The Home Office and UK Visas and Immigration have 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 are EU, EEA or Swiss nationals who are employed or self-employed in the U.K. but live outside of it. The U.K. will switch to a new points-based immigration system on Jan. 1, 2021, when the Brexit transition period ends. Frontier workers who want to begin work in the U.K. after Jan. 1, 2021, will be required to apply for work authorization under the new points-based system, but those who have previously worked in the U.K. as a frontier worker will, in many cases, be able to maintain their status.

Key Points:

  • Frontier workers who are working in the country by Dec. 31 will be able to maintain their status, but will be required to apply for a frontier worker permit.
  • EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who previously worked as frontier workers in the U.K. may be able to maintain frontier worker status and obtain a frontier worker permit if, as of Dec. 31, they are:
    • unable to work because of an illness or accident;
    • 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; or
    • on maternity or paternity leave and will return to their job, or find another job, at the end of their leave.
  • The U.K. will launch the frontier worker permit scheme later this year. Applications will be free and can be submitted from inside or outside the U.K.
  • Frontier workers will need a valid frontier worker permit, in addition to their passport or national ID card, to enter the U.K. beginning July 1, 2021.
  • Irish nationals will not be required to obtain a frontier worker permit. They may continue working next year and thereafter under the Common Travel Area (CTA) arrangement between the U.K. and Ireland.
  • Non-U.K., non-Irish nationals who wish to begin working as frontier workers on or after Jan. 1, 2021, must obtain work authorization under the U.K.’s new points-based immigration system.

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 the July 1, 2021 deadline. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, and Deloitte will provide additional updates as information becomes available. Please check Deloitte’s COVID-19 Digital Map, available here, for information on travel restrictions and immigration changes in other countries.

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