Expanded Eligibility for Removal of the ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ Condition

A photo of a solicitor explaining the expanded eligibility for removal of the no recourse to public funds condition to a client at Axis Solicitors.

Axis Solicitors informs that the Home Office has widened its discretionary powers to remove the ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF) condition for a broader range of individuals with different types of leave to remain in the UK.

Legal Proceedings Lead to Policy Revision

A notable judicial review, R (PA & Anor) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] EWHC 2476 (Admin), involving a mother and her child, has led to significant changes in how the Home Office assesses requests to lift NRPF conditions. The mother, initially a student’s dependent spouse with work permission, found herself without support after her relationship ended. Although she had applied for a different immigration route, her request to lift the NRPF condition was initially denied because she was not on a specific immigration route.

The Home Office, facing judicial scrutiny, acknowledged that under the Immigration Act 1971, it retains the discretion to consider varying leave conditions, including the potential lifting of NRPF conditions across all immigration routes.

New Policy Instruction Details

After this outcome, the Home Office updated its Public funds caseworker guidance, emphasising the Secretary of State’s discretion in lifting or not imposing NRPF conditions. This guidance outlines that while the default position remains unchanged for those outside family life, private life, or Hong Kong BN(O) immigration routes, exceptional circumstances, particularly those involving the welfare of children or the risk of poverty, will now be considered more broadly.

The same guidance also advises that if an individual’s inability to return to their home country is linked to a protection or human rights issue, they should pursue an appropriate application to address their primary reasons for remaining in the UK.

Implications for Those Affected

For people in a similar situation, this policy shift opens a new avenue when facing financial hardship to access public funds and local authority housing support, regardless of their immigration route. It is critical, however, to note that those without family or private life or Hong Kong BN(O) leave may still be expected to return to their home country unless they can demonstrate compelling reasons to lift the NRPF condition.

Individuals in these situations must seek guidance from an immigration solicitor to determine the appropriate strategy for applying to change NRPF conditions.

Previously, there has been an uptick in enquiries from those ineligible for changing conditions due to their leave type. Considering this policy change, many people facing hardship could avoid such dire circumstances by getting their NRPF condition lifted in time. However, this change does not impact individuals with pre-settled status as they are not subject to NRPF conditions.

While the change of conditions application process provides an essential protective measure, it does not alter a council’s duty to assess and address a child’s needs as expected. This support may continue to be necessary while applications are pending or legal advice is being sought.

Axis Solicitors remains committed to providing up-to-date guidance and support for those navigating these complex immigration issues and encourages anyone potentially affected to seek our professional advice.

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