Fri 29 Jan 2021

Is the Frontier Worker permit a potential solution for Seasonal Workers?

I recently wrote about how the new immigration system would affect agricultural jobs, and now a new visa category has been introduced which might also be useful for those in the sector. One of the most commonly raised issues with the new system is how it applies to Seasonal Workers, who may not qualify for sponsored jobs and may not be able to claim Pre-Settled or Settled Status on the basis of residence in the UK in the last six months.

The main route for these workers is the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme but at the time of writing there are only two organisations able to sponsor workers under this route, and the Home Office has indicated they will not consider new applications from other organisations. This means that there are only 10,000 places for seasonal workers across the whole of the UK, and the sector has consistently argued that more places are needed.

One of the new immigration categories created after Brexit, is the Frontier Worker permit. This is designed to cover people who live in another country but regularly work in the UK even though they are not resident here. Some of the common examples of Frontier Workers include self-employed consultants who travel to the UK regularly or employees who commute between their home country and the UK. However, in my view, it could potentially be used to cover individuals who have a history of travelling to the UK to carry out seasonal work.

The requirements to qualify for the permit are:

  • The person is an EU or EEA national;
  • The person lives outside the UK, and spends less than 180 days here each year;
  • The person worked in the UK before the end of December 2020; and
  • They have worked in the UK at least once every 12 months since they started working in the UK.

So, how could this be applied to seasonal workers? The main group this will cover are workers who were in the UK at the start of 2020 and then left the UK before June 2020. These people will not be eligible for the Settled Status Scheme due to having been outside the UK for six months but they can still apply for the Frontier Worker permit. If this is granted, they will be able to work in the UK for the next five years as long as they do not spend more than 180 days here in any year. This permit can then be renewed for a further five years.

With the limited visa options to bring seasonal workers from the EU, the Frontier Worker permit may be a useful option but anyone considering it will need to take action quickly to avoid being outside the UK for more than 12 months and losing their eligibility to apply.

We can assist with assessing visa options for seasonal workers, and applications for Frontier Worker permits or any other applicable visas, so if you have questions please get in touch.

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