Permission to work
Applicants do not have permission to work while they are waiting for a decision, unless they had permission to work before making the application and that permission continued. It is against the law to work without permission.
Access to health services
People who have made a stateless application and who are receiving Section 4 support (see the section on Financial support and a place to live) can get free healthcare with the National Health Service (NHS). However, if they are not receiving Section 4 support, they are only entitled to free primary health care. This means they can register with a GP and attend Accident and Emergency for urgent treatment. They may have to pay for any further treatment. Further information about access to health care can be found here and a useful video here.
People who do not have permission to stay in the UK are not allowed to rent accommodation. Stateless people should check with their adviser whether they are allowed to rent accommodation, and if they are allowed to rent, what documents they could use to prove this.
Shelter is a charity that may be able to help people who are unsure whether they a have the right to rent or who are facing homelessness. Further information about the right to rent is available here.
Driving a vehicle
The Driving and Vehicle Licence Agency (DVLA) is not allowed to issue a licence to anyone who is not ‘lawfully resident’ in the UK. Even if a valid driving licence was issued previously, if the person no longer has the right to stay in the UK, the DVLA can revoke the licence. They do not have to inform the person that they have revoked their licence. You can check if your licence has been revoked here. It is against the law to drive without a valid driving licence.
People without permission to stay in the UK are not allowed to open or maintain a current account with a bank. They may be able to open other types of bank accounts. The Home Office now shares details of disqualified persons with an anti-fraud organisation and banks will check their current account holders against those details.
Stateless people should discuss with their adviser whether they are allowed to open and/or keep open a bank account, and if they are, what documents they can provide to do this.
Stateless people may be eligible for financial support and/or accommodation while they are waiting for a decision on a stateless application, if they were previously refused asylum. This type of support is called ‘Section 4’ support, because it is provided under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
If a person has been refused asylum, they are eligible for Section 4 support if they are destitute or likely to become destitute within 14 days and meet one of these criteria:
- They are taking ‘all reasonable steps’ to leave the UK; or
- They cannot travel for a medical reason or for certain other reasons; or
- There is no way to get to their country of former habitual residence; or
- Permission has been granted for judicial review of a decision on their asylum claim; or
- Their human rights will be violated if they are not provided accommodation.
For refused asylum seekers who are destitute and have a statelessness application pending, it is generally accepted that it would be a breach of their human rights not to be provided with support.
Applications for support can be made using Form ASF1.
Section 4 support generally includes:
- A place to live.
- £47.39 per week for each person in the family, on a payment card, for food, clothing and toiletries - if in self-catered accommodation. £9.58 if in catered accommodation. (Amounts will change and should be checked here).
- Additional amounts are provided for pregnant mothers and young children.
The Asylum Support Appeals Project (ASAP) has many resources on its website and may be able to offer assistance if support is refused, but they cannot assist applicants with applications or any pre-appeal work. Stateless persons who are refused support can ask their lawyer or an organisation that is helping them to contact ASAP for advice if needed or contact ASAP directly.
If an application to stay in the UK as a stateless person under Immigration Rules Part 14 is refused, there is no standard right of appeal to a tribunal (as there is against refusal of an application for asylum). However, it is possible to ask the Home Office to review the decision through an internal process called administrative review.
Information about how to ask the Home Office to review their decision is available here. There is no fee.
If possible, applicants should seek help from a qualified adviser for assistance with applying for administrative review.
If the Home Office does not grant the application after an administrative review, the applicant may be able to apply for judicial review. This means asking a court to consider whether the Home Office’s decision contains important legal errors. If the court decides there were important legal errors in the decision, the court may tell the Home Office to make a new decision.
Applicants should seek help from a qualified adviser for assistance with making a judicial review application. This work can be done with legal aid funding if the case has merit (that is, if it is a reasonably strong case) and if the applicant has a low income and not much in savings.
It is also possible to make a new application for stateless leave if there is new evidence that can be submitted.
Permission to stay in the UK
If a stateless application is granted, the applicant and any dependent family members in the UK will usually be granted permission to stay in the UK for 5 years. They will be issued with a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). If there is any problem with a BRP – an error in the name or date of birth, or it is damaged - it can be reported here. Any problem must be reported within 10 days of receiving the BRP or there may be a charge for a replacement.
Most BRPs are only valid until 31 December 2024. This is because the Home Office is planning to replace BRPs with digital status. It is not the date when the person’s leave to remain expires.
Currently, after 5 years of statelessness leave, an application can be made for indefinite leave to remain. It is very important to make this application before stateless leave expires.
See the section on Staying in the UK Permanently.
Permission to work
If an application for permission to stay in the UK as a stateless person is granted, the applicant and dependent family members will be given permission to work in the UK. Their BRP will have a National Insurance number printed on the back. This is necessary to work legally in the UK.
