Frontier Worker Permit Scheme: New Guidance
On 1 January 2021, the UK’s new points-based immigration system will come into effect. The new immigration system will introduce some important changes that Frontier Workers need to be aware of and plan for, including a new Frontier Worker Permit Scheme.
Who is a Frontier Worker?
If you are an EU, EEA, or Swiss Citizen, employed or self-employed in the UK, but not primarily resident in the UK, then you are a Frontier Worker (also known as a cross-border commuter).
You will be considered not primarily resident in the UK if at a particular point in time you can demonstrate either:
- That you have been present in the UK for less than 180 days in the 12 months prior to making an application; or
- You have returned to your country of residence at least once in the last 6 months, or twice in the last 12 months before making an application, unless there are exceptional reasons for not having done so
Frontier Worker Permit Scheme
On 10 December 2020, the Government will launch the Frontier Worker Permit Scheme. If you are working in the UK before 31 December 2020, with Frontier Worker Status, you will be able to apply for a Frontier Worker Permit.
Applications will be free, and you will be able to apply online from either inside or outside of the UK.
Frontier Workers working in the UK Before 1 January 2021
If you are an EU, EEA, or Swiss Citizen and are a Frontier Worker working in the UK by 31 December 2020 then you may apply for a Frontier Worker Permit from 10 December 2020.
You will be able to continue entering the UK as a Frontier Worker using just your valid passport or national identity card until 30 June 2021.
However, from 1 July 2021, you will only be able to enter the UK as a Frontier Worker if you can produce a valid Frontier Worker Permit, together with your valid passport or national identity card.
If you are no longer a Frontier Worker, but previously were, you will be able to retain your Frontier Worker Permit for a period of 2 years (or 6 months if you have stopped working due to unemployment after working in the UK for less than a year) if any one of the following applies:
- You are temporarily unable to work due to illness or an accident;
- You were working in the UK but are now involuntary unemployed, and are currently seeking employment in the UK;
- You are currently in vocational training whilst unemployed, and the training is related to previous employment;
- You are temporarily unable to work due to pregnancy or recent childbirth; or
- You are on maternity or paternity leave, and you will return to previous employment or find another job after such leave.
If you are an Irish Citizen, you will not need to apply for a Frontier Worker Permit, but may do so, if you wish.
If you make a successful application for a Frontier Worker Permit
If your application for a Frontier Worker Permit is approved and you are an employed worker then your permit will be valid for 5 years.
If you are self-employed or you have retained Frontier Worker status then your permit will be valid for 2 years.
Whilst Frontier Worker Permits will confer a right of admission to the UK, they will not provide leave to enter or remain in the UK.
Your Frontier Worker Permit can be renewed, but obtaining a permit under this route will not lead to settlement in the UK.
If you wish to pursue settlement or long-term status in the UK, you should consider making an application for pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, or leave to enter or remain under the new Skilled Worker route.
Frontier Workers working in the UK From 1 January 2021
If you are non-British or non-Irish, and you intend to begin employment in the UK whilst residing outside of the UK, but do not start working until, on, or after 1 January 2021, then you will not be eligible for a Frontier Worker Permit. You will instead need to apply to enter the UK under a different work route under the new points-based immigration system, including via the new Skilled Worker route.
Contact our Immigration Barristers
For expert advice and assistance regarding the rights of cross-border workers, applying for a Frontier Worker Permit or applying for a Skilled Worker visa, contact our business immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.