- What is the Frontier Worker Permit?
- Who is eligible for frontier worker status?
- Can I apply for the Frontier Worker Permit Scheme if I am unemployed?
- How do I become a frontier worker?
- Do I need to apply for a frontier permit to work in the UK?
- What can frontier workers do?
- How can IAS help?
- Frequently asked questions
What is the Frontier Worker Permit?
The Frontier Worker Permit is a new type of visa that opened in December 2020. The work permit was designed to cater to the needs of EU citizens following the end of Free Movement in December 2020. Frontier Workers are people who work in one country and live in another, freedom of movement in the EU meant that this type of lifestyle became very popular. However, following the UK’s departure from the EU and the end of the Brexit transition period, EU citizens can no longer move freely between the UK and countries in the European Union.
The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement requires the UK government to ensure that frontier workers who were working in the UK prior to the 31st December 2020 retain their free movement rights. As a result, the new Frontier Worker Permit was created.
The Frontier Worker Permits allow people from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein to enter the UK to work. The permit will normally last for 5 years.
Who is eligible for frontier worker status?
Only nationals from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein can apply for the Frontier Worker Permit Scheme. As well as this, you must be classed as primarily resident outside the UK. You can meet the primary residence requirement if you have spent less than a total of 180 days in the UK over any 12 month period. If you have spent over 180 days in the UK in 12 months then you can still be eligible if you have returned to your home country at least either once every 6 months or twice in the 12 month period.
Applicants for the Frontier Worker Permit Scheme will also need to meet the requirements for working in the UK. The working requirements are as follows:
- You must have started working in the UK whilst living in another country by 31st December 2020.
- The type of work that you do must be eligible for the permit.
- You usually must have worked in the UK at least once every 12 months since you started working here.
Eligible work includes both employed and self-employed work, to be classed as eligible your work in the UK must be “genuine and effective”, which means that it must be more substantial than one-off tasks. Eligible work does not include things like attending interviews, signing a contract or taking part in a one-off competition.
Can I apply for the Frontier Worker Permit Scheme if I am unemployed?
If you have been unable to work or unemployed in the UK during a 12 month period then you may still be eligible for a Frontier Worker Permit if you have retained frontier worker status. You can retain your frontier worker status if you have not worked during a 12 month period for one of the following reasons:
- You were temporarily unable to work because of an illness or accident
- You were temporarily unable to work because you were pregnant or had given birth
- You were unable to come to the UK and work because of the COVID-19 pandemic
- You were voluntarily unemployed and undertaking vocational training that related to your last job
- You were involuntarily unemployed and were actively looking for work in the UK or participating in vocational training
Those who are involuntarily unemployed and are looking for work can only retain their frontier worker status for 6 months if they worked in the UK for less than a year before becoming unemployed. If they worked in the UK for more than a year then they can retain their status for as long as they continue to look for work, however, they must be registered as a jobseeker and be able to show evidence that they are looking for work.
How do I become a frontier worker?
To obtain a Frontier Worker Permit you must apply online using the form available on the gov.uk website.
When making your application you will need a valid passport or a national identity card. As well as this you will be required to submit some supporting documents. The documents that you need will vary depending on your circumstances, such as whether you are employed or self-employed. The documents you may need could include your employment contract, payslips or copies of invoices for work carried out in the UK. You will be informed about the documents you will need at the time of your application.
As well as filling in the application form and submitting your supporting documents, you will also need to prove your identity as part of the Frontier Worker Permit application process. You can prove your identity using the UK Immigration: ID Check app, you will need to create an account and scan your identity document on the app to do this.
If you do not have a smartphone or cannot use the app then you may need to attend an appointment to prove your identity. If you’re applying from outside the UK then you will need to go to a Visa Application Centre to have your photograph and fingerprints taken. If you are applying from inside the UK then you will need to have your photo taken at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point.
If you are applying as a frontier worker with retained status then you will also be required to submit evidence that you qualify for retained status, this could include doctors letters if you have an illness or copies of job applications if you are seeking employment.
If your application is successful you will be sent a notice to say that your application is approved. If you have used the app when applying then you will be issued a digital permit. Applicants who did not use the app will be sent a physical permit if they are in the UK or will receive an email informing them that they can collect their permit once in the UK if they applied from another country.
Do I need to apply for the Frontier Worker Permit to work in the UK?
Before applying for a Frontier Worker Permit, it’s important to consider the other immigration options that you may have. When it comes to working in the UK, the Frontier Worker Permit is not the only route open to EU and EEA citizens and you may be eligible for other routes that come with more benefits.
If you have obtained pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme then you do not need to apply for a Frontier Worker Permit to work in the UK, your immigration status will already grant you the right to work here.
If you do not have a form of settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme then there may be other UK visas more suitable to you. The UK operates a points-based immigration system and there are a number of different work visas under this system, they include the Skilled Worker Visa, Temporary Worker Visa and other occupation-based visas. Unlike the Frontier Work Permit, many of the UK work visas can be used as a route towards Indefinite Leave to Remain, so if you want to make the UK your permanent home then applying for a work visa may be a better option for you.
What can frontier workers do?
Frontier Worker Permit holders can enter the UK to work as either an employed person or a self-employed person. They can do any work that can be considered as “genuine and effective”.
As well as being able to work, frontier workers rights also include the ability to rent property and access benefits if they meet the particular eligibility requirements. Frontier Workers can also access NHS healthcare and are not required to pay the immigration health surcharge to do so.
Your family members can also join you in the UK but they will not be included in your permit, instead, each family member must apply individually for an EU Settlement Scheme family permit.
How can IAS help?
The end of the Brexit transition period and free movement between the UK and EU has meant that the UK immigration rules have changed considerably. This has created complications for many EU and EEA citizens including disruption to their working pattern as well as uncertainty about their futures. Our expert immigration lawyers are here to help. All of our lawyers are knowledgeable about the latest changes to UK immigration law and they can help you to navigate the post-Brexit UK immigration system.
If you are an EU or EEA citizen who was working in the UK prior to the end of free movement, then our lawyers can help you to apply for a Frontier Worker Permit so that you can continue to work here. If you are unsure about whether you are eligible for this permit, or whether there are better immigration routes available to you, our lawyers can offer professional immigration advice that you can trust.
For more information about the services that we offer, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team today on 0333 305 9375.
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Frontier Working is when you are primarily resident in one country whilst working in another. You can be considered a frontier worker if you are an employed worker or a self-employed person.
Frontier workers applying for a permit in the UK must be able to prove that they are primarily resident in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein. The type of work you must do must also be “genuine and effective”, this is a broad definition that covers a range of roles.
Cross border workers will usually need to pay tax on their UK income but you may also be taxed on your UK income in the country that you are primarily resident in. If the country you reside in has a double taxation agreement with the UK then you can claim tax relief in the UK which means that you won’t have to pay tax twice.
Frontier workers who live abroad but work in the UK have their taxes automatically calculated on the days that they work in the UK. If you are self-employed then you will need to report your income to HM Revenue and Customs by submitting a Self Assessment tax return.
If you are a cross border worker then you could be eligible for a frontier working permit, however, there are many other UK visa routes that can be used to work in the United Kingdom. To be eligible for a work permit such as the popular Skilled Worker Visa you will need to have a job offer from a UK employer authorised to sponsor overseas nationals. You will also need to meet the minimum salary requirement and be able to demonstrate a knowledge of the English language. The Skilled Worker Visa may be more suitable for you if you plan to be resident in the UK, this visa allows you to live and work in the UK for up to 5 years and can also be used as a route towards permanent settlement in the UK.