What is a Frontier Worker permit?

Migrants who are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, and living outside the UK, might be able to apply for a Frontier Worker permit to work and stay in the UK. This category was opened on 10 December 2020.

Please note that individuals will also need to meet the requirements for working in the UK, for instance:

  • Migrants have started working in the UK while living elsewhere by 31 December 2020, either as an employed or self-employed person;
  • Individuals are carrying out an eligible job;
  • Applicants usually have worked in the UK (as an employed or self-employed person) at least once every 12 months since they started working here. The guidance then requires the applicant to continue to have worked in the UK at least once in every rolling 12-month period since then to maintain their frontier worker status.
  • It does not lead to ILR.

Please note that it is free to apply for a Frontier Worker permit.

Living outside the UK

In order to apply for a Frontier Worker permit, migrants have to reside ‘primarily’ outside the UK, for example, if they have spent less than 180 days in total in the UK in any 12-month period.

The Home Office is not interested in any time spent in the UK before 1 January 2020. They will check whether the applicant has spent less than 180 days in the UK during any rolling 12-month period from 1 January 2020 until the date of application. If it is an application to renew a permit then the 12 month periods will run from the date the last permit was granted.

If individuals have spent 180 days or more in the UK within 12 months, they might still be eligible if in that 12-month period, they returned the country that they lived in at least either once every 6 months or twice in the 12-month period.

Meanwhile, it is important to note that their work in the UK must be ‘genuine and effective’.

What if you have been unable to work or unemployed in the UK during a 12-month period?

Individuals might still be eligible if they have been unemployed or not worked during a 12-month if they were:

  • Temporarily unable to work because of an illness or accident;
  • Temporarily unable to work because they were pregnant or had given birth;
  • Unable to come to the UK and work because of coronavirus (COVID-19);
  • Voluntarily unemployed and doing vocational training related to their last occupation;
  • Involuntarily unemployed, and either looking for work in the UK or doing vocational training.

This is known as having ‘retained worker’ or ‘retained self-employed person’ status.

How long is a frontier worker permit valid for?

A frontier worker permit is valid for 5 years if the migrant meets the eligibility criteria as a current frontier worker under regulation 3 of the Regulation, or 2 years if the individual meets the eligibility criteria as someone with retained worker status under regulation 4 of the Regulation.

Please not that if the migrant became involuntarily unemployed and looking for work, they will keep their status for 6 months if they worked in the UK for less than a year before becoming unemployed, or as long as he/she continues to look for work, if he/she worked in the UK for a year or more before becoming unemployed.

Contact Our Immigration Team

For expert advice regarding any aspect of the UK visa application, please contact our immigration team on 0203 384 3075.

The content of this article is for general use and information only. Since each case should be prepared on its own merit and in light of the constant amendments to the Immigration Rules, it is important to note that the information provided must not be relied upon unless Migra & Co has either given written consent or has been officially engaged in relation to a specific immigration matter. As a result, Migra & Co will take no responsibility for any damage, cost or loss resulting from relying on the information contained in this article, blog and website.


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