A guide for when you have been granted refugee status

This guide outlines how you can access housing, benefits, education, training and employment after you have been granted refugee status.

Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)

This is a very important document and will be your main identity document. Your National Insurance Number (NINo) should be on the back of the card; if it isn’t, you can apply.  You can report your card lost or stolen. If you haven’t received a BRP, you can report it.

If you are between visas with no BRP or travel document (e-g when you have applied for your ILR) you can prove your eligibility to work.

You will need your BRP number to obtain a code which you can share with employer who can then check your eligibility. You are eligible to work in UK as a refugee unless expressly told so by the Home Office.



As a refugee you now have the right to work and access public funds and services. This means you can access benefits and help with housing. If you have been living in accommodation provided by the Home Office, you will receive a letter explaining that you will need to leave within 28 days.


Asking for help from the council

You can ask your local council for help, but you are not guaranteed to be given housing. If you have children under 18 who live with you, you will be housed. If you have mental or physical health issues, make sure you provide evidence of these. You can search for your local authority.

If you are offered accommodation from your council, you may be given temporary accommodation first, which is usually a bed and breakfast. This will be paid for by housing benefit, which your council will help you apply for. You may also have to pay service charges, which you will have to pay for out of your benefits or wages.



Shelter have a clear guide explaining the process of asking for help with housing.

Stonewall Housing offer support for LGBT+ people who need help with housing.

Refugees at Home offer short term hosting connecting people seeking asylum and refugees to hosts with spare rooms.

Advicenow have made a series of videos explaining the process of applying for housing and benefits, and also dealing with poor quality housing and eviction.


Renting privately

You can look for your own accommodation on websites such as: RightMoveZooplaOpen RentFind a HoodGumtreeSpareRoomMoveBubbleRoomGoIdeal FlatmateRoomBuddies.

You have the right to rent privately and can apply for benefits as soon as you have refugee status. Many private landlords do not rent to people claiming benefits and may write “No DSS” on the advert but some do. It is important to find a landlord who will accept benefit payments if this is how you will be paying rent. Shelter have a blog explaining the action they are taking against landlords refusing to rent to people on benefits.

Your benefits can be used to pay your rent, there is more information on how to apply for benefits below. You can find out how much money for renting you can receive. Generally, if you are under 35 you are entitled to the “Shared Accommodation” rate and if you are over 35 you can receive the “One Bedroom” rate, but if you apply for housing at the council, your housing officer will tell you what you can get.

Depending on the type of accommodation you’re in, you may need to pay a service charge or utility bills, which you will need to pay for out of your benefits or wages. You can find out more about setting up bills.



If you have been receiving asylum support payments, these will stop after 28 days. You will need to open a bank account if you don’t already have one. Many high street banks will require proof of address which many newly granted refugees don’t have. Banks like Monzo and Monese do not require this and are easy to open an account with but you will need a smartphone. Refugee Council have a guide explaining using bank accounts in the UK.


Universal Credit

You can apply for Universal Credit (UC) which is the main benefit in the UK. You can apply for Universal Credit online. You will be asked to verify your identity online (many newly granted refugees aren’t able to do this, but you can call them to book an appointment instead). You can find out how much you’ll be paid. Universal Credit can also be used to pay your rent.

Citizens Advice have a helpline you can call for help to apply. The first payment takes about 5-6 weeks. You can apply for an advance loan, but you will need to pay this back a bit at a time from your future Universal Credit payments or from your wages if you start working.

If you have any ongoing physical or mental health problems that might prevent you from working, make sure you have evidence of these and include this information on your application. Citizens Advice and Disability Rights UK have more information about how Universal Credit assess your health needs and the evidence you will need to provide. If you have a short-term illness you may need to ask you GP for a sick note.

It is important to remember that you report any change of circumstance (for example, you move accommodation, someone starts living with you, you start working, or you start receiving another benefit). You can find out more.


Other benefits

If your health problems mean that you have difficulties with daily living or getting around (or both) then you may be able to receive Personal Independence Payments as well as Universal Credit. There’s a guide for how to complete it.

