Travel to the UK for EEA and Swiss workers in the UK from 1 January

From 1 January 2021 the position is as follows:

Irish Nationals No Visa Can continue to live, work and study in the UK without obtaining immigration permission
EEA nationals living in the UK before 31 December 2020 No Visa Must apply for Settled or Pre-Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme
EEA nationals with existing working pattern in the UK before 31 December 2020 Frontier Worker Permit Transitional period until 30 June 2021. Frontier Worker Permit needed from 1 July 2021
All other new arrivals from 1 January 2021 Visa For visits with restricted business activities: EU, EEA and Swiss nationals can apply for a Standard Visitor Visa on arrival to the UK.
In all other cases: EU, EEA and Swiss nationals will need a sponsored visa before they travel to the UK, if they intend to live, work or study in the UK.
Unskilled workers will no longer be able to come to the UK to work.

Frontier Worker Permit

Suitable for workers who have an existing pattern of working in the UK 31 December 2020.

A frontier worker is an EEA or Swiss citizen, who works in the UK, but lives outside the UK. Typically, these are workers, who come over to carry out projects, construction work and work at seasonal events. However, the definition is wide, so will cover any worker who meets the criteria.

From 1 July 2021 a frontier worker will need a valid Frontier Worker Permit as well as a valid passport to enter the UK.

Frontier Worker Permit

The scheme is open to both employed and self-employed individuals.

The permit will normally be valid for 5 years and will be renewable indefinitely, provided that the individual continues to be a frontier worker.

Who can apply

The eligibility criteria are that the individual:

  • Primarily lives outside of the UK
  • Started employed or self-employed work in the UK by 31 December 2020
  • Carries out genuine and effective work
  • Has usually worked in the UK at least once every 12 months since UK working started

If individuals have been unable to work in the UK during a 12 month period, they will still be eligible, if the reason for the absence was due to:

  • Coronavirus pandemic
  • Temporarily unable to work due to illness, accident, pregnancy or childbirth
  • Unemployment

Costs of Frontier Worker Permits

Applications for the permit are free.

Application process

The application is made by the individual worker.

Individuals can apply from inside or outside the UK via an online process. Various information and evidence will need to be provided. We recommend compiling the information before the application is made.

Visas for EU, EEA and Swiss Citizens

From 1 January 2021 a new points-based immigration system will apply to EU, EEA and Swiss Citizens as well as non-EU citizens.

This will apply to any new workers without frontier worker status.

Standard Visitor Visa – Allowed restricted business activities

As a minimum, a Standard Visitor Visa will be needed to visit the UK. This will allow a visit to the UK of up to 180 days.

From 1 January 2021, EU, EEA and Swiss nationals will be classified as non-visa nationals. This means they do not have to obtain a visa before travel to the UK. They can apply on arrival for entry as a visitor.

Please note that visitors must hold a passport – National ID cards will no longer be accepted as valid travel documents.

Permitted business activities under a Standard Visitor Visa include:

  • Attending a conference, meeting or training.
  • Negotiating and signing deals and contracts.
  • Attending trade fairs, for promotional work only, provided the visitor is not directly selling.
  • Carrying out site visits and inspections.
  • Gathering information for their employment overseas.
  • Being briefed on the requirements of a UK based customer, provided any work for the customer is done outside of the UK.
  • An employee of a foreign manufacturer or supplier may install, dismantle, repair, service or advise on equipment, computer software or hardware where it has a contract of purchase or supply or lease with a UK company or organisation.

Home Office guidance states this activity should normally take less than one month to carry out.

Prohibited activities under a Standard Visitor Visa include:

  • Taking employment in the UK.
  • Doing work for an organisation or business in the UK.
  • Doing a work placement or internship.
  • Direct selling to the public.
  • Providing goods and services.
  • Covering for a role within a UK based organisation.

Sponsored visas for workers: Skilled Worker and Intra-Company Transfer visas

In all other cases, EU, EEA and Swiss nationals will require a sponsored visa to work in the UK. The visa must be sponsored by a UK Home Office licenced employer.

We have provided details for the Skilled Worker and Intra-Company Transfer visas, as they will be relevant for our clients.

Before 1 January 2021, these were known as “Tier 2 (general)” and “Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)” visas. In addition to renaming the categories, 2 key restrictions have been lifted. The cap on the number of skilled immigrant workers into the UK has been suspended and the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) has been removed. Under the RLMT sponsoring employers were required to advertise the job in the UK for a certain period of time, before being able to sponsor the licence for an immigrant worker.

Skilled Worker Visas

A points-based system has been introduced for Skilled Worker visas. The applicant must reach a total of 70 points, which is the minimum number needed to be eligible for sponsorship.

