Changes to the benefits system for EEA nationals article banner image

The Prime Minister announced in a speech on the Tuesday 29th July that, amongst other changes, there will be new rules imposed to make alterations to the way that European Migrants can claim certain benefits.

As it stands 30 EEA countries (and Switzerland) have arrangements with the UK to be able to apply for certain means tested benefits and specifically Job Seekers Allowance.  To be eligible for Job Seekers Allowance, the EEA National will need to meet what is known as a Habitual Residence Test and will need to show a) that they have a legal right to live in the UK (right to reside)  and b) that they intend to settle in the Common Travel Area (habitual residence).

As of January this year, in order to claim Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), the EEA national must have resided in the UK for at least three months (bar exceptional circumstances).

Further if granted JSA the EEA national will only be able to claim those benefits for a period of six months either consecutively or in total whilst residing in the UK (unless there are very clear job prospects for the EEA National).

As of November this year David Cameron has announced that the period an EEA national can claim JSA for will not exceed three months (without clear job prospects), a significant reduction from the six months currently allowed.

Jo Cassidy is a Paralegal in the Exeter Employment and Immigration Team. She specialises in immigration and nationality issues. To contact Jo about this or any related issue please call 01392 210700 or email