The Frontier Worker Permit is for cross border workers who want to work in the UK but live in another country. Find out more about the requirements and application process.
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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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.