Immigration Control and No Recourse to Public Funds
When it comes to Immigration control, immigration solicitors often are asked about the concept of ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ and what it means, in practical terms, if that condition is placed on their limited to leave to enter the UK or as a visa condition. Whether you are in the UK on a spouse visa, fiancée visa or partner visa the words ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ can be very concerning. In this blog we look at what the implications are for you if the Home Office, as part of Immigration control, say ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’.
If you need help with an immigration application, whether it is for a spouse visa, fiancée visa, or partner visa or have questions about your UK settlement options then call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.
What is No Recourse to Public Funds?
The legal answer from an Immigration solicitor to the question ‘what is No Recourse to Public Funds?’ is that the concept of No Recourse to Public Funds is defined in section 115 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
The 1999 Act states that ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ is a condition imposed on someone who is subject to Immigration control
What is Immigration control?
To understand ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ you also need to know what is meant when the Home Office says that someone is subject to Immigration control.
Under the Immigration Rules you are subject to Immigration control if you have leave to enter or remain in the UK but a condition is imposed that you can't have access to public funds. This condition can be imposed if you enter on the UK on a spouse visa, partner visa, fiancée visa, student visa or other types of Home Office limited leave to remain in the UK.
You are also subject to Immigration control if:
- You have leave to enter or remain in the UK that is subject to a maintenance undertaking, for example, if you have Indefinite Leave to Remain as an adult dependent relative of someone with Settled Status you will not be able to have recourse to public funds for a five year period
- You do not have leave to enter or remain in the UK, for example you are an overstayer on your visa.
How do you know if you have No Recourse to Public Funds?
If the Home Office impose the condition ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ on your visa or your UK entry clearance then your Immigration status and the No Recourse to Public Funds condition will be stated on your entry clearance vignette or biometric residence permit. The permit will say ‘no public funds’.
What are classed as public funds?
It is all very well to be told that you can't access public funds but when the condition ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ is placed on your limited leave to remain in the UK it is essential that you know what are classed as ‘public funds’.
The definition of ‘public funds’ include:
- Child benefit
- Council tax benefit and housing benefit or council accommodation
- Disability benefits such as attendance allowance or carer’s allowance or disability allowance
- Tax credits – child and working tax credit
- Universal credit
The above list isn’t exhaustive and if you are in any doubt about whether state assistance counts as ‘public funds’ it is best to take legal advice.
To complicate matters, public funds do not include:
- Some work benefits that are based on National Insurance payments such as incapacity benefit or maternity pay
- Schooling or education or access to the National Health Service but although education and health aren’t classed as ‘public funds’ you may not be entitled to free access to them depending on the type of permission that you hold to remain in the UK.
In addition, if you are in a relationship with a British citizen or someone with Settled Status (for example if you are in the UK on a spouse visa or partner visa) your partner will still be able to claim benefits as they are not subject to Immigration control.
There are also some limited exemptions and applications you can make to the Home Office to remove the No Recourse to Public Funds condition if you meet the Home Office criteria.
It is important to take legal advice on your best options before claiming public funds because of the long-term consequences of inadvertently claiming something that you aren’t entitled to claim because of the No Recourse to Public Funds requirement.
What happens if I ignore the No Recourse to Public Funds condition?
Immigration solicitors warn against ignoring the No Recourse to Public Funds condition to your visa or UK entry clearance. That is because many people don’t realise the seriousness of ignoring the condition or the long-term consequences, such as:
- Affecting your current Immigration status – your current permission to stay in the UK could be revoked
- Refusal of your visa extension application
- Refusal of your settlement application, for example your application for Indefinite Leave to Remain or British citizenship.
Failure to comply with the No Recourse to Public Funds condition can have massive consequences for you because when the Home Office assess visa applications or Indefinite Leave to Remain or British naturalisation applications by looking at your Immigration history, record and any breaches of Immigration Rules.
If you are worried that you have breached the No Recourse to Public Funds condition and are concerned about how this may have an adverse effect on your planned Immigration or settlement application it is best to take expert legal advice before submitting your application to the Home Office.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
London based OTS Solicitors are specialists in Immigration law. If you are worried about a visa extension application or your planned Indefinite Leave to Remain or settlement application because of the No Recourse to Public Funds condition on your visa then OTS Solicitors can help you. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.
OTS Solicitors have Law Society accredited solicitors status as trusted specialists in Immigration law and are recommended in the two leading law directories, Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession and the Legal 500. For information on any aspect of personal or business immigration law please call us on 0203 959 9123 to discuss how we can help you.