Last updated: 10 July 2024

No Recourse to Public Funds, commonly shortened to NRPF, is a type of condition placed on visas which limits a person’s ability to access benefits and other types of financial support. 

Many migrants in the UK have an NRPF condition on their visa. It causes a huge amount of hardship for the people it affects, and for this reason has been ruled to be unlawful many times. These judgments have led to small changes in how NRPF works but the policy has not yet been abolished.

If you have leave to remain with NRPF, it is possible to apply to have the NRPF condition lifted (this means removed), so that you are able to access support. 

NRPF also applies to anyone who needs permission to be in the UK but does not have it. For example, if someone has overstayed their visa, or arrived in the UK irregularly without a visa and is undocumented.

This Key Guide includes information about the NRPF condition, with a focus on the visa condition. It explains how you can apply to have it lifted, and lists organisations who can help. 

This key guide covers: 

What is the NRPF visa condition?

No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) is a type of condition placed on temporary visas in the UK to limit access to benefits and other types of financial support.

If you have an NRPF condition on your visa, it will usually say ‘no public funds’ under the ‘Remarks’ on the back of your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP card) if you have one, or it will be stamped into your passport. It will also be written in your Home Office decision letter or email.

If you are undocumented, you will be affected by NRPF by default, but you might not have a document which proves this.

Who is affected by NRPF? 

NRPF affects many migrants in the UK.

Research shows that at the end of 2022, about 2.6 million people had an NPRF condition on their visa. This is a huge increase from previous years. 

In 2017, there were an estimated 674,000 undocumented people living in the UK with NRPF. This figure is now outdated and likely to be an underestimation at the time.

Asylum seekers and refused asylum seekers also have NRPF, but could be entitled to asylum support if they are destitute and meet certain conditions. As of June 2023, the total ‘work in progress’ asylum caseload consisted of 215,500 cases. All these people have NRPF.

Most migrants with temporary leave will have an NRPF condition on their visa. This includes people seeking asylum, people with limited leave to remain (‘permission to stay’), people on the 10 year route to settlement, and EU citizens with pre-settled status.

You can see if you are affected by NRPF by looking at: 

  • Your biometric residence permit (if you have one)
  • Your online immigration status (if you have access)
  • Your decision letter or email from the Home Office

The NRPF condition also indirectly affects family members and dependents of people who have the condition – such as British children whose parents have an NRPF condition on their visa. 

Applying to regularise your stay in the UK

This guide is focused on NRPF as a visa condition. However, many migrants in the UK are affected by NRPF because they are undocumented. If you are undocumented, you should seek immigration advice on regularising your stay in the UK. If you are homeless or on a low income, you may also be able to apply for a fee waiver for your immigration application. 

What are public funds?

‘Public funds’ are certain types of benefits, homelessness assistance, and social housing. 

It is important to know what is classified as a public fund if you have an NRPF condition on your visa. A person who deliberately claims public funds if they have an NRPF condition on their visa is committing a criminal offence. 

Paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules lists ‘public funds’ for immigration purposes. Here is the full list as of July 2024, but please refer to the rules for an updated list

  • attendance allowance
  • carers allowance
  • child benefit
  • child tax credit
  • council tax benefit
  • council tax reduction
  • disability living allowance
  • discretionary support payments by local authorities or devolved administrations in Scotland and Northern Ireland which replace the discretionary social fund
  • housing and homelessness assistance
  • housing benefit
  • income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • income related employment & support allowance
  • income support
  • personal independence payment
  • severe disablement allowance
  • social fund payment
  • state pension credit
  • universal credit
  • working tax credit

The following benefits administered by Social Security Scotland are also classed as ‘public funds’ for immigration purposes: 

  • Adult Disability Payment 
  • Carer’s Allowance Supplement 
  • Child Disability Payment
  • Child Winter Heating Assistance
  • Funeral Support Payment 
  • Job Start Payment 
  • Scottish Child Payment 
  • Winter Heating Payment 

There are some exceptions to NRPF, such as sponsorship undertakings and reciprocal social security agreements. To read more about this, visit the NRPF Network website here.

In addition, some people with NRPF who have been in work, or paid National Insurance contributions may be able to claim some welfare support. For more information on this, visit the NRPF Network website here.

What is not a public fund?

