There is no doubt that working across borders between the UK and the EU countries has become more complex but it certainly does not have to be the end of the road for your frontier dream.
New challenges for a large number of citizens, especially those known as frontier or cross border workers, raised by the UK’s points-based immigration system and the end of EU free movement, can easily be overcome.
A frontier worker is an EU citizen who is employed or self-employed in the UK but resident elsewhere. These individuals are also referred to as cross border workers.
To legally be classified as a frontier worker under EU law, workers must return to the country of residence at least once per week.
To help the changeover after Brexit, the Government introduced a frontier worker permit in December 2020.
It is designed to enable cross border workers to continue with their flexible working and travel arrangements without getting tangled up in the new points-based system.
The permit is only designed for those who have previously been considered cross border workers but flexible enough that it should include most of those eligible to apply.
EU nationals who want to continue being employed or self-employed in the UK while resident elsewhere, must be able to prove they were working in the UK on or before 31 December 2020.
However, you must hold a frontier worker permit to enter the UK, this came into force in 1 July 2021. Applicants must be able to prove their main place of residence is outside of the UK and they split their working times between the UK and abroad.
The definition of worker contained within Article 9 of the Withdrawal Agreement (2019/C 384 1/01) is important here, which is: “Union citizens or United Kingdom nationals who pursue an economic activity in accordance with Article 45 or 49 TFEU in one or more States in which they do not reside.”
Worker refers to its meaning within article 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. To be included in the definition, the activities must be genuine and effective, not marginal and ancillary. There are no minimum amount of hours an applicant must work in the UK.
Visitor-related activities are not affected, such as attending interviews or meetings, negotiating or signing a deal or a contract where the work is primarily carried out outside of the UK.
There is no deadline to apply under this scheme. If you have worked during the course of 2020 and have remained an EU national, you can trace your economic activities and provide evidence that you have not been primarily resident in the UK, then you can apply. There is wide flexibility in proving evidence of economic activities. You do not need to provide a contract of employment or get paid in the UK as long as you can show that you received some remuneration for the work done in the UK.
An applicant must be able to show economic activity in the UK in the 12 months period prior to 31 December 2020, or be able to meet the requirements for retained worker status to qualify.
The guidance requires the applicant to have been economically active in the UK at least once in every rolling 12-month period from their first period of economic activity, to be considered a frontier worker.
If there is a period where the applicant has not been economically active in the UK, the Home Office will consider if they have ‘retained’ frontier worker status.
The application process: