Information for refugees – settling in

General information to help you settle into life in North Lincolnshire including immigration status, opening a bank account and learning English

group of people sat around a table talking

Your status

If you have refugee or Humanitarian Protection status in the UK, it means that:

  • You may legally remain in the UK for five years from the date you are a recognised as a refugee or in need of Humanitarian Protection
  • You can access public services e.g., healthcare and schools
  • You can apply to stay permanently in the UK (known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) after five years
  • You may work
  • You may apply for social welfare benefits to support you to live and find work.

People granted Humanitarian Protection or refugee status have a number of the same entitlements. However, refugee status has some differences to Humanitarian Protection, for example in relation to university applications and education support and travelling to other countries.

Family links

Where possible, the aim is for refugees to be resettled as a family group but sometimes families can become separated. Opportunities for other family members to join you in the UK may be very limited and there is no guarantee that they will be able to join you. These opportunities may include family reunion under the immigration rules, Family Migration routes and resettlement.

If you have family based in one of the UK’s resettlement host countries and they wish to join you in the UK, this may be possible but there is no guarantee. Resettlement is only available to a very small number of refugees and places are therefore reserved for the most vulnerable cases only.

You should advise them:

  • To register with UNHCR in one of the UK’s resettlement host countries.
  • To tell UNHCR that they wish to be reunited with you in the UK, providing your UNHCR reference number if you know this.
  • UNHCR may assess if resettlement is the appropriate solution for your family and whether they can be prioritised for resettlement based on their needs.
  • Even if UNHCR refer your family members to the UK under the resettlement scheme, the UK might reject the application or not be able to find suitable accommodation.
  • If the UK accepts them, we will try our best to locate families close to each other, but this is not always possible and they may be resettled in a different area of the UK.

If you are married or have a partner and/or children under the age of 18, the leave you have been granted entitles your spouse or partner and minor children to join you in the UK, providing they were part of your family unit before you left your country of origin to seek asylum. They will need to meet certain conditions which are set out in the Home Office policy on Family Reunion and the Immigration Rules. You can find the policy on the Government website.

Family Reunion visas are free of charge. Your family must apply online at the settlement refugee or humanitarian protection family reunion webpage and make an appointment at a UK Visa Application Centre overseas to enrol their biometrics. The visa will be issued if the Visa Officer is satisfied, from the evidence presented, that the applicant is related as claimed to the person they are applying to join in the UK. This may lead to a review of your entitlement to refugee or Humanitarian Protection status in the UK.

If your spouse or partner and minor children are not in the UK and want to apply for family reunion, they will need to make an application for entry clearance to the UK before they travel.
If your family members wish to visit you in the UK for a shorter period of time, they may be able to apply for a visit visa although this may not be successful.

Biometric residents permit

Once you have been recognised as a refugee you will receive a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) in the post which will have your national insurance number on the reverse of the card. You will receive your BRP within 5 to 7 working days from when you have been granted refugee or Humanitarian Protection status.

Please keep this important document safe as it is evidence of your legal status in the UK and shows how long you may stay in the UK for.

It will also say that you are allowed to work in the UK. This document is required to access benefits, healthcare, apply for jobs, and so on. You do not need to pay for the BRP.

Travelling outside the UK

You can travel outside the UK. However, you should not travel to your country of origin and/or the country from which you sought refuge as this could result in the withdrawal of your refugee or Humanitarian Protection status when you return to the UK. The rules relating to travelling outside the UK depend on whether you have Humanitarian Protection or refugee status.

If you have Humanitarian Protection you:

  • Can travel on your national passport if you still hold a valid national passport
  • Must take your BRP with you if you travel, as you will need to show this to an immigration officer to demonstrate that you have the right to enter and stay in the UK
  • If you don’t have a passport you should apply for a Home Office Travel Document (see below)

If you have refugee status you:

  • Cannot travel on your national passport, even if you still hold a valid passport, as this may impact your refugee status
  • Will need to apply to the Home Office for a travel document.

Applying for travel documents

If you are issued with a Home Office Travel Document, this will not be valid for travel back to your home country. Details of how to apply and the cost of a Home Office travel document can be found at: www.gov.uk/apply-home-office-travel-document.

You may need a visa to travel to other countries. Please check the visa and other entry requirements of the country you wish to visit via the relevant embassy for that country in London before buying a ticket or attempting to travel.

Support from Migrant Help

If you have been receiving support from the Home Office, this will stop 28 days after your BRP has been sent to you. This means that you will need to make an appointment with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) at your local Jobcentre to ask for help in finding employment, and to claim the benefits you are entitled to. You will also need to arrange your own housing.

If you have received asylum support from the Home Office, Migrant Help can provide advice about accessing benefits, housing and other services before the end of the 28 day period when your asylum support will end. They can help you book an appointment at your local Jobcentre to access benefits and receive advice on employment.

The Home Office will notify Migrant Help about the outcome of your asylum claim and Migrant Help will contact you within one working day. They will advise of the support they can provide and if you wish to receive their assistance, they will schedule a follow-on appointment.

Appointments will be provided either via telephone or face to face. Contact 0808 8010 503 or visit www.migranthelpuk.org/contact.

Opening a bank account

Opening a bank account is important when you are recognised as a refugee: to keep your money safe and to enable you to receive payments. Benefit payments will usually be paid directly into your bank account and it is also the easiest way for employers to pay you when you get a job.

There are a range of banks, and you can choose one that suits you best. There are also online-only providers which you can use.

In order to open a bank account, you will usually need to show a form of identification such as your passport or BRP as well as proof of your address, such as your tenancy agreement or a gas, electric or phone bill. Some banks will accept sight of your Universal Credit account as proof of identification.

You should ask about any charges when you open a bank account. Depending on the terms and conditions of your account, you may be charged if you spend more money than you have or for other services that may be included.

Once you open your account, you will usually be issued with a debit card which can be used to pay for things in most shops. You can also arrange for bills to be paid directly from your account using ‘direct debit’.

Learning English

Learning to speak English is very important and will help you to settle into your new life and live independently, enable you to go to the doctor on you own, help your children at school and help you get a job or study further.

You are entitled to free English language tuition if you are unemployed and looking for work. If you are attending appointments at the Jobcentre, your work coach may refer you to an English language class.

You do not need to know any English to join an English course. Classes can be a lot of fun and are a good place to meet people and make friends.

You can find information about English classes by contacting North Lincolnshire Adult Education and Community Learning on 01724 297146 or at nlacl.enquiries@northlincs.gov.uk, or alternatively by visiting www.northlincsadulteducation.co.uk/courses/.

Before you join a class, a teacher will check your level and find out more about you, so that you can join a class with people who are at a similar level as you, and which is suitable for your needs. If you have a baby or young children, you may need to arrange for someone to care for them while you attend classes or find a class with a creche.

Integration Loans

You are entitled to apply for an integration loan if you are 18 years of age or over. Integration loans have to be paid back but they are interest free. Loan applications can be made for items or activities that will help your integration into society. This could be help with housing, getting a job or education. Information on the loan and an application form can be found on at www.gov.uk/government/publications/application-for-an-integration-loan or you can request a form from the contact details provided in the accompanying paperwork with your decision letter.


  • You can access public services, work and claim benefits.
  • You should find out more about the rules around other family members being able to join you in the UK.
  • You will receive a biometric residence permit (BRP), which allows you to remain in the UK and find work – please keep this safe.
  • You should open a bank account as soon as possible to help manage your money.
  • Learning to speak English is very important and you should find out about the classes available in North Lincolnshire as soon as possible.
  • You can apply for an integration loan for items or activities that will help your integration into society.