After you get refugee status

This advice applies to Scotland. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Wales

If you’ve claimed asylum and you get refugee status, the Home Office will send you a biometric residence permit (BRP) by post. They’ll also ask you to set up an account for your online immigration status.

Online immigration statuses are replacing BRPs. Your BRP will only be valid until October 2024. After this date, you’ll need to use your online account to prove your immigration status. You can get help setting up an online status.

You can use your BRP or online status to confirm your:

  • identity

  • right to study

  • right to any public services or benefits that you're entitled to

Asylum support and 'section 4' support will stop 30 days after the date on your BRP. You'll get a letter confirming when asylum support will stop.

This means you’ll:

  • stop getting your cash allowance

  • have to move house - if you’ve been given somewhere to live as an asylum seeker

Once you’ve got refugee status, you’ll get permission to work in the UK - in any profession and at any skill level. If you’re not ready or able to look for work and have very little or no income, you can apply for benefits instead.

You’ll also have to think about opening a bank account and getting a National Insurance number.

When you get migrant status, the Home Office will tell Migrant Help. Migrant Help is an organisation that can help you find housing, claim benefits and make an appointment at the Jobcentre. They’ll contact you within 1 working day of being told about your migrant status.

If you need extra support

Contact your local Citizens Advice for help with benefits and housing, and to get details of local charities, English language schools and community groups.

Find a new home

If you’ve been living somewhere as part of getting asylum support, you’ll have to move within 30 days of the date on your BRP.

Your accommodation provider should send you a letter giving you at least 7 days’ notice of when you have to move out.

If you don’t get at least 7 days’ notice, Migrant Help can ask the Home Office to let you stay in your accommodation for longer.

You can contact Migrant Help by either:

  • sending an email to

  • calling the free asylum helpline on 0808 8010 503

If you already live with friends or family

You don’t need to move. If your friends or family are claiming benefits to help them pay rent, it might mean they get less.

If you need help getting housing

Contact your local council or housing office as soon as you can. The Home Office don’t provide accommodation to refugees, but your local council will be able to talk you through your options.

Whether you can stay in the same area depends on things like:

  • how long you’ve lived there

  • if you have family in the area

  • if you’re at risk of becoming homeless

It’s worth knowing there are long waiting lists for accommodation - you might be put in a bed and breakfast (B&B) or hostel temporarily.

Getting help if you’re homeless

If you’re worried about becoming homeless, you can call the homeless charity Shelter on 0808 800 4444.

Find out what to do in an emergency on Shelter Scotland's website.

If you need help paying a tenancy deposit, you can search for help to rent schemes through the housing charity Crisis.


If you’re ready to look for work, you can search online.

Contact the Scottish Refugee Council if you need help with your employment options.

Contact UK NARIC if you have qualifications from your home country - you’ll need to find their UK equivalent to find a similar job here. It costs at least £55.20 to do this.

When you’re offered a job, you’ll need to prove your right to work in the UK. Check how to prove your right to work.

Claiming benefits

You might be entitled to benefits in the UK even though you’ll stop getting Asylum Support.

You might be entitled to benefits like:

  • Universal Credit - if you’re unemployed, too ill to work or on a low wage

  • Pension Credit - if you’ve reached State Pension age

  • Housing Benefit - if you need help to pay rent and you’ve reached State Pension age or you’re in temporary or supported housing

  • a refugee integration loan - to help pay for a rent deposit, household items, education and training for work

You can check if you’ve reached State Pension age on GOV.UK.

You’ll need a National Insurance number to claim benefits - you’ll have applied for one at your interview with the Home Office when you first claimed asylum. You’ll also need it to pay tax and register with a doctor.

You can check what benefits you can get using a benefits calculator.

Get a National Insurance number

Normally, you’ll get your National Insurance (NI) number through the post just after you get refugee status.

If you haven’t received a NI number, call the National Insurance number application line. Ask whether they’ve issued you with a NI number - if they haven’t, ask what you need to do to get one.

Opening a bank account

Now that you have an immigration status, you’re allowed to open a UK bank account. It makes things like paying for food and bills much easier.

It should be an easy process if you have proof of your immigration status. You can show them your BRP or give them a share code if you have an online immigration status. The bank will also check with the Home Office to confirm you have permission to stay in the UK.

Travelling outside the UK

If you don’t have a passport, you can apply for a travel document. This lets you leave and return to the UK.

You can apply for a travel document on GOV.UK.


Once you have refugee status, you can register to vote in Scottish Parliament elections and Scottish local elections.

Find out how to register to vote on

You can't vote in UK general elections.

Get more help

You can find support for new refugees on the Scottish Refugee Council website.

It can help with things like:

  • housing

  • education

  • health

  • learning English

  • building social connections

Page last reviewed on 27 September 2019