EEA nationals - claiming benefits as a family member
To claim certain benefits like Jobseeker's Allowance, Employment Support Allowance or Universal Credit, you'll have to pass the habitual residence test. This means that you:
- have a legal right to live in the UK and claim benefits - this is called right to reside
- intend to make your home for the time being in the UK, Isle of Man, Channel Islands or the Republic of Ireland - this is known as habitual residence
European Economic Area (EEA) countries include all those in the EU plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Check which countries are members of the European Union.
If you're from Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia (known as the A8 countries) you have exactly the same rights to claim benefits as other EEA nationals. You don't have to get your work in the UK registered.
Showing your right to reside and intention to settle in the UK can be difficult. If you're unsure about anything get help from your local Citizens Advice.
You are the family member of an EEA national
You may have the right to reside and not have to satisfy the remaining conditions of the HRT if you're a family member of an EEA national who themselves has the right to reside as one of the following:
- a worker
- a self-employed person
- a former worker
- a student
- a self-sufficient person
- a jobseeker.
EEA nationals - claiming benefits while in work or self-employed
EEA nationals - claiming benefits as a former worker
EEA nationals - claiming benefits as a student
EEA nationals - claiming benefits as a self-sufficient person
EEA nationals - claiming benefits as a jobseeker
If you're subject to immigration control, you can't claim benefits. Making a claim may affect your right to stay in the UK.
This may be the case if you:
- need permission to enter or remain in the UK but don't yet have it
- have permission to enter or remain in the UK only if you don't claim benefits or use other public services
- were given permission to enter or remain in the UK because someone formally agreed to support you.
You'll have the best chance of showing that you have a right to reside if you're the immediate family member of an EEA national. An immediate family member can be a husband/wife, civil partner, child under 21 or grandchild under 21. But if you're another family member, such as a child over 21, or a parent or grandparent, you may have rights too if you're looked-after, whether financially or otherwise, by your EEA family member or by their husband/wife or civil partner. However, if your EEA family member is a student you will only be treated as a family member if you're the husband/wife, civil partner or dependent child of the student or the dependent child of their husband/wife or civil partner.
Your right to reside is dependent on your family member continuing to have a right to reside. For example, if they're a worker who stops working and does not register as unemployed, they may no longer have a right to reside as a worker and your right to reside may also end
Even if you can show that you have the the right to reside, you may still have to show you are habitually resident in the Common Travel Area in order to claim means-tested benefits.
The rules around being a family member of an EEA national are complicated so it may be best to seek advice before making a claim based on this right.
EEA countriesEuropean Economic Area (EEA) countries include all those in the EU plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. To check which countries are members of the European Union, see the Europa website www.europa.eu.
- What is the habitual residence test
- The habitual residence test - how a decision is made
- What to do if you fail the habitual residence test