What is the Frontier Worker Permit?
The Frontier Worker Permit is a permit that allows cross border workers to work in the UK whilst living in the EU.
A frontier worker is someone who works in one country whilst living in another. This form of working is popular in the EU because of the ability to move freely between the member states. However, due to Brexit free movement between the UK and EU ended on 31st December 2020. EU citizens living in the UK prior to the end of free movement could apply for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, this has allowed them to continue living and working here. Because frontier workers do not live in the UK, they were ineligible for this scheme, however, the rights of frontier workers are protected by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
The Frontier Worker Permit was created to uphold the protected rights of frontier workers in the UK. It allows EU citizens who were already engaged in cross border work in the UK before the end of free movement to continue working here.
Who is the Frontier Worker Permit for?
The Frontier Worker permit is for cross border workers who work in the UK. You could be eligible for the Frontier Worker Permit if you live in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and you started working in the UK prior to the end of free movement on 31st December 2020.
You will need to prove that you are primarily resident outside of the UK in order to obtain this permit, this means that you should not have spent more than 180 days in the UK over the course of any 12 month period. If you have spent over 180 days in the UK then you could still be eligible providing you returned to your home country either once every 6 months or twice in the 12 month period.
To qualify for this permit, you also usually need to have worked in the UK at least once every 12 months since you began working here. You could still be eligible for the Frontier Worker Permit Scheme if you have had periods of unemployment if you meet the requirements for retained frontier worker status.
Irish citizens do not need a Frontier Worker Permit and can continue to work in the UK whilst living in Ireland. EU citizens who started frontier working in the UK after 31st December 2020 are not eligible for the permit and must apply for a relevant visa, such as the Skilled Worker Visa if they wish to continue working in the UK.
What is retained frontier worker status?
If you have been unable to work or unemployed in the UK during a 12 month period you could still be eligible for the Frontier Worker Permit if you have retained frontier worker status.
You may have retained frontier worker status if any of the following applies to your situation:
- You were temporarily unable to work due to an illness or accident
- You were temporarily unable to work due to pregnancy
- You were unable to travel to the UK due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- You were voluntarily unemployed and participating in vocational training that was related to your previous job
- You were involuntarily unemployed but were looking for work in the UK or participating in vocational training
Individuals with retained frontier worker status who were unemployed involuntarily will only keep their retained 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 before becoming unemployed then their retained worker status will last as long as they continue to look for work.
If you are an involuntarily unemployed retained worker, you will need to provide evidence that you are looking for work when you apply for a Frontier Worker Permit, to do this you will need to be registered as a job seeker.
How to apply for a Frontier Worker Permit
You must make your application for a Frontier Worker Permit online at the gov.uk website. To apply, you will need to complete the application form and you will also need to prove your identity. You can prove your identity either online using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app and scanning in your identity documents or by having your biometric information (photograph and fingerprints) taken at a visa application centre.
When you apply you will need a valid passport or national identity card. You will also need to provide supporting documents but these will vary depending on whether you are employed or self-employed. You may be required to provide documents such as employment contracts, payslips and invoices.
After you have applied, you will receive a notice to inform you about whether your application has been approved or not. If it has been approved you will be issued your permit either digitally if using the app or physically if you did not use the app. Your permit will be valid for 5 years, or 2 years if you have retained status. When travelling to the UK for work you will need to bring a valid passport or national identity card and your Frontier Worker Permit, you may need to show this at the border to prove your right to work here.
What can you do as a frontier worker?
Being a Frontier Worker Permit holder comes with several benefits. Firstly, Frontier Worker Permit holders are granted the freedom to be able to live in the EU whilst being able to continue to work in the UK.
As well as this, frontier workers rights in the UK also include the right to rent and the right to access benefits if you meet the eligibility requirements. If you hold a valid Frontier Worker Permit then you will also be able to use NHS services whilst in the UK and you will not be required to pay the immigration health surcharge to do this like most other immigrants.
It’s worth noting that there are some restrictions that come with the Frontier Worker Permit and you must abide by the relevant immigration rules. This permit does not allow you to make the UK your permanent home, your primary residence must remain outside of the UK. You also cannot bring family members with you to the UK with a Frontier Worker Permit, if your family members wish to come to the UK they will need to apply for a visa themselves.
How can London Immigration Lawyers help?
The end of the Brexit transition period and the introduction of the UK’s new points-based immigration system and other immigration rules has left many EU and EEA citizens confused about their immigration rights in the UK.
Our immigration lawyers are here to help existing frontier workers with their permit applications. If you are a cross border worker our team of immigration experts can assess whether you are eligible for the new Frontier Worker Permit and can help you to apply. Our lawyers will be there to support you throughout the entire process, from filling in the application form to helping you to gather all of the documents that you will require. We will make sure that your application is completed to the highest standard.
For more information about the services that our London Immigration Lawyers can offer, get in touch today by calling 020 4502 8582.
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There is no fee to apply for a Frontier Worker Permit. The only cost associated with the application process is if you are required to have your biometric information collected, this will cost £19.20.
Yes, you can be eligible for a Frontier Worker Permit if you are unemployed providing that you have retained worker status.
You could be eligible for this status if you were unable to work due to an illness, accident or COVID-19 travel restrictions. Or if you are unemployed but looking for work or doing vocational training.
If your application is successful you will be sent a notification saying that your application has been approved. If you applied using the UK Immigration: ID Check app then you will be issued a digital permit straight away. If you did not use the app then you will be sent a physical, you will usually receive this within 10 days.