The points system is as follows:

Mandatory Requirements – Skilled Worker
Job offer from a Home Office approved sponsor 20 points
Job at RQF3* level or above 20 points
English language skills at level B1* 10 points
Points from mandatory requirements 50 points
Additional tradable points – Skilled Worker
  • at least £20,480 AND
  • at least 80% of the going rate for the profession
0 points PhD in subject relevant to the job 10 points
  • at least £23,040 AND
  • at least 90% of the going rate for the profession
10 points PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job 20 points
  • at least £25,600 AND
  • at least the going rate for the profession
20 points Job in a shortage occupation, as designated by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) 20 points

Intra-Company Transfer Visas

These are designed to support key staff from overseas group companies coming to support a UK subsidiary. They are designed to be temporary (less than 5 years) and require a higher level of skill and salary than the Skilled Worker visa.

Mandatory Requirements – Intra-Company Transfer
Employed by the business for 12 months (3 months for graduate trainee) prior to the date of transfer
Role at RQF6* level or above
Minimum salary of £41,500 (£23,000 for graduate trainee) per year or the going rate for the job
“Cooling off” rules – cannot hold entry clearance or leave to enter or remain as an intra-company transferee for more than five years in any six-year period
Entry for 12 months for graduate trainee and five years for company transfer (nine years for higher paid roles)

Fees for Skilled Worker and Intra-Company Transfer Visas

There are various fees that can apply. We expect the fees associated with visas for our clients will generally be as follows:

Application Fees
Up to 3 years £610 Per application
Over 3 years £1,220 Per application
Shortage occupation up to 3 years £464 Per application
Shortage occupation over 3 years £928 Per application
Other Fees
Immigration Skills Charge £1,000 Per year
Immigration Health Surcharge £624 Per year

Sponsorship Licence

A UK employer must hold a Sponsorship Licence issued by the Home Office to employ an individual who does not otherwise have the right to work in the UK (an overseas individual).

Who can get a sponsor licence

UK entities with HR systems in place to monitor the immigration process.

Entities will need to appoint people within the business to manage the sponsorship process. There are three specific roles that must be fulfilled, although these could all be done by one person.

Critically, the allocated staff must be based in the UK most of the time.

How to get a sponsor licence

  • Make an application to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
  • Provide detailed supporting documentation with the application.
  • Have appropriate systems in place to monitor sponsored employees.
  • Nominate at least 1 UK based employee to oversee the Sponsorship Licence.


The current UKVI fee for a Sponsorship Licence is £536 – £1,476.

Recommended Actions

  • Understand the new rules and how they affect your current business model.
  • Employees living in the UK before 31 December 2020 should apply for Settled or Pre-Settled Status. The deadline is 30 June 2021.
  • Employees with an existing work pattern in the UK prior to 31 December 2020, but who do not live in the UK should apply for a Frontier Worker Permit.
  • Visitors to the UK from 1 July 2021 will need to hold a passport – National ID cards will not be accepted.
  • Review if there is an existing group entity that holds a Sponsorship Licence.
  • Review if existing Sponsorship Licences need updating.
  • If no Sponsorship Licence in place and employees without a Frontier Worker Permit are needed to work in the UK: take steps needed to obtain a Licence. What entity will be used? Factor the time and cost required to obtain a Licence into business plans and budgets.
  • Review your supply chain to ensure that all subcontractors understand the new rules and are taking necessary steps.

How Türner & Co can help

  • Assist you and your workers through the Frontier Worker Permit application process.
  • Assist you and your immigration advisors in reviewing whether a Sponsorship Licence is needed and which entity will be the Sponsor.
  • Provide incorporation services, if needed.
  • Assist you and your immigration advisors in the application for a Sponsorship Licence.
  • Assist you and your immigration advisors in applications for Skilled Worker or Intra-Company Transfer Visas.
  • Assist you and your immigration advisors in setting up appropriate HR systems.

For more information contact Christine Turner:


Term Explanation
RQF3 A-level or equivalent qualification. Workers will not need to hold a formal qualification. It is the skill level of the job they will be doing which is relevant.
RQF6 Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent.
The Going Rate These rates are published by the government annually.
PhD points Points are only available if the PhD is relevant to the job. The government has published a list of occupations that will be able to claim PhD points. The list includes all occupations in the top skill level of the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code system.
English language level B1 Knowledge of English can be evidenced by:

  • Passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening;


  • Holding an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by the UK’s National Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) as being equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or PhD

There are approved test centres outside the UK – we can provide details if needed.


Disclaimer: The contents of this document are for general information only and are not a substitute for formal professional advice. Türner & Co accepts no liability for any actions taken or not taken on the basis of this document without taking formal advice from us. Information correct at 7 September 2020.

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