Help for non-native English speakers moving to the UK

If you are new to the UK, finding somewhere to live can be difficult – especially if you’re not a native English speaker. That’s why we’ve put together the following information, to help you get settled and live safely in your new home.

Finding a home

Your right to a home may depend on your immigration status. If you’re an asylum seeker, the government will provide you with accommodation.

If you have recently been told you have refugee status, you will have 28 days to find your own home. You can apply to your local council’s housing department to help you find somewhere to live.

If you have permission to be in the UK, for example you have ‘indefinite leave to remain’ or a work or student visa, you can also ask your local council for help with housing.

You can find your local council by putting in the postcode for where you currently live here

Or, you can rent somewhere private. If you rent privately, you will need to make sure you have the right documents to show you are allowed to be in the UK. That’s because any person who lets their home to you must collect this information.

You could also buy somewhere to live.

To find properties to rent or buy, it is easiest to look through property websites online, but you can also find a home by visiting an estate agent, looking at community noticeboards or searching for somewhere in your local newspaper.

You should always look at a property first before giving anyone any money.

For more information, see our checklist for moving into a new home.

Keeping your home secure

Once you have found somewhere to live, it’s important to make sure you and your loved ones stay safe.

Protect your home by making sure the frame of the door to your house or flat is strong and that your locks work well. Lock your windows and doors every time you leave your home and don’t leave valuable items where people outside can see them.

If you leave your home in the evening, maybe leave a light on so people think there is someone there. Always lock your windows and doors at night when you are sleeping.

A couple moving into their new home

Help if you experience hate crime

Sometimes you might have to deal with people who commit a crime against you because of your nationality, religion, colour of your skin or sexuality. This is known as ‘hate crime’.

It could be saying horrible things to you, bullying or threatening you, sending letters or text messages, making offensive phone calls or attacking you by hitting or pushing you.

You can phone the police on 999 or 112 to get help if you are a victim of hate crime. You can also call these numbers to get help if you have a fire at home or need an ambulance in a medical emergency.

Getting healthcare

To make sure you can get help if you become ill, you will need to register with a doctor (known as a GP or general practitioner) in your area. They might give you medication to take at home.

If the doctor can’t treat you, they might arrange for you to go to a hospital.

If you’re an asylum seeker, refugee or have permission to stay in the UK, you will be able to get free healthcare. But you might have to make an extra ‘healthcare surcharge’ payment if you have a work or student visa.

It’s important to take care of your mental health too – find out how to do that here.

Help with money

If you’re an asylum seeker, you will get a small amount of money for each person in your family to pay for food, clothing and other things you might need. You get extra money if you are pregnant and have children.

Once you have the right to stay in the UK, you might be able to get money from the government through something called ‘universal credit’ if you have no work, can’t work or if your pay is very low.

You might also get housing benefit, which can help you pay your rent. Or, if you are a refugee, you could apply for a refugee integration loan, which you will have to pay back, to help you settle in to your new life in the UK.

Woman sitting in an armchair smiling at her phone

Your National Insurance number

You will need a National Insurance number so tax can be recorded against your name. You will probably have to give this number to organisations like local councils, people you work for and banks. Find out more about getting a National Insurance number from the UK government’s website.

Where to get more help

There are many organisations in the UK that can offer immigration advice and support. They include: Citizens Advice, Red Cross and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.

If you’re a refugee, you can get help from the Refugee Council.

If you or your family members struggle to communicate in English, you can also sign up to the Priority Services Register to receive extra support at home.

Further reading

Additional support at home

Alongside reablement, staying independent is about having peace of mind that you’re not going to be left cold or in the dark if the heating or electricity fails.

The Priority Services Register (PSR) is an important, free support service which is designed to support those who need a little extra help in the event of interruptions to their gas, water or electricity supply. If you or someone you know has extra communication, access or safety needs, signing up to the PSR will help ensure you or they can access the best possible services at all times, and feel safe and independent at home. 

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