If you have children, you can apply for Child Benefit which can be backdated to the date you first claimed asylum. You must claim within three months of receiving the Home Office letter granting you leave as a refugee.

You may be able to receive help with the cost of medication while receiving benefits. You can find out more.

If you are caring for someone, Carers UK have more information on the benefits you may be able to apply for.

If you are renting you will need to pay council tax. However, if you are receiving benefits you can apply for a council tax reduction. This will need to be done through your council. If you type your postcode it will take you to the right place to apply.

You can also apply for a refugee integration loan for rent, household products, or education and training, which you will need to pay back, however this can take 3-6 months to receive.

Turn2us have information about further benefits and grants you may be able to apply for.

There is a limit on the total amount of benefits you can receive, you can find out more using the government calculator.


Education, training, and employment

Student Action for Refugees have put together a list of universities who offer scholarships, bursaries, fee waivers and reduced fees to help asylum seekers and refugees access higher education.

Refugee Council can support you into employment and understand the barriers refugees face in trying to access work in the UK.

Micro Rainbow provide support for recently granted refugees to access benefits and prepare for employment. They also run a fellowship programme for LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum and refugees to gain skills and experience in immigration law, communication, and leadership.

HIMILO is a training provider, delivering vocational training courses, careers advice and employment opportunities.

Breaking Barriers help refugees in Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Greater Manchester, acquire the knowledge, confidence and experience to get stable, fulfilling employment.

Refugee Education UK (REUK) provide a range of services which help 14–25-year-olds seeking safety in the UK to get into, stay in, and do well in education.

Asylum Welcome assist people seeking asylum and refugees over the age of 16 who wish to continue their education and gain qualifications so they can work in the UK.


Further support

The British Red Cross offer emergency support to refugees and help with family reunification.

Migrant Help and the Home Office have also produced guides for newly granted refugees.

Mental health support

It is common for people to experience mental health difficulties when they have just been granted refugee status. Please do reach out to these organisations if you need support with your mental health and always remember to speak with your GP.



Emotional Support: 116 123



UK-wide mental health support service.

0300 123 3393, info@mind.org.uk


Mindline trans+

A confidential support helpline for people who identify as Transgender, agender, gender fluid and non-binary.

0300 330 5468

Mon & Fri 8pm-12pm


Islington Mind

London-based mental health support service.

Helpline: 020 3301 9850


Project Indigo

Counselling, advocacy and psychosocial support for LGBTQ+ people between 11 and 25, based in Hackney.

020 8986 4016, OffCentre@family-action.org.uk


Mind Out

Mental health support service for LGBTQ+ people.

01273 234839, info@mindout.org.uk


LGBT Switchboard

A safe space for anyone to discuss anything, including sexuality, gender identity, sexual health and emotional well-being.

0300 330 0630

Open 10:00-22:00 every day



Confidential support and advice service for people under the age of 35 who are experiencing thoughts of suicide, or anyone concerned that a young person could be thinking about suicide.

0800 068 4141, pat@papyrus-uk.org



Voting Rights

Being a refugee does not grant you a right to vote and this depends on where you live in UK (for devolved assembled elections (Scottish, Welsh or Northern Ireland assembly elections) as well as your nationality. Only a handful of citizens of commonwealth countries are allowed to vote. Check this list of Commonwealth citizens who eligible to vote. If you are eligible to vote, you should register as soon as a possible. This will help you with exercising your democratic right.

Credit Scores

Credit Scores are an important part of finances in the UK. This is a long-term commitment and if you will need to engage with this to obtain mortgage, loans, credit cards or any other type of credit financing. In essence, it is a system to keep track of your financial commitments and your creditworthiness. There are a few factors that influence this score such as being on the electoral register, the length of time you have had your bank account, the number of addresses you have had etc. You can find an easy guide about credit scores and what can influence them.

While there are many credit score agencies in UK, the two main agencies are Equifax and Experian. You can register with both to check your credit score for free initially. If you need help, you can speak to your bank about any financial difficulties and you should be very careful about taking loans as well as using credit cards. In case of any issues, you can speak to Citizens Advice who will provide free advice.