What is a Frontier Worker Permit?
The Frontier Worker Permit scheme is a visa that’s designed for those who want to work in the UK but are primarily resident in another country. These people are known as frontier workers (or cross border workers).
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 the Frontier Worker permit to allow non-UK residents to continue working in the UK.
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, or contracts to work in the UK
- Payslips, or copies of invoices for work carried out in the UK
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 or self-employment 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
The Frontier Worker Permit is free to apply for. 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), you must wait to hear back from the Home Office.
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 this.
Once you’ve received notice your application has been approved, 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 for a Frontier Worker permit is refused, you will receive a letter from the Home Office detailing the reasons why.
The letter will also explain if you’re eligible for either an administrative review or an immigration decision appeal.
Pursuing either an administrative review or an appeal can be a long, costly and complex process. It’s highly recommended that you seek the help from an immigration lawyer if you wish to do either of these things. Contact Manchester Immigration Lawyers for expert advice and assistance on 0161 826 9783 or contact us online today.
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.
How can your Manchester immigration lawyers help?
Here at Manchester immigration lawyers, we have a wealth of expertise in all aspects of immigration law, including Frontier Worker permits.
Every day we work with people in the same situation as you, and you can rest assured we’re best placed to help with your application and provide the best possible chances of success of obtaining Frontier Worker status.
Whether you require assistance with determining your eligibility for a UK work visa such as the Frontier Worker visa, unsure about which visa is right for your own personal situation, or just need to talk to an immigration adviser one-on-one for the greatest amount of personal support, we can help.
We can also assist you with obtaining a Skilled Worker visa if you wish to permanently settle in the UK long-term.
For more information about the services we can provide and what we can do for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on 0161 826 9783 or contact us online.
Last modified on June 15th, 2023 at 2:12 pm
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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.
You can apply to renew your Frontier Worker permit online through the gov.uk website.
When you apply, you must ensure that you still meet the eligibility requirements for the permit.
If you’re not employed or self-employed when you wish to renew your permit, you’ll instead be able to apply for a 2-year permit as an individual with ‘retained’ status, as detailed in the section above.
Unfortunately, family members are not covered by the Frontier Worker permit.
If you wish for your family members to be able to travel to, and work in, the UK, they may instead be able to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.