Registered charity numbers: Migrant Helpline: 1088631 Refugee Action: 283660 Refugee Arrivals Project: 1013556
Refugee Council: 1014576 Scottish Refugee Council: SCO08639 Welsh Refugee Council: 1044885
Applying for asylum support
Most asylum seekers are not allowed to work. Under exceptional circumstances you may be
entitled to work but you would need to seek advice about this.
As the asylum process can be long, you may need to think about how you will support
yourself. You may be eligible to apply for support from the National Asylum Support Service
(NASS). NASS is the government department responsible for supporting destitute asylum
seekers. NASS can provide both accommodation and cash support for food and clothing. If
you have accommodation, for example with friends or relatives, you can apply for cash
support only. Cash support is also called ‘subsistence support’.
If you are unable to support yourself, you can apply for NASS support at any time during the
asylum process. If you are under 18, and are applying for asylum on your own, you will get
support from your local authority, not NASS.
Who is eligible for support from NASS?
You may need both accommodation and cash support, or you may only need cash support. In
either case, you will have to prove to NASS several things:
that you have applied for asylum;
that you are destitute (meaning you have very little or no money);
that you have applied for asylum ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’ after arriving in
What does the ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’ test mean?
This test applies to people who apply for cash support only. When considering your application
for cash support (even if you previously were receiving accommodation and cash support and
now wish to change to cash support only) NASS will consider the following:
whether you have applied for asylum within three days of arrival;
whether the account given by you abou