considered a public fund.
There are exception to the rule though. I am going to give you an overview of what are the public funds you may claim due to exceptions.
- Housing provided by housing associations – “Housing associations are different to housing authorities. They are independent, not-for-profit, organisations that provide low-cost housing.”
- Exceptions because of nationality of family members – ” Child and working tax credits are claimed jointly by couples. If only one member of a couple is subject to immigration control, then for most tax credits purposes, neither are treated as being subject to immigration control. (See pages 19-22 of the Public Funds Guidance https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/772305/Public_funds_v14.0ext.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0qxteP2YdFF-Ltik7Dmf8qar2d5cDcV2dflkxc5eS8azdS_c5NIJh6mq0#page13 )
The Home Office is also reminding not only the those who are subject to immigration control but also their sponsors who signed a sponsorship undertaking, which covers the accommodation and maintenance of the person they sponsor, that it is an offence to claim public funds in the account of those they sponsor. If in the event the sponsor has claimed a public fund, the Home Office can lawfully recover everything claimed. At the same time, a person who has been granted leave and is subject to immigration control with sponsor who has signed a maintenance undertaking will not be able to access public funds until:
- a resident in the UK for 5 years
- has been 5 years since the maintenance undertaking was signed, whichever is the later date
- has been a resident of the UK for less than 5 years but the sponsor has died
The Home Office has ways of confirming when a person who is under immigration controls has claimed public funding. There are four (4) issuing authorities, which show if that person has claimed public funds. These are Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), the Devolved Administrations and the Local Authorities.