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Integration loans for refugees and others

If you are over 18 years of age and been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection after 11 June 2007 (or you are a dependant aged over 18 years of someone who has), you can apply for an integration loan to help you settle into life in the UK. The loans can be used to pay for housing costs, or to help you find a job.

What is an integration loan?

Integration loans are a means of support for certain categories of successful asylum seekers introduced on 11 June 2007. The loan is intended to help you start your new life in the UK.

Who can apply?

You can apply for a loan if:

  • you are over the age of 18, and
  • you have been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK as a refugee or with humanitarian protection after 11 June 2007, or
  • you have been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK because you are a dependant of someone who has been granted leave to remain in UK as a refugee or with humanitarian protection after 11 June 2007.

Who decides whether I get a loan?

The UK Border Agency, part of the Home Office, will decide whether or not you get a loan.

How is a decision made?

Whether or not you get a loan will depend on:

  • your financial situation - you won't get a loan unless the UK Border Agency believes you'll be able to pay it back
  • what you will be using the loan for
  • how long you have lived in the UK
  • how much money is available in the budget for the loans.

How much can I get?

You can apply for between £100 and £1,000. This will depend on your ability to repay the loan within the length of time you have been given leave to stay in the UK.

What can I use the loan for?

The loan is intended to help you settle into your new life, so can be used for costs related to finding a home and getting a job. For example, the money can be used to pay for:

  • a deposit or rent for a home
  • essential items for your home
  • moving costs
  • vocational training
  • work-related travel expenses
  • work clothes and shoes
  • tools or equipment you need for work
  • initial childcare costs while you're at work.
  • Financial support for training, education or work, including child care or living expenses, may already be available free of charge, or may affect entitlement to certain benefits and allowances you receive. You should therefore check with Jobcentre Plus first before taking out a loan for these items.

You'll have to explain what you want the money for when you apply, and you must use the loan for this purpose. You may need to provide proof that you have done so.

How do I apply?

You can download an application form and guidance from the UK Border Agency website. If you need help with the form, speak to an adviser at the Scottish Refugee Council or your local Citizens Advice. If you have a SUNRISE caseworker, they can help you with the form and add in comments to support your application.

How many loans can I have?

You will only be given one loan. However, if you're not happy with the loan offer made or your application for a loan is rejected or refused, you may reapply providing you are still eligible.

Can I apply for a joint loan?

You can apply for a joint loan with your partner if you are both eligible and will both benefit from the loan. The maximum amount you can apply for is still £1,000. If your application is successful, you'll both be responsible for paying back the whole loan.

What happens after I apply?

Once your application has been assessed, you'll be sent a letter telling you whether or not you've been granted a loan and, if so, how much it will be. If you're awarded a loan, you'll need to sign a loan agreement, which sets out the conditions of the loan and the repayment terms. The Department for Work and Pensions will be responsible for paying you the loan. They will contact you shortly before payment of the loan is made.

Do I have to pay interest on the loan?

No, integration loans are interest-free.

When will I have to pay the loan back?

Depending on your situation, you'll probably need to start paying the loan back six weeks after you receive it. If you're claiming benefits, the repayments will be taken out of your benefit money by the Department for Work and Pensions. If you are not on benefit, the Department for Work and Pensions will contact you to make repayment arrangements. The repayment terms will be set out in the loan agreement.

For more information on integration loans, please see the UK Border Agency website.

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The important points

  • Integration loans are interest-free loans for asylum seekers who have been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection after 11 June 2007.
  • These loans are intended to help you settle into life in the UK, for example to pay a deposit on a flat or pay for tools or equipment you need for work.
  • The UK Border Agency decides if you can get a loan, taking into account several factors, including how you'll pay it back and what you'll use the loan for.
  • If you're eligible you can apply for a loan between £100 and £1000 - you can only have one loan and will probably need to start paying it back within six weeks.

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