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The frontier worker permit

24 May 2021

All EU citizens who were not residing in the UK by the end of December 2020 and want to live and work in the UK from 1 January 2021 must apply for a visa as a result of Brexit.

However, the Withdrawal Agreement contains provisions to protect “Frontier Workers” as they do not need a visa to work in the UK from 1 January 2021 but will need a permit to be allowed to travel and work in the UK from 1 July 2021.

Who are frontiers workers?

The term “Frontier Worker” is new and unhelpful as whether the worker lives/works on the UK border is not relevant.

So, who are frontier workers, and can you be one without even knowing it?

A frontier worker is an EU citizen who is employed or self-employed in the UK and is resident elsewhere.

You may be eligible to be a frontier worker if you meet all of the following conditions:

  • You are a national of an EU member state, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein;
  • You spent less than a total of 180 days in the UK in any 12-month period;
  • You are a European worker, self-employed or a contractor;
  • You can establish that you carried out genuine and effective work in the UK as an employed or self-employed person before 31 December 2020 and continued to be an employed or self-employed person after that date;
  • You have worked at least once every 12 months since you started working in the UK;
  • You meet the usual suitability requirements.

Upon successful application, a frontier worker permit will allow an EU citizen to continue to work in the UK while remaining resident in an EU country and will also give access to benefits and services including the NHS. A frontier worker permit is valid for 5 years or 2 years (if the individual applies with ‘retained worker’ status) and the permit can be renewed.

Is there a deadline to apply?

There is no deadline to apply, but anyone who would like to benefit from a right of admission as a frontier worker must hold a valid frontier worker permit from 1 July 2021.

If you think you may meet the above conditions and want to apply for a permit, we recommend that you take expert legal advice without delay. The application is free and can be made online from inside or outside the UK by a worker or self-employed person.

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