The United Kingdom has issued new guidance for frontier workers who want to continue working in the U.K. after the Brexit transition period comes to a close.

Frontier workers who have already been working in the U.K. by Dec. 31 will be able to maintain their frontier worker status but must apply for a permit to do so. Frontier workers arriving on or after Jan. 1, 2020, will be required obtain work authorization under the U.K.’s new points-based immigration system.

Key Points:

  • Frontier workers are defined as EU, EEA or Swiss nationals who are employed or self-employed in the U.K. but live outside of it. The definition of “employed” is relatively broad.
  • Frontier workers who are working in the country by Dec. 31 will be able to maintain their status in the U.K., but will be required to hold a frontier worker permit from July 1, 2021, to continue to commute to the U.K. Applications for these permits are now being accepted up until June 30, 2021.
  • Most frontier worker permits will be issued with a five-year validity period. In some cases, EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who previously worked as frontier workers in the U.K. will be able to obtain a “retained” frontier worker permit valid for two years. These permits will be available to EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who previously worked in the U.K. and are:
    • Unable to work because of an illness, accident or travel restrictions related to COVID-19.
    • Involuntarily unemployed and looking for work in the U.K.
    • Involuntarily unemployed and in vocational training.
    • Unemployed and in vocational training that is related to their previous work.
    • Unable to work because of pregnancy or childbirth.
  • EU/EEA/Swiss nationals on maternity or paternity leave and who plan to return to their job, or find another job, will be eligible for five-year permits.
  • Applicants must meet requirements for both living outside and working in the U.K. Applicants must not be a “resident” of the U.K. and, in most cases, will be eligible if they spent less than 180 days in 2020 in the United Kingdom, can show that they returned home regularly or that there were exceptional reasons for not being able to return home. Applicants must also show that they started working in the U.K. while living abroad before Dec. 31, that they came to the U.K. at least once every 12 months since they began working in the country and that they carried out “genuine and effective” work in the U.K.
  • Applications are free of charge and can be lodged on Applicants must:
    • Confirm their identity and contact information.
    • Prepare their applications.
    • Provide required supporting documentation and submit their application.
  • More information is available here. Applicants are encouraged to work closely with Deloitte throughout each step of the process.
  • Frontier workers will need to renew their permits every five years, or every two years for those with “retained” worker status. Renewal applicants will need to show that they continue to meet eligibility and suitability requirements.
  • Irish nationals will not be required to obtain a frontier worker permit. They can continue working in the U.K. under the Common Travel Area (CTA) arrangement between the U.K. and Ireland.

Background: The new guidance builds on guidance provided in September.

Analysis & Comments: Employers with employees who live in another country are encouraged to work with Deloitte to make sure those who are eligible to maintain their status do so and obtain the necessary frontier worker permit by July 1, 2021. Where there is a potential for employees to commence a working pattern which meets these guidelines, employers should think about formalizing the arrangement before Dec. 31 so that they can benefit from this permit type.

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