Some forms of support are not classed as public funds, which means you can access them even if you have an NRPF visa condition. 

These include: 

  • Education (all people in the UK have the right to access free primary and secondary education)
  • Healthcare (primary healthcare, such as GP and emergency health services are free for all. Read this blog for more information about what healthcare you can access for free as a migrant)
  • Free School Meals (you can apply for free school meals if you are below a certain income threshold. See the government website here for more details)
  • Council tax discounts (such as the sole occupancy discount)
  • Statutory Sick Pay (this means the money you are entitled to if you are too ill to work. See the government website here for more details) and Statutory Maternity Pay (this is the money you are entitled to if you take time off work to have a baby)
  • Social care (this includes assistance for vulnerable children, young people and adults)
  • Section 17 support (this comes from Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, and gives local authorities the power to provide support (including accommodation and financial support) to families with children in need, even those with NRPF visa conditions)
  • Asylum Support
  • Entry into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) if you have experienced trafficking or modern slavery
  • Contribution based benefits (related to past work or payment of national insurance contributions. The full list can be found here)

Habitual Residence Test

To qualify for certain benefits, including those which are considered ‘public funds’, you must meet the Habitual Residence Test. 

This means you must show that you are living in the UK and have an intention to continue living here for the time being. You also must have lived in the UK for an ‘appreciable period of time’.

Home Office guidance does not specify how long you must have lived in the UK to be Habitually Resident: the length of time is not fixed, and depends on your circumstances. For example, a person with settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) will be eligible for public funds if they are habitually resident in the UK.

See this information about how to pass the Habitual Residence Test.

These rules apply even if you are a British citizen. If you do not pass the Habitual Residence Test, you might be unable to access public funds in the same way as someone who has a NRPF condition on their visa.

If you have been refused access to benefits because you have failed the Habitual Residence Test, see this information here.

The impact of NRPF

For many people, living in the UK with NPRF is very difficult. The costs of NRPF are both financial and emotional, and the condition causes extreme hardship to the people it affects.

Having a NRPF condition on your visa has the effect of taking away the ‘safety net’ which exists for people who can access welfare benefits. This means that people with NRPF are more at risk of destitution and poverty

Applying to have a NRPF condition lifted

Some people with NRPF can apply to the Home Office to have the condition lifted. This is done through a ‘Change of Conditions’ application. 

Making a Change of Conditions application is free, but the application can be complex. You can make an application without a lawyer, but it is a good idea to get advice beforehand if you can. There is no legal aid available for these applications.

Making a Change of Conditions is regulated legal advice. This means that if an advisor helps you with your application they must be at least OISC level 1 (see OISC Guidance on Competence).

Figures from May 2024 showed that 65% of ‘Change of Conditions’ applications were successful, and resulted in the NPRF condition being lifted from a person’s visa.

Who can apply for a Change of Conditions application?

Generally, you can make a Change of Conditions application if you have permission to stay under a Family or Private life route, or the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) route

You may be able to make a Change of Conditions application in these cases: 

  • If you are a parent on the 5 year route
  • If you are on the 10 year route
  • If you have lived in UK more than 20 years
  • If you are a child and you have lived in the UK for more than 7 years
  • If you are between 18-25 and you have lived in the UK for more than half your life
  • If you are on a family/private life route outside of the rules

Home Office guidance on public funds from 2023 also states that the Home Secretary has wide discretion (this means power) to lift the NRPF condition from any immigration route. This is the result of a landmark legal ruling on an application to lift the NRPF condition from a student dependant. There is more information about the possibilities and risks of applying for recourse to public funds if you have a visa other than those listed above here.

How to make for a change of conditions application

To make a change of conditions application you apply online here

To apply, you also must also be able to show that: 

  • You are destitute, or at risk of imminent destitution (read more about destitution here)
  • There are reasons that you need recourse to public funds relating to the welfare of a child
  • You are facing exceptional circumstance affecting your income or expenditure (such as disability or health condition)

Making a Change of Conditions application requires a lot of evidence. You will usually need to provide 6 months of financial evidence to explain how you have been living and why you need access to public funds. You can learn more about how to do this here.

If you are making the application on the basis of the welfare of a child, you will need evidence to show how NRPF affects the child. 

