A frontier worker permit is a new visa for EEA Nationals

New visa for EEA Nationals from 1st January 2021 - a frontier worker permit.

New visa for EEA Nationals from 1st January 2021 – a frontier worker permit.

Frontier workers live primarily in one country but work in another. EU laws allowed millions of EEA Nationals to develop and flourish within the EU. Therefore, most frontier workers who travel to the United Kingdom to work will be left in a precarious position from 1st January 2021.

Many frontier workers who wish to stay in the UK will apply under the EU Settlement Scheme to secure long-term status. Some of them will get an intra-company transfer visa. Workers who are not eligible for these schemes can apply for the frontier worker permit.

Eligibility rules

To get a permit, a frontier worker is someone who can meet the following requirements before 31st December 2020 and has continued to meet them since they are an EEA or Swiss national, not primarily resident in the United Kingdom, and they are one of the following:

  1. a worker in the United Kingdom
  2. a self-employed person in the United Kingdom
  3. a person who has retained the status of being self-employed/a worker under new regulations

The frontier worker permit will be available to applicants who started working in the UK before 31st December 2020 and continue in this working pattern until they apply. There is no deadline for applying.

“Not primarily resident.”

The applicant will be considered as “not primarily resident” in the UK if, at a “particular point in time”, they can satisfy one of the following criteria:

  • They have been present in the United Kingdom for less than 180 days in the 12 months immediately before the relevant day.
  • They have travelled to their country of residence at least once in the last six months or twice in the previous 12 months before the relevant day unless there are exceptional reasons for not doing so.

Most employers will want to prioritise employees with immigration statuses which can lead to UK settlement in the longer term. However, the frontier worker permit will be helpful for employees who frequently travel. It may allow employers to retain skilled, mobile talent in and out of the UK.

The frontier worker permit will be a great option to retain a UK immigration status for migrants who cannot meet the application requirements for settled status under the EU Settlement scheme.

Irish citizens do not need to do anything to continue working in the United Kingdom from 1st January 2021.

Retaining the status of a frontier worker

In case an employee has previously been a frontier worker, they will be able to retain their status by applying for a permit if one of the following criteria applies to their situation:

  • Applicants are temporarily unable to work because of an illness or an accident;
  • they were working in the United Kingdom but are now involuntary unemployed and are currently seeking employment in the United Kingdom;
  • applicants are in vocational training whilst unemployed, and the training is related to previous employment;
  • they are temporarily unable to work as a result of pregnancy or childbirth; or
  • applicants are on maternity or paternity leave, and they will return to their previous employment or find another job after the end of the leave

The application process for a frontier worker permit

The application will be free of charge. The successful applicants will receive an electronic status rather than a physical card.

The Home Office will open the application process after the implementation period. However, the prospective frontier workers will not need a permit to enter the United Kingdom until 30th June 2021. They will have the six months grace period between January and June 2021 to apply.

Successful applications

The frontier worker permit will be valid for five years if the Home Office approves the application. However, the self-employed and workers with retained frontier worker status permits will be valid for two years.

The permit will not lead to indefinite leave to remain (settlement) in the UK.

Some migrants will not start work in the United Kingdom until on or after 1st January 2021. They will not be able to apply for frontier worker permits. The work permits under one of the routes in the new immigration system will be available to them.


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