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A Frontier Worker permit lets you come to the UK to work while living elsewhere.

You may be eligible if all of the following apply:

  • you’re from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein

  • you live outside of the UK

  • you have worked in the UK by 31 December 2020

  • you have kept working in the UK at least once every 12 months since you started working here


If you’re an Irish citizen, you do not need to apply for a Frontier Worker permit but you can choose to do so.

You cannot apply if you’re a British citizen (this includes dual citizenship).

What the permit allows you to do:

You can use your permit to enter the UK as a frontier worker and show your right to:

  • work

  • rent

  • access benefits and services, including NHS healthcare, if you meet the relevant eligibility requirements


When and how to apply

If you’re a frontier worker, you’ll need a permit to enter the UK to work from 1 July 2021. You can use your passport or national identity card until then.

You must apply online.

You’ll be told if you’ll also need to go to an appointment at a visa application centre or UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point.

You will not usually need an appointment if you can use a smartphone app and have a passport or ID card with a biometric chip.


Family members: 

Family members are not covered by your Frontier Worker permit.

Who can apply

You can only apply for a Frontier Worker permit if you’re from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, and you:

  • live outside the UK

  • have worked in the UK by 31 December 2020

  • have kept working in the UK at least once every 12 months since you started working here


Living outside the UK

You must live ‘primarily’ outside of the UK. How you meet this requirement depends on how much time you’ve spent here since 1 January 2020.

You’ll be eligible if you’ve spent less than 180 days in total in the UK over the course of any 12 month period.

If you’ve spent 180 days or more in the UK within 12 months:

You’ll still be eligible if, in that 12 month period, you returned to the country you live in at least either:

  • once every 6 months

  • twice in the 12 month period


You’ll still be able to apply if there are exceptional circumstances meaning you could not travel to your country of residence in this period, such as an illness or accident.


Working in the UK

You must have:

  • started working in the UK while living elsewhere on or before 31 December 2020, either as an employed or self-employed person

  • come to the UK to work at least once every 12 months since then

You’ll be eligible as long as your work in the UK is ‘genuine and effective’. This means it must be more than small, one-off tasks, such as:

  • an interview

  • taking part in a one-off competition or audition

  • signing a contract

If you’re not sure if your work is eligible, the Home Office has guidance on what counts as genuine and effective work.

If you’ve not worked in the UK during a 12 month period: 

If there has been a 12 month period where you’ve not come to the UK to work, you might still be eligible.

You must have worked in the UK, while living elsewhere, by 31 December 2020. During the 12 month period you were not working, you must have been:

  • temporarily unable to work because of an illness or accident

  • temporarily unable to work because you were pregnant or had given birth

  • involuntarily unemployed, and either looking for work or doing vocational training

  • voluntarily unemployed and doing vocational training related to your last occupation

  • unable to come to the UK and work because of coronavirus (COVID-19)

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

Documents you’ll need to apply:

When you apply you’ll need a valid passport or national identity card.

You’ll be told which documents you need to provide when you apply. Some depend on whether you’re employed or self-employed, for example:

  • an 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’ll be asked for evidence for which criteria you meet. For example, a letter from a doctor if you have an illness, or copies of recent job applications if you’re unemployed and seeking work.

The Home Office has more examples of the types of evidence you will be asked for.


If you applied using the ‘UK Immigration: ID check’ app, you’ll be issued a digital version of your permit.

If you do not use the smartphone app to apply, you’ll either be sent:

  • a physical version of the permit (if you applied inside the UK)

  • an email explaining how you can come to the UK and collect your permit (if you applied outside the UK)

Your permit will last for 5 years, or 2 years if you apply with ‘retained’ status.

When you’re working in the UK: 

You’ll usually have to pay tax on your UK income.

You can change jobs or move from being employed to self-employed in the UK without needing to tell the Home Office.

You need to tell the Home Office if you stop working in the UK and do not meet one of the retained status criteria.

For a more detailed discussion regarding your case, please book an appointment or call us now on 07835601240 

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