ACTION SECTION: Evidence needed for a Change of Conditions Application

  • Look carefully at the suggested list of evidence here. Once you have submitted the application you will also be given another list of evidence that is specific to your circumstances.
  • If you have been receiving Section 17 support, it is important that you have a letter that confirms this in your application.
  • You will usually have to submit bank statements going back 6 months. Make sure to include all banks in your name, and any in your children’s names, even if they are empty. The Home Office will run a credit check and will find any bank accounts you do not disclose.
  • Write on your bank statements to explain ‘significant incoming and outgoing payments’. The Home Office does not define what ‘significant’ means, but it is likely to mean transactions over £100, money you transferred abroad, and money you gave to someone else.
  • If you cannot provide some evidence for whatever reason, you can write in the text box at the end of the form to explain why
  • Once you have completed the online form, you will normally have 10 working days to submit your evidence.
  • Watch this video from Unity Project on making a Change of Conditions application here.

Will making a Change of Conditions application affect my leave?

Some people worry that making a Change of Conditions application will affect their leave to remain. 

If you are on a private, family or Hong Kong route, making a change of conditions application is very unlikely to affect your leave.

However, if you are on a route with certain conditions attached, such as that you can cover your own accommodation and maintenance costs, making a Change of Conditions application may affect your leave.

Following the case of PA & Anor, in 2023 the Home Office expanded the criteria under which it is possible to apply for a Change of Conditions application. Now those on student, graduate and skilled worker visas can also apply for a Change of Conditions application. However, if you are on one of these routes you may have certain conditions attached to your leave such as that you must cover your own accommodation and maintenance costs. These conditions may affect how the Home Office views a Change of Conditions application and creates risks which are outlined here. If you are worried about this happening, it is a good idea to get legal advice.

What happens after you have submitted a Change of Conditions application?

There is no specific guidance on how long it takes to receive a decision on a Change of Conditions application. The published statistics give an indication of current decision timeframes. In 2023, the average time taken by the Home Office to make a decision was 47 days.

If you have faced a delay of over two months, you could speak to a solicitor or contact The Unity Project about possibly issuing a Pre-Action Protocol (PAP) letter. This letter will demand that the Home Office makes a decision on your application as soon as possible.

If your application is successful

You will be able to apply for welfare support for the remainder of your leave. This is not automatic, and you will need to make an application for a specific type of support – such as Universal Credit or Homelessness assistance. 

If your application is refused

If your application is refused, it is a good idea to get advice from a legal advisor about your options. 

In some cases, it might be possible to make a new application. Or, you might be able to legally challenge the Home Office’s decision with an Administrative Review or a Judicial Review.

Organisations who can help 

There are a few different organisations who might be able to help you with managing a NRPF visa condition, or applying to have it removed. 

  • The Unity Project is a charity which provides free legal support to migrants facing poverty because of the NRPF condition. See information from the Unity Project about how to apply to have the condition lifted here.
  • The No Recourse to Public Funds Network is a national network safeguarding the welfare of destitute families, adults and care leavers who are unable to access benefits due to their immigration status. They have resources about the rights and entitlements of people with NRPF conditions which you can view for free here.This includes information on support options for example, social services support for families/adults, and immigration options.
  • Project 17 is a charity working to end destitution among migrant families with NRPF. They have advice and support for people with NRPF. They also offer a casework service, with advice by appointment for individuals and people supporting them.
    For individuals: Please complete this form about your situation. After you have filled in the form, they will contact you to find out more or book an appointment. If you are unable to complete the form, please leave a voicemail on 07963 509044 or send an email to
    For professionals: call 07701 330 016 or email to discuss your client’s case.
    Project 17 also have this very helpful NRPF Toolkit for Social Workers.
  • To search for a local organisation which might be able to help you manage an NRPF visa condition, view the Right to Remain Directory here

Campaigns calling for an end to NRPF

Because of the damaging impact of the NRPF policy on millions of people in the UK, there are many campaigns which call for the end to NRPF.

Project 17 has a campaign group called United Impact of around 60 people with the NRPF condition.

The NRPF policy has been found to be unlawful in court several times. You can read more about its unlawfulness here and here.

Having a NRPF condition also means that parents are excluded from the government’s childcare allowance. This has been raised by the No Recourse to Public Funds Action Group, and Praxis, who are campaigning for #ChildcareForAll.