Frontier Worker Permit

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Frontier Worker Permit

A Frontier Worker Permit enables citizens of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein to work in the UK as an employed or self-employed person whilst being primarily resident outside the UK.

Irish citizens are exempt from the requirement of applying for a Frontier Worker Permit but they can acquire Frontier Worker Permits if they choose to do so.

From 01 July 2021, it will be mandatory requirement, for those considered be Frontier Workers, to hold a Frontier Worker Permit when entering the UK as a Frontier Worker.

Requirements for a Frontier Worker Permit

In order to qualify for a Frontier Worker Permit you must demonstrate to the UK Visas and Immigration that you were, immediately before the end of the transition period (11pm GMT on 31 December 2020), and have been continuously since 11pm GMT on 31 December 2020:

  • a European Economic Area (EEA) citizen;
  • not primarily resident in the UK;
  • considered to be an employed or self-employer person in the UK or you are a retained worker or self-employed person in the UK.

The specific requirements you need to satisfy to qualify for a Frontier Worker Permit may vary depending on your circumstances. You may wish to speak to an expert immigration lawyer for specific advice.

To discuss your Frontier Worker Permit application with one of our expert immigration lawyers, please complete our “Enquiry Form”.

Not Primarily Resident in the UK

In order to qualify for a Frontier Worker Permit, you must demonstrate to the UK Visas and Immigration that you were not primarily resident in the UK immediately before 11pm GMT on 31 December 2020, and that you continued to be resident outside the UK thereafter.

You will be considered as not being primarily resident in the UK at any particular time if:

  • You have spent less than 180 days in the UK in the 12 months period prior to the date your application for a Frontier Worker Permit is considered;
  • You have spent more than 180 days in the UK in the 12 months period prior to the date your application for a Frontier Worker Permit is considered and, you have returned to your country of primary residence at least once in the 6 months period prior to the date your application is considered and twice in the 12 months period prior to the date your application is considered;
  • You have spent more than 180 days in the UK in the 12 months period prior to the date your application for a Frontier Worker Permit is considered and, there are exceptional reasons for your not having visited your country of residence once in the 6 months period prior to the date your application is considered and twice in the 12 months period prior to the date your application is considered.

Proof of Primary Residence

If you have spent more than 180 days outside the UK you will be required by the UK Visas and Immigration to provide evidence of your travels outside the UK during the 12 months period prior to the date your application is considered.

You will also need to provide evidence that the country you travelled to, during the 12 months period prior to the date of your application being considered, is indeed your country of primary residence by showing proof of address in that country. The UK Visas and Immigration may accept a simple declaration regarding your non-UK residence as proof of your residence outside the UK. However, where the UK Visas and Immigration has concerns that your declaration may not be genuine, they may make further enquiries prior to reaching a decision on your application.

Your non-UK resident address does not need to be in one of the 27 EU member states as the Frontier Worker Visa route permits non-UK residence to be anywhere outside the UK.

Exceptional reasons for not meeting the travel requirement

In order to be granted exemption from meeting the travel requirements of an application for Frontier Worker Permit you must satisfy the UK Visas and Immigration that there were circumstances beyond your control that prevented you from travelling to your country of primary residence during the relevant 12 months period. The UK Visas and Immigration may also accept evidence of other compelling practical and compassionate reasons as to why you were unable to travel to your country of primary residence during the relevant 12 months period.

Examples of circumstances that could be considered as exceptional may include the following:

  • Illness or accident (including COVID 19 related illness);
  • Inability to travel arising from COVID 19 travel restrictions;
  • Becoming a Frontier Worker just before 31 December 2020 and not having been able to travel to country of primary residency before submitting the application;
  • Being prevented from travelling during the relevant 12 months period due to childbirth or pregnancy.

The above is not an exhaustive list and the UK Visas and Immigration will take any set of circumstances, which prevented you from traveling during the relevant 12 months period, into account when considering your application.

Assessing worker or self-employed status

In order to be considered as a Frontier Worker, you must satisfy the UK Visas and Immigration that you engaged in work as a worker or self-employed person in the UK on at least once occasion before 31 December 2020.

In order to maintain your Frontier Worker status, you must demonstrate that you have continued to come to the UK to engage in work or self-employment on at least one occasion in any 12 months period. The 12 months period can be counted from the date of the first instance of engagement in work or self-employment in the UK in 2020.

You must also satisfy the UK Visas and Immigration that the work or self-employed activity you engage in is genuine and effective, and not marginal or ancillary to your lifestyle whilst you are in the UK.

If you have not been engaged in economic activity as a worker or self-employed person in the UK for a period of 12 months or more since 01 January 2020, the UK Visas and Immigration may still grant you a Frontier Worker Permit on the basis of your having retained your status as a worker or self-employed person.

