'I'm disabled and can't queue for residency card'

Obtaining a residency card can be especially trying if you have disabilities

I am disabled and it would be difficult for me to queue at my prefecture to apply for a carte de séjour. When I call the prefecture (Allier) someone answers but then puts the phone down. What can I do? M.I.

Typically, some prefectures have a system where you have to simply turn up and queue while others systematically offer appointments at a specific time. The latter is clearly preferable for people with disabilities and the Interior Ministry has told Connexion they are asking prefectures to adopt it, however where it is not in place they said you should contact your prefecture to find a solution – which brings us back to your specific difficulty in the Allier.

We contacted the prefecture and they advised that you should telephone them to speak to the bureau des étrangers (foreigners service) during a two-hour slot on weekdays, 14.30 to 16.30, on 04 70 48 33 47. They said the service can arrange for you to have a fixed appointment on a Wednesday morning. In fact consulting their website shows they generally operate a mixed system, with fixed appointments on Wednesday mornings and queuing on other days. However in prefectures where this is not ordinarily the case we would hope also that exceptions can also be made in cases like yours.

We note however that this telephone number given is the one you told us you have already used. Firstly, do make sure you are calling at the times advised – this applies to anyone seeking to contact their prefecture’s étrangers service by phone, as they often have limited times for telephone enquiries, which are usually detailed on their website.

Secondly, we tried the number but after a short wait a person answered, listened to the start of our explanation and then transferred the call, which then continued to ring. After another short wait the foreigners’ service picked up. They said that calls go through to an operator if they are busy, who tries to put it through to them again. So, we would suggest persisting with a call as long as it is ringing or on a holding message.

It is worth pointing out for readers in other areas of France that at another prefecture we tried to telephone there was no facility to wait on the line if the service was busy, you just had to persist in calling, hanging up and calling again until someone picked up.

There is a chapter on carte de séjour applications in our helpguide to Brexit and Britons in France, available at this link or from selected newsagents.

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