UK Immigration News: Frontier Worker rights in 2021


Brexit was causing a great deal of anxiety for EU citizens working or living in the UK. Many were initially confused as to what rights EU citizens would hold post-Brexit and one of the most common questions 4A Law got was, β€œCan EU citizens work in the UK after Brexit?”

Now that the UK has already left the EU and we are well into the transition period that ends on 31 December 2020, the UK government has issued a set of new guidelines about the rights and status of frontier workers in the UK.

The new guidelines would come into effect from 1 January 2021 and apply to any frontier workers who wish to work from that date onwards.

What is a Frontier Worker?

You are a frontier worker if you are an EU, EEA , or Swiss citizen who lives elsewhere but has to routinely commute to the UK for work purposes. You may be employed or self-employed in the UK.

Frontier workers are also known as commuters or cross-border workers. According to the EU law, you must return to your home country at least once a week to hold the legal status of a frontier worker.

Working in the UK as a Frontier Worker

Scenario A: Frontier Workers Before 1 January 2021

EU, EEA, and Swiss frontier workers who are working in the UK will be able to do so until 31 December 2020. Their working rights and status will remain unchanged and they can commute freely as long as they began employment or self-employment before 31 December. But you will need to apply for a frontier worker permit. This scheme is to be made available later this year by the Government. There are no details as of yet on this Frontier Worker Permit. Though the home Office has proposed that it will be free and you should be able to apply online.

Any applications for the Frontier Worker Permit will need to be made by 1 July 2021 and you will also need your passport por your national ID card to enter the UK as a Frontier Worker.

Between 1 January 2021 and 1 July 2021, you will be able to enter the UK using just your passport or ID card. This will give you the opportunity to make the online application and receive the permit.

Frontier workers (EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens) who have retained their status due to one of the following will also need to apply for a Frontier Worker Permit . If one of the following conditions apply to you:

You are not able to work temporarily because of an injury, illness, or accident
You are temporarily unable to work because of pregnancy or childbirth
You are on maternity or paternity leave and plan on returning to your previous job or seek a new one at the end of this period
You were working in the UK previously but are now involuntarily unemployed and seeking work
You are in vocational training while being involuntarily unemployed
You are in vocational training while being unemployed and the training being delivered is related to the work they carried out in their previous job
From 1 January 2021 onwards all EU, EEA, and Swiss frontier workers would have to apply for a frontier worker permit to enter the UK as a frontier worker. The only exception to this rule is Irish citizens who do not need to do anything to commute freely and will remain unaffected.

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