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Advice for Persons from Abroad

Updated: 16 Jan 2019
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Housing Executive property, Ballybeen

Advice for persons from abroad

The Housing Executive must be satisfied, so far as practicable, that all applicants are eligible to be accepted on to the waiting list and to be made an allocation of accommodation under the rules of the Housing Selection Scheme.
People who live in Northern Ireland and have either a British or Irish passport should be eligible for help. British and Irish Citizens returning to the UK or a British passport holder coming to the UK for the first time will have to satisfy the Habitual Residence Test (HRT).
Working out eligibility can be complicated. More information can be obtained from your local Housing Executive office, Advice Center or Housing Rights Service.

Establishing Eligibility for an Allocation or Homelessness Assistance

It will be necessary to establish the applicant’s nationality in order to determine whether he/she is eligible to go on the Waiting List for an allocation of a Housing Executive or Housing Association tenancy or for homelessness assistance. There are different rules depending on whether you are a national from a country within the European Economic Area (EEA) or from a country outside the EEA.

European Economic Area (EEA) nationals

The European Economic Area (EEA) includes the following European Union countries:
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. Switzerland is neither an EU or EEA member but is part of the single market and these nationals have the same rights to live and work in the UK as other EEA nationals.
To be eligible for housing in Northern Ireland, EEA nationals must have a right to reside in the UK:
  • A right to reside can be gained for people who are a worker or are self-employed, but there are special rules which apply to some nationals, e.g. citizens of Croatia.
  • In some cases, people are no longer working or who are temporarily unable to work are also eligible if they have retained their rights of residence or if they are the parent or carer of a child in education.
  • Family members of eligible EEA nationals may be eligible in certain circumstances, even when they are not themselves EEA nationals.
  • Some rights to reside, such as those for people looking for work who have never worked, or who have previously left the labour market, do not make people eligible.

Persons Subject to Immigration Control (Non-EEA Nationals)

The Housing Executive must establish if an Applicant is a person from outside the EEA (Non-EEA National) and therefore a “person subject to immigration control”.  That means a person who, under the Immigration Act 1971, requires leave to enter or remain in the UK (whether or not such leave has been given).  Citizens of countries from outside the EEA are generally subject to immigration control and need permission to enter or remain in the UK. People who are subject to immigration control or who need permission to enter or leave the UK are not usually entitled to help. If you’re an asylum seeker you’ll get help through the National Asylum Support Service.
The eligibility rules for Northern Ireland say that only some people subject to immigration control are eligible:
  • Refugees, people with discretionary leave, humanitarian protection or exceptional leave following an application for asylum,
  • People with indefinite leave to remain are eligible (with some exceptions) but have to pass the habitual residence test.
  • Generally, people with no recourse to public funds or other forms of limited leave to remain are not eligible.

Housing Executive enquiries and evidence required

The Housing Executive will put the same initial questions to all applicants and will carry out an investigation referred to as ‘The Eligibility Test’ for Persons from Abroad. The Housing Executive will need a copy of passport and all other relevant documents issued by the Home Office to persons who are subject to immigration control e.g. Bio-Metric Card and Immigration Status Documents. EEA nationals will need to provide their passport or EU National Identity Card and information regarding their working history in the UK. In some circumstances copies of Birth and Marriage Certificates may also be required.

Ensuring Housing Allocations are fair

The Housing Executives strives to ensure complete fairness in the treatment of all households and individuals in the provision of housing for those in need regardless of political affiliation, religious belief or racial group. If a person is eligible for an allocation of accommodation their religion, race, ethnicity will play no part in any points they are awarded, their place on the Waiting List or in any offer or allocation that they are made.
The Scheme has been created to be fair and open and to give applicants a choice in where they want to live.

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