Tips for supporting HC2 applications for asylum seekers

1. Context and objective

This document was developed by a national working group that was created to improve the process of issuing HC2 certificates to asylum seekers. The group was represented by the Home Office, Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, NHS England and Improvement, Doctors of the World, Primary Care (Bevan Healthcare), NHS Business Services Authority (BSA) and the town of Sanctuary.

This advice is intended for professionals who support asylum seekers in accessing healthcare and prescriptions. No organization is mandated to specifically help asylum seekers complete the HC1 forms, however, support is often needed, and this document has been produced to assist the professionals who provide it.

For more information, please contact:

NHS Business Service Authority by phone on 0300 330 1343, or via the online form.

Migrant Helpline: 0808 8010 503

An HC2 certificate entitles you to free NHS prescriptions, dental care, wigs and cloth support, vision tests, vouchers for the cost of glasses or contact lenses and fees travel required to and from hospital for NHS treatment under the care of a consultant.

It is normal in the UK that people under 60 (due to the move to those under 66) have to pay for prescriptions, eye exams and dental treatment. However, those with little or no income can apply for an HC2 certificate by completing an HC1 form. Anyone, regardless of immigration status, can apply.

2. Asylum seekers and access to the HC2 certificate

Asylum seekers receiving Section 95 assistance will automatically receive an HC2 certificate and will not need to apply. Once they have received their Section 95 grant letter from the Home Office, the information will be sent to the NHS and they should receive their HC2 certificate within 21 days. If they haven’t received it by then, they can contact the Migrant Help helpline to have it followed up.

Those receiving Section 98 or 4 assistance will need to complete an HC1 form. However, those receiving Section 98 assistance should be encouraged to apply for asylum assistance as soon as possible because, if granted (this will be assessed by the Ministry of Interior within 10 days of receipt of the request), they will automatically receive their HC2 Certificate within 21 days.

If there is a delay in applying for asylum assistance and they need to apply for an HC2 certificate, or if the person is receiving Section 4 assistance, this can be done using a HC1 form online or on paper (it is recommended to do it online when possible).

The HC1 form is accessible in 2 ways:

  1. Online HC1 form (please note that for couples applying together they will need to complete a paper form. 16 and 17 year olds who are dependent and not living alone should already be covered under the fact that their parent or guardian has an HC2, if they are not they will need to apply for one (please note however that they cannot be named on one as children are not named on the certificates but they are If there are any issues regarding the penalties as a result, they can have them waived via the BSA)

  2. HC1 paper forms – paper forms can be ordered here

NHS BSA has interpreters who can facilitate the conversation between the caller and the NHS BSA adviser. More information about the interpreters

2.1 Notes for completing the online form

  • it’s faster and easier to fill out than the paper form
  • for the question asking if the individual is supported by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), if you tick “yes” it will indicate that this form is not appropriate as it considers all persons supported by UKVI fall under Section 95 and should have an HC2 certificate issued automatically. Tick ​​“no” to this section if the person falls under section 98 or section 4

2.2 Notes for completing the paper form

  • complete each section of this form and use an interpreter with the person if necessary
  • if they live in a hotel/hostel for part 3.1 you can tick “no” that no one else lives in their house as they are not related to other residents
  • the majority of the form is the “yes/no” checkbox. Section 9 at the end asks you to explain how the person is supported. In this section you will need to explain how the person receives food, clothing, toiletries, phone credit and transportation.

For the majority of asylum seekers, this section is straightforward. Ideally, if they can write in English, they should write it themselves, but if they can’t, you may need to write the following for them:

“I am an asylum seeker living in home office accommodation and depend on the home office for all my needs. I do not receive support under Article 95”.

  • the form is signed on the back by the person
  • any proof of income must be included and the package must be taken to a post office to be weighed and postage appropriately. If the form is posted without postage, it can still be received by the BSA, but this may cause delays in application

Once the forms are completed and submitted, it may take 4-6 weeks for the application to be processed and the HC2 certificate to be issued and mailed to the address indicated on the application form.

3. If treatment is required before receiving an HC2 certificate

If the person claiming asylum needs a prescription or urgent dental treatment, NHS Business Services can be contacted on 0300 330 1343. If the claim has been processed, a certificate number will then be available which the user of the service will be able to use to obtain a free prescription or dental care before having the paper certificate. This must be done by the service user himself for privacy reasons.

If a request has not been made for an HC2 or if a request has not been received and the service user checks the “L” box on the back of the prescription (HC2 Full Assistance Certificate), he cannot be refused the service/medication by the provider (eg pharmacy or dental practice). It is up to the NHS BSA to decide whether or not this should be investigated.

4. Renewal of an HC2 certificate

HC2 certificates for asylum seekers normally last 6 months (the expiry date is on the certificate) and a new application will have to be made at this stage by completing another HC1 form before this date, unless they receive the 95 as these will be sent automatically.

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