What is a Frontier Worker Permit?
The Frontier Worker Permit is a visa that’s designed for those who want to work in the UK but live in another country. These people are known as frontier workers, which is why the visa is given this name.
When freedom of movement was scrapped as a result of Brexit, this changed the immigration status for frontier workers, making life more complex for anyone working across borders between the UK and other EU countries.
As a result, along with the new points-based system, the British government introduced what’s known as the Frontier Worker Permit, and if you wish to work in the UK but live elsewhere in the EU then you’ll need to obtain this type of visa.
Frontier Worker Permit application process
It’s important to familiarise yourself with the application process before you apply for a Frontier Worker Permit. This will ensure you fulfil all the requirements and include everything that’s needed, avoiding any errors or oversights which could put your application in jeopardy.
You need to start your application online. This is the only way you can begin your application for a Frontier Worker Permit. When you complete your application form, you’ll be asked to prove your identity. How you do this will depend on which document you use to confirm your identity, and whether or not you’re able to use the UK Immigration: ID Check App. To do this you’ll need a smartphone.
When you submit your application, you’ll need to do one of the following:
- Use the UK Immigration: ID Check App to scan your identity document
- Attend a visa application centre to have your photograph and fingerprints taken (if applying from the outside UK and can’t use a smartphone app)
- Attend a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point (if applying from inside the UK and can’t use smartphone app)Once this is done, you’ll be asked to provide a range of evidence pertaining to your employment as a frontier worker
Documents needed to apply for the Frontier Worker Permit
When you apply for a Frontier Worker Permit, just like with any other visa you’ll be required to provide a range of documents to support your application. This is so the Home Office can assess eligibility and determine your identity.
The exact documents you’ll be asked to provide may differ depending on your circumstances, but generally, you can expect the following to be requested:
- Passport or national ID card
- Employment contract
If you have ‘retained’ status, you may be asked for additional documentation to act as evidence. For example, if you’ve informed the Home Office you have an illness, they may ask for a letter from your doctor.
Likewise, those currently seeking employment may need to provide job searches or proof of applications.
If you wish to obtain the Frontier Worker Permit, first there are a number of requirements you must meet.
If the following apply, then you may be eligible:
- You’re from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
- You live outside the UK
- You started your work on or before December 31st 2020
If all of these don’t apply to you, then the Frontier Worker Permit is the wrong visa to apply for and you’ll need to make an application for a different visa instead.
In addition, in most cases, it’s also a requirement that you have worked in the UK at least once every 12 months since you began your current employment.
As well as the aforementioned requirements, the work you’re undertaking must also be deemed as ‘genuine and effective’. This basically means you’ll need to be doing more than just small, one-off tasks such as an interview, taking part in an event or signing a contract.
For anyone who’s unsure whether or not their work meets the requirement, the Home Office’s official website has guidance on what constitutes ‘genuine and effective’ work.
What qualifies as living outside the UK?
One of the key requirements when applying for a Frontier Worker Permit is you must live ‘primarily’ outside the UK. However, if you’re looking to make an application, you might be wondering exactly how this is defined.
If you spent less than 180 days in the UK over the course of any 12-month period since your current employment, you should be eligible.
In the event you spent 180 days or more in the UK during a 12-month period, you may still be eligible if you returned to the country you live in at least either:
Once every 6 months
Twice in the 12-month period
If exceptional circumstances such as illness or COVID restrictions have prevented you from travelling to your home country, you may be able to apply anyway.
Likewise, if you’ve been unable to work or unemployed during a 12-month period due to unforeseen circumstances, you may still be eligible. This may be because you were:
- Temporarily unable to work because of illness or an accident
- Temporarily unable to work because you were pregnant or you’d given birth
- You’ve been unable to come to the UK to work due to COVID-19
- You’re voluntarily unemployed and undertaking vocational training related to your last employment
- Involuntarily unemployed and either looking for work or undertaking vocational training
Retained worker status
If you’re unable to work for any of the reasons above, you’ll automatically receive what’s known as ‘retained worker’ or ‘retained self-employed person’ status.
If you become involuntarily unemployed and are looking for work, the length of time for which you receive this status will depend on how long you worked in the UK.
Those who worked in the UK for less than a year before becoming unemployed will receive retained worker status for 6 months, while anyone who worked in the UK for a year or more will keep this status for as long as they continue to look for work.
To prove you’re looking for work, you’ll need to be registered with an employment office such as Jobcentre Plus.
Cost of the Frontier Worker Permit
If you’ve established you’re eligible for the Frontier Worker Permit and you’ve familiarised yourself with the application process, naturally, you might now be wondering how much it costs to apply.
If so, you’ll be glad to know it’s free. Unlike many other visas in the United Kingdom, there’s no fee for submitting an application.
Moreover, the employer is not required to pay the immigration skills fee (usually £1000) and the applicant won’t need to pay the immigration health surcharge.
Awaiting your decision
Once you’ve completed the application form, provided all the evidence and confirmed your identity (in person or using your smartphone) it’s just a case of waiting for a decision.
If you need to change anything on your application after it’s been submitted, you should contact the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). You should do this as soon as possible to avoid any significant delays.
If your application is approved, you’ll be sent a notice confirming it’s been a success.
Once you’ve received notice your application has been a success you should then receive your Frontier Worker Permit within 10 days. Those who applied with the smartphone app will receive this notice in digital form.
If your application is unsuccessful, you’ll be notified and a reason for the decision will be given. The notice will also explain that you have the right to either an administrative review or an immigration decision appeal. Which option you choose will be at your discretion.
How long does the Frontier Worker Permit last?
The period of time your Frontier Worker Permit lasts will depend on your circumstances.
If you were employed when you made the application then your permit will be valid for a period of 5 years.
Alternatively, if you had ‘retained’ status when you made your application then your Frontier Worker Permit will be valid for 2 years instead.
Once your permit has expired, if you wish to continue working in the UK on the same type of visa then you’ll need to apply for an extension.
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Yes! One of the main benefits of the worker visa shake-up is some services are now free. Luckily for those who are making an application for the Frontier Worker Visa, this is one of them.
Unfortunately not. As the Frontier Worker Permit is for those who live overseas, time spent in the UK on this type of visa won’t count towards your Indefinite Leave to Remain qualifying period.
If you eventually want to obtain permanent residence, you could take the Skilled Worker Visa route instead.