Advice for people from abroad

Where you are from will affect whether you are entitled to social housing or other assistance. If you live in Northern Ireland and have a British or Irish passport you should be eligible for help. 

If you are a British or Irish citizen returning to the UK or British passport holder coming to the UK for the first time you will have to meet the conditions of the Habitual Residence Test (HRT). Working out whether you are eligible for social housing can be complicated.

More information can be obtained from your local Housing Executive office, Advice Centre or Housing Rights Service.

Establishing Eligibility for Social Housing and Assistance 

When you come to us we will carry out an investigation to determine if you are eligible for social housing or other assistance. We call this ‘the eligibility test’. We will ask the same initial questions to all applicants. We will need to confirm your nationality as there are different rules depending on whether you are from within the European Economic Area (EEA), or from a country outside the EEA. 

If you are an EEA national you will be asked to provide your passport or EU National Identity Card and any information about your working history in the UK. If you are a non EEA national and subject to immigration control, you will be asked to provide a copy of your passport and all other documents issued to you by the Home Office. This may include your bio-metric card and immigration status documents. Whether you are an EEA or non-EEA national, in some circumstances we may also request copies of birth and marriage certificates.

European Economic Area (EEA)

The European Economic Area (EEA) includes a number of European Union countries. These include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

The EEA also includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Citizens from Switzerland also have the same rights to live and work in the UK as other EEA nationals.

If you are thinking about applying for social housing or other assistance you must have a right to reside in the UK. There are a number of factors that may affect your status:

  • You may have a right to reside in the UK if you are a worker, or are self-employed. 
  • You may still have a right to reside in the UK if you are not working, or you are temporarily unable to work. For example, if you are the parent or carer of a child in education
  • If you are not an EEA national you may still be eligible if you are a family member of an eligible EEA national
  • In some circumstances you may not be eligible for social housing or other assistance even if you have a right to reside in the UK. These circumstances include where you are looking for work but have never worked, or if you’ve left the labour market

Non-EEA nationals

If we establish that you are not from an EEA country, and therefore a ‘person subject to immigration control’ you will usually not be eligible for social housing or other assistance. Only some people subject to immigration control are eligible for social housing and other assistance, for instance, if you have been given:

  • refugee status
  • discretionary leave to remain
  • humanitarian protection

If you have been granted indefinite leave to remain you will usually be eligible, although there are some exceptions, and you may have to meet the conditions of the Habitual Residence Test (HRT).

Generally, if you have no recourse to public funds or other forms of limited leave to remain you will not be eligible for social housing or other assistance. 

If you are an asylum seeker you will get help through the National Asylum Support Service (NASS). 

Ensuring fairness

We aim to treat all households and individuals with complete fairness when providing our services. We do this regardless of your political affiliation, religious belief or racial group. The Housing Selection Scheme is the set of rules, approved by the Department for Communities that we apply when determining eligibility for social housing and which is designed to be fair and open as well as give applicants a choice in where they wish to live.

This ensures that if you are eligible we will allocate points, determine your place on the social housing waiting list, and consider housing offers and allocation on the basis of your housing need alone. Learn more about the Housing Selection Scheme.

Language support

To view this website in a different language - including Polish, Lithuanian, Czech and Chinese - either click on 'Translate' at the top of the screen, or on the 'Browsealoud' logo at the top right of your screen, then choose the language you want. 

We can also provide language support if you do not speak English as a first language. The telephone based interpretation service ‘The Big Word’ is available throughout our local offices, and we can provide face-to-face interpreters if required.  

How to apply for a home
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