What is a Frontier Worker Permit?
A Frontier Worker permit allows citizens from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein to work in the UK while living in their respective country. This permit was established to protect the jobs of nationals from the aforementioned countries who had been working in the UK under freedom of movement before the UK left the EU.
Who is eligible for a Frontier Worker permit?
You will be eligible to apply for a Frontier Worker permit if you:
- Are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
- Live outside the UK
- Started working in the UK on or before 31 December 2020 and continue to work here.
However, it is important to note that your eligibility may be affected if you:
- Have experienced periods of unemployment in the UK
- Are unemployed when applying for the Frontier Worker permit.
What are the job requirements for a Frontier Worker permit?
In order to qualify for the Frontier Worker permit, you must have:
- Started working in the UK while living elsewhere on or before 31 December 2020 as an employed or self-employed person
- Continued to be an employed or self-employed person in the UK and have come to the UK to work at least once every 12 months since then, or meet the requirements to retain your worker or self-employed person status
- Carried out ‘genuine and effective’ work in the UK.
What can I do with a Frontier Worker permit?
Apart from allowing you to enter the UK as a frontier worker, your permit would also provide you with the ability to:
- Work in the UK
- Access benefits and services, including NHS healthcare, given that you meet relevant eligibility requirements.
How do I apply for a Frontier Worker permit?
The application form must be completed online, and is accessible on smartphone, tablet or computer. The application procedure is as follows:
The following 3 steps outline the application procedure:
1. Prove your identity
You can use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ application to verify your identity by entering your contact preferences and scanning your passport. If you are unable to use the app, you will need to visit a visa application centre to verify your identity and may need to pay for this service where it is provided by a commercial partner.
2. Prepare your application
After proving your identity, you will need to enter your personal details, including time spent in the UK, details regarding your work in the UK, and reasons for retaining your worker or self-employed person status (if relevant). You will also be required to complete a criminality check.
3. Provide evidence and submit your application
The final step would involve providing details of your employment or self-employment history in the UK, through documentary evidence including contracts, payslips or invoices relating to your work carried out in the UK. If you are applying as someone who has, or had, retained status, you will need to provide proof of your reason for not working in the UK, such as a letter from your GP or proof of enrolment on a training course.
You will be notified if you need to attend an appointment at a visa application centre or UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point.
You will typically not be required to have an appointment if you successfully verify your identity via the smartphone application and have a passport or ID card with a biometric chip.
How much does it cost to get a Frontier Worker permit?
There is no fee when applying for the permit and you will not have to pay the immigration health surcharge. However, you may have to pay a fee of £19.20 to provide the Home Office with your biometric information, such as photographs or fingerprints, or to reuse previously provided information.
How long does a Frontier Worker permit last for?
Your Frontier Worker permit would last for 5 years, or 2 years if you apply with ‘retained’ status.
How do I renew my Frontier Worker permit?
You will need to prove that you continued to meet the eligibility requirements over the period of time since your last application when renewing your permit.
If you are not working (employed or self-employed) or temporarily unable to work when applying to renew your Frontier Worker permit, you may still be eligible to apply for a 2-year permit as an individual with ‘retained’ status, provided you meet the requirements.
How long will it take to receive my permit?
Your Frontier Worker permit should arrive within 10 days of receiving a decision from the Home Office regarding your application. You should also receive an email containing information about your permit.
What documents are required when applying for a Frontier Worker permit?
You will need a valid passport or national identity card to prove your identity during your application. The documentation you will be required to submit would depend on whether you are employed or self-employed, including:
- Employment contracts, or contracts to work in the UK
- Payslips, or copies of invoices for work carried out in the UK.
If you are applying with ‘retained’ status, you will need to provide further evidence supporting the criteria you meet. This includes letters from your doctor if you have an illness or proof of recent job applications if you are unemployed and looking for work.
What is Retained Frontier Worker status?
If you had to stop working due to an accident, illness, unemployment, vocational training, pregnancy or childbirth, you may be eligible for ‘retained’ status. You will be able to keep your permit for 2 years despite being unemployed.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may also be eligible for ‘retained’ status if you are unable to come to the UK and work because of pandemic restrictions.
Can I settle in the UK on a Frontier Worker status?
The Frontier Worker permit does not lead to settlement in the UK as it only constitutes a right of admission to the UK, not granting you leave to enter or remain. Family members are also not covered by the Frontier Worker permit.
If you wish to settle in the UK, you will need Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Woodcock Law hosted an informative online webinar series dealing with hot topics in UK immigration.
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