Following the departure of the UK from the European Union, the UK government has acknowledged and protected the rights of EU and EFTA frontier workers who primarily live outside the UK, but who have regularly worked inside the UK since before 31 December 2020.

EU and EFTA nationals who live outside the UK, but work in the UK on a regular basis can apply for the Frontier Worker Permit (the Permit). The Permit can be useful for any kind of worker who meets the eligibility criteria, from C-suite executives to HGV drivers and industrial cleaners. The Permit is not a visa, but affirms the frontier worker’s right to enter, live and work in the UK in accordance with its conditions.


The main eligibility criteria for the Permit are that the frontier worker:

  1. Is a national of an EU or EFTA member state.
  2. Is not primarily resident in the UK. This means they must
    • Spend fewer than 180 days in the UK in any 12 month period since 1 January 2020; or
    • Return to their country of residence once every 6 months, or twice every 12 months (if they have been a Frontier Worker for more than 12 months).
  3. Has worked in the UK before 31 December 2020, and since then has worked in the UK at least once every 12 months.

The Permit is available to both employees and self-employed workers. Employment must be genuine and effective, not marginal or ancillary, and self-employment must be stable and regular, not providing services on a temporary basis. If the frontier worker does not meet (or no longer meets) the work requirements, then it is possible they may apply under what is called “retained status” where they are able to show good reasons why they have not been able to work in the UK for the previous 12 months (for example, they were unable to return to work in the UK because of prevailing COVID travel restrictions).


The Permit can be held at the same time as another type of immigration status, for example Pre-Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme. It is possible for frontier workers who already hold Pre-Settled Status, but are not eligible for Settled Status, to continue to hold the right to live and work in the UK on a more ad hoc basis with the Permit. It stands as a viable alternative to the EU Settlement Scheme and other, more expensive, sponsored work visas such as the Skilled Worker and Intra-Company Transfer routes, provided that the frontier worker is eligible and does not intend to settle in the UK long term.

The Permit may also be valuable for organisations to bring eligible frontier workers to the UK whose occupations are below the skills threshold for sponsorship under a Skilled Worker visa.

There are no limits to the number of times the Permit can be renewed provided that the frontier worker still meets the requirements, and it can be renewed for up to 5 years at a time.

How we can help?

The success of an application, in our experience, turns very much on correctly determining an applicant’s eligibility, and the strength of evidence which has been prepared and provided to the Home Office. This means it is particularly important to obtain professional representation to avoid the risk of refusals. The Immigration team at Charles Russell Speechlys are experienced in assisting private individuals seeking to apply or extend their permit and businesses looking to find the right solutions for international staff or regular contractors.

We provide bespoke advice to cover part or all of the process as required, including:

  • Detailed, pre-application advice on the Permit
  • Assessment of eligibility criteria and documentary evidence
  • Advising on appropriate supporting letters from employers and clients
  • Comprehensive document checklists
  • Guidance on completing the application form
  • Reviewing the completed application form
  • Letters of legal representation to the Home Office
  • Post-grant advice on the terms and conditions of the Permit

If you have any queries or would like to know more about how we can assist you, please contact Rose Carey.