UK: Further Guidance and New Application System Announced for Frontier Worker Permits

December 17, 2020 Lucy Halse

Key Points

  • The UK government has provided more guidance and introduced a new application system for EU, EEA, and Swiss frontier workers
  • The guidance applies to frontier workers working in the UK before December 31, 2020
  • Frontier worker rights are protected under the Withdrawal Agreement for workers in the UK before the Brexit transition
  • The new guidelines apply to active, retained, and self-employed workers
  • Dependents and frontier workers arriving in the UK after December 31, 2020 are not eligible for the Frontier Worker Permit
  • Frontier workers in the UK by December 31, 2020 can continue working under their current permit through June 30, 2021
  • All frontier workers must have a Frontier Worker Permit or relevant UK visa by July 1, 2021
  • Irish nationals are exempt from the requirement to obtain a Frontier Worker Permit

Overview

The Government of the UK has provided more details for EU, EEA, and Swiss frontier workers to continue working in the UK after June 30, 2021. The application process and guidance details apply to EU, EEA, and Swiss frontier workers working in the UK before December 31, 2020.  

Background

Frontier workers who have established cross-border status as frontier workers before December 31, 2020 may continue to perform frontier worker activities under the Withdrawal Agreement. Some EU countries have established cross-border frontier worker policies for UK nationals, but other countries are still formulating post-Brexit processes.

What are the Changes?

The Government of the UK has started the application process for EU, EEA, and Swiss nationals to continue working as frontier workers in the UK after June 30, 2021, which is the end of the grace period for frontier workers.

Who is Affected?

To be eligible for a Frontier Worker Permit under the new guidelines, individuals must be a national of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland. They may not have primary residency in the UK. Additionally, they must be an active worker, self-employed worker, or a retained worker who is classified as a frontier worker but unable to work for an acceptable reason such as an accident, illness, involuntary employment, pregnancy, or vocational training. Individuals must be performing frontier work in the UK before December 31, 2020.

Certain individuals are not eligible for the new Frontier Worker Permit, including frontier workers who start work in the UK after December 31, 2020 and dependents of frontier workers who are not covered under the Frontier Worker policy.

What Should Employers and Applicants Know?

The Frontier Worker Permit has a five-year eligibility period for frontier workers and individuals who are self-employed. The permit has a two-year validity for retained workers. The permit is renewable for all categories.

To apply for the permit, frontier workers can use the ‘UK Immigration:ID check’ app through January 22, 2021. Frontier workers can apply online from within the UK after that date without using the app. Applicants who are abroad can submit their biometrics using a visa application center. Application processing times will be announced when available.

Applicants who are applying using the ID check app will receive digital permits. Frontier workers who are applying from outside the country at a visa center will receive a physical permit when they arrive in the UK. They will receive further entry instructions before arrival. Starting on January 22, 2021, frontier workers applying electronically from within the UK rather than using the app will be issued a physical Frontier Worker Permit.

Grace Period and Exemptions

A grace period applies for eligible frontier workers to continue working in the UK as a frontier worker without applying for another permit or visa for frontier worker activities through June 30, 2021. Starting on July 1, 2021, all frontier workers must obtain a Frontier Worker Permit or another applicable UK visa to continue working as a Frontier Worker in the UK.

Irish nationals are exempt from the requirements. They will not need to apply for a Frontier Worker Permit to perform frontier worker activities before or after the Brexit transition.

Looking Ahead

The new application system allows frontier workers from the EU, EEA, and Switzerland who are working in the UK as of December 31, 2020 to continue working in the UK after June 30, 2021 following the Brexit transition. Frontier workers who do not apply for the permit will not be able to enter the UK to work as frontier workers until July 1, 2021.

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Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional. 

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