On 10 December 2020, the Home Office released a new immigration route called the Frontier Worker permit. In a post Brexit area, this immigration category will assist individuals to continue with cross boarder working arrangements, where they work in the UK but live abroad. From 1 July 2021, all frontier workers will need a permit to enter the UK to work.
Frontier Worker permits are open to:

• nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein;
• who live ‘primarily’ outside of the UK;
• who are workers or self-employed in the UK before 31 December 2020; and
• have worked in the UK at least once every 12 months since they started here.

Example case study

An example of where the Frontier Worker permit could be used is as follows: a French national lives in France but has worked for a company in London since March 2019. They have come to London 1 week every month from January 2020 to carry out ‘genuine and effective’ work as part of their work.

They will be eligible to apply for a Frontier Worker permit and receive a 5-year permit, which will allow them to continue to enter the UK every month, for their work, from 1 July 2021.

Application process

This route is free to apply to and the Home Office has allowed caseworkers to exercise discretion in favour of the applicant where appropriate, to minimise administrative burdens.

Individuals must apply online and submit evidence of their identity and evidence of their worker or self-employed person status in the UK. Evidence of being not primarily resident in the UK may also be required.

If the application is successful, a permit will be granted for 5 years. Alternatively, a permit may be granted for 2 years if an individual applies with ‘retained’ status ie they have stopped working temporarily.

Final thoughts

At a time when organisations are considering how best to manage their workforce in the UK and overseas, this route offers a flexible solution for individuals to carry out productive work in the UK, if they meet the requirements of the route.

Whilst this is an attractive visa option, it will of course be important to consider each case on a case by case basis as the individual facts may give rise to another type of immigration application such as status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised in this update, please contact Chetal Patel on [email protected] or 020 7551 7741.