Eligibility for social welfare benefits and healthcare
If a person is given permission to stay in the UK as a stateless person, they and their dependent family members, will be able to access public healthcare and most social welfare benefits (if they meet any other criteria that apply).
Advice on which benefits you might be eligible for can be obtained from Citizens Advice.
Stateless person’s travel document
People who are recognised as stateless are eligible to apply for a travel document.
The travel document is valid for travel to any country that accepts it, but it does not give the right to the protection abroad that British citizens have British embassies, high commissions or consulates.
The current fees for a stateless person’s travel document are £75 for adults and £49 for children.
Information about how to apply for a stateless person’s travel document is available here.
Family members who applied as dependents should be given permission to stay in the UK for the same amount of time as the main applicant.
Family members can apply for visas to come to the UK and be given permission to stay in line with the main applicant. The rules for family reunion are in Paragraphs 410-416 of the Immigration Rules Part 14.
A family member must be one of the following:
• Spouse – legally married or in a civil partnership;
• Partner – if not married or in a civil partnership, they must have lived together for at least 2 years;
• Unmarried dependent child under 18.
Family members outside the UK who are eligible to join a person granted permission to stay in the UK as a stateless person must apply for a UK visa. Instructions on how to do that are available here.
Family reunion applications are not included under standard legal aid, but applicants who need legal assistance with family reunion and are not able to pay for it may apply for exceptional case funding. See the sections on Legal advice, Legal aid and Obtaining exceptional case funding.
The British Red Cross may be able to help with family reunion in some cases, including by looking for family members whose location is unknown.
Extending permission to stay as a stateless person
If an application for permission to stay in the UK as a stateless person is approved, normally the applicant will be given permission to stay for 5 years, under paragraph 405 of the Immigration Rules Part 14. Up until April 2019 successful applicants were granted 30 months leave. If this was the case, they can make an application for a further 30 months leave to remain.
Staying in the UK permanently / indefinitely
After being in UK with stateless leave for 5 years in a row, a person can apply to stay permanently (this is called indefinite leave to remain or ILR).
The application is also made on form FLR(S). There is no fee for an ILR application for anyone with stateless leave. It is not required to have passed the Knowledge of Life in the UK test or have an English language qualification.
The rules about ILR, for applicants and family members, are at paragraphs 407-409 and 415-416 of the Immigration Rules Part 14.
At the time of applying for ILR under Part 14, the applicant must still be stateless, not excluded from recognition as a stateless person and not admissible to any other country. They must also not fall for refusal under the Immigration Rules Part 9.
Under the British Nationality Act 1981, there are several different processes through which a stateless person might acquire British citizenship. Some of them are detailed here but British citizenship applications often involve complicated legal issues and require help from a qualified adviser. Like stateless applications, British citizenship applications are not covered by standard legal aid. However, it is possible to apply for exceptional case funding to obtain free legal advice. See the section on Legal aid and on Legal advice.
- Children under the age of 22 who are born in the UK, have always been stateless and have spent the last five years living in the UK are entitled to register as British. Children aged 5-17 must additionally satisfy the Home Office that they are unable to acquire another nationality. They apply on Form S3. Guidance can be found here.
- Children born in the UK who spend the first 10 years of their life in the UK may be able to register as British regardless of their ability to acquire another nationality. They apply on Form T.
- Some other children may be registered as British citizens at the discretion of the Secretary of State.
There is a fee to register a child. This is currently £1,012. The fee must be paid unless it can be shown that it is unaffordable and a fee waiver is granted. More information about the fee waiver can be found here. You can check current visa fees here.
More information about children’s right to British citizenship is available from the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens, which provides free legal assistance to some children who have a right to British citizenship and cannot afford to pay for legal assistance. They have produced a leaflet on Children and the Right to British citizenship which can be found here.
Naturalisation - an adult can naturalise as a British citizen if:
- They have held indefinite leave to remain for 1 year and have lived in the UK for 5 years.
- They are married to a British citizen, have been granted indefinite leave to remain and have lived in the UK for 3 years.
There are several other requirements that must be met for a successful application. More information can be found here and here. The current fee is £1,250 and it is not possible to apply for a fee waiver. You can check current visa fees here.
A person who is stateless but has a parent who is a British citizen, a British overseas territories citizen, a British overseas citizen or a British subject, may be able to register as a British citizen.
The application to register as a British citizen in this case is made on:
- Form S1 for stateless people born before 1 January 1983
- Form S2 for stateless people born outside the UK after 1 January 1983
- Form S3 for people born in the UK after 1 January 1983
Guidance on all the S forms: British citizenship – Registration as a stateless person can be found here.