Employment and Immigration Update - Frontier workers


27 November 2020

We reported back in September that frontier workers will need to apply for a new permit in order to continue working in the UK, but further details were still awaited. The UK government has recently updated its guidance.

Frontier workers are EU nationals who are employed or self-employed in the UK but live abroad. As they are not UK resident, they are unlikely to be eligible for settled or pre-settled status.

Employees who are frontier workers before 31 December 2020 will be able to retain this status, but they will need to apply for a frontier worker permit. The Government intends to launch the frontier worker permit scheme on 10 December 2020. Applicants will be able to apply for a frontier worker permit online from inside or outside the UK and all applications will be free of charge.

The frontier worker permit will be valid for five years for workers, or two years for self-employed individuals. Frontier workers will not need a permit to enter the UK until after 30 June 2021. Until this date, all frontier workers who held this status before 31 December 2020 will be able to enter the UK using a valid passport or national identity card. On or after 1 July 2021 however, they must ensure that they have a valid frontier worker permit as well as their passport or identity card upon arrival to the UK.

This scheme only applies to individuals who are frontier workers before the end of this year. Anyone who only becomes a frontier worker after 1 January 2021 will need to meet requirements of the new Immigration Rules.

Irish nationals do not need to apply, as they will still be able to enter the UK and work here, under the Common Travel Area arrangements.

Employers of cross-border workers should now consider whether their workers will require such permits. However, employers should also be aware that this status will not lead to settlement in the UK in the future. If the applicant is able and willing to move to the UK before the end of the year, they could then apply for pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme instead, which would give them greater rights to live and work in the UK.

This article is from the November 2020 issue of Employment and Immigration Law Update, our monthly newsletter for HR professionals. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. For more details regarding any of the matters covered in this update, please contact Janice Leggett in our Immigration Team.

The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at November 2020.

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