Following the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) judgment in Gusa C442/16 a self-employed person is able to retain their status as a self-employed person in a similar way to a person retaining status after a period of employment.

You may be able to retain your status as a worker or self-employed person if you can demonstrate to the UK Visas and Immigration that you have become unemployed within 12 months of your last period of work in the UK for one of the following reasons:

  • You are temporarily unable to engage in work as a result of illness or accident;
  • You are in duly recorded involuntary unemployment;
  • You voluntarily ceased work in the UK to commence vocational training related to your previous work;
  • You are temporarily unable to work because of pregnancy or childbirth.

You may be able to retain your status as a worker or self-employed person in the UK after the initial 12 month period provided that you continue to look for work or self-employment in the UK and register yourself as a jobseeker with the jobcentre or a recruitment agency. However, if you fail to register yourself as a jobseeker or engage in work or self-employment in the UK after the initial 12 month period, then you will lose your retained status as a worker or self-employed person.

Rights of Frontier Workers

As a Frontier Worker you will have access to healthcare, benefits, housing and other services in line with the rules in place before the UK left the EU, for as long as you remain a Frontier Worker. In essence, as a Frontier Worker you will have the same rights as other UK workers in matters of housing, healthcare, benefits and other services.

Validity Period of Frontier Worker Permits

If you are successful in your application for a Frontier Worker Permit, you will be granted a permit which will be valid for:

  • 5 years if you meet the eligibility criteria as a current frontier worker;
  • 2 years if you meet the eligibility criteria as a someone with retained worker status

Frontier workers can apply to renew their permit for as long as they continue to be frontier workers in the UK.

Frontier Worker Permit Route and ILR

The Frontier Worker Permit does not lead to the grant of settlement or permanent residence in the UK. You may, however, be able to settlement in the UK by making an application for Pre-settled status or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. If you wish to engage in full time work in the UK you may also wish to consider applying for leave to enter or remain under the Skilled Worker category.

Family members of frontier workers

The Frontier Worker Visa route does not permit dependent family members to join the Frontier Worker in the UK. Family members of Frontier Workers may be able to join them in the UK by applying for an EU Settlement Scheme Family Permit under Appendix EU (Family Permit) to the Immigration Rules (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/appendix-eu-family-permit).  They may also be eligible to apply for pre-settled or settled status under EU settlement scheme.

How our lawyers can help you with your Frontier Worker Permit Application

Our lawyers are specialists in UK immigration law with almost a decade of experience. We have assisted many Frontier Worker Permit applicants to prepare and submit successful Frontier Worker Permit applications.

Our immigration lawyers can provide you expert advice on meeting the requirements of the Immigration Rules, carry out a detailed assessment of your prospects of qualifying for a Frontier worker Permit and can assist you with the preparation and submission of your immigration application.

Our lawyers combine creative energy with deep technical legal expertise to uncover innovative, out-of-the-box and unconventional strategies that help you succeed in your application even when you’re facing inherent challenges in meeting the requirements of a Frontier Worker Permit.

We do this by deploying the following:

  • Taking a holistic approach to analysing every facet of each case and formulating strategies to comprehensively address every element of the case;
  • Bringing deep technical and substantive legal expertise;
  • Collaborative strategizing among specialist lawyers, who operate at different levels of seniority, bringing a wealth of technical expertise, tactical know-how and diversity of perspective on your matter;
  • Using Design Thinking to reframe the challenges you face with a view to redefining value and opening up the scope of solutions;
  • Designing customised strategy to meet your specific challenges.

What this means for you?

If you instruct us to take on your case, our scope of work will comprise of the following:

  • Taking detailed instructions to carry out a thorough analysis of your case;
  • Assessing your eligibility for a Frontier Worker Permit in line with the requirements as set out in the Immigration Rules, the accompanying Policy Documents and the wider case-law jurisprudence;
  • Notifying you of the strengths and weaknesses of your case;
  • Advising you on strategies, where possible, to remedy the weaknesses in your case and better evidence the strengths of your case;
  • Providing you detailed and customised advice on the documents you need to provide in support of your application;
  • Reviewing your documents to assess whether they meet the evidential requirements of your application and to advise you if further documents are required;
  • Drafting the application form to provide to you for review and, if required, amending the application in line with your observations;
  • Preparing a detailed letter of representations to be submitted in support of your application;
  • Submitting the application form online and arranging an appointment for the enrolment of your biometrics;
  • Responding to any queries from the Home Office regarding your application
  • Addressing any queries that you may have regarding your application and any issues arising relating to your immigration status;
  • Corresponding with the UK Visas and Immigration (Home Office) to ensure a timely decision on your application.
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