“No Recourse To Public Funds”- Its Meaning & Legal Basis Discussed

If you have recently been granted limited leave to enter or remain you may have noticed that your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) states the following, “no recourse to public funds”. In effect, this prohibits the migrant of that visa accessing certain government benefits. It should be noted that anyone caught claiming public funds under such circumstances is committing a criminal offence which can have a detrimental impact on the individuals immigration status (i.e. your leave could be curtailed, or any future applications could be refused).

Section 115 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 also prevents migrants from accessing a range of welfare benefits unless they fall into one of the very exceptional circumstances.

Any person who does not have the right of abode or a right of residence in EU law is required to have leave to enter or remain. So, says section 1 of the Immigration Act 1971:

“No recourse to public funds”- Legal Basis:

All those who are in this Act expressed to have the right of abode in the United Kingdom shall be free to live in, and to come and go into and from, the United Kingdom without let or hindrance except such as may be required under and in accordance with this Act to enable their right to be established or as may be otherwise lawfully imposed on any person

Those not having that right may live, work and settle in the United Kingdom by permission and subject to such regulation and control of their entry into, stay in and departure from the United Kingdom as is imposed by this Act; and indefinite leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom shall, by virtue of this provision, be treated as having been given under this Act to those in the United Kingdom at its coming into force, if they are then settled there (and not exempt under this Act from the provisions relating to leave to enter or remain).

Therefore, when limited leave to enter or remain is granted to an individual, the 1971 Act allows the Secretary of State to impose certain conditions on that leave. This power is conferred by virtue of section 3 of the Act. Among the possible conditions is one requiring the person “to maintain and accommodate himself, and any dependants of his, without recourse to public funds”.

This is power is discretionary and does not have to be used. Decisions on when the various powers will and will not be used are guided by the Immigration Rules.