More than 10,000 Britons in France still awaiting a residency card
Deadline for holding a card for Britons relying on the Brexit deal is one week away. If you are among the 10,000 you should check you have your email receipt
For those Britons in France yet to have their card, we look at what you should do before the October 1 deadline for holding a card Pic: Screenshot from contacts-demarches.interieur.gouv.fr
More than 10,000 applications for Britons’ Withdrawal Agreement (WA) residency cards still remain to be processed in France with one week to go before the October 1 deadline for holding a card.
The figure comes from the latest report of the joint EU/UK committee on citizens’ rights which meets regularly to monitor the implementation of the WA deal.
As of September 6 the report shows total applications received at 162,100 and the total that have been fully processed as 151,300. This leaves 10,800 applications still in the system as of September 6 (so it may have somewhat reduced by now).
Out of these, 97,000 permanent WA cards had been delivered and 40,800 five-year cards (137,800 combined), the rest of the ‘processed’ applications consisting of duplicates made in error, rejections – thought to be very few – or others that were incomplete or void (eg. because the applicant was not eligible for a card, for example because they are not British or a family member of a British national).
A French decree published on November 19, 2020 sets out that Britons in France need to physically hold a card by October 1 to continue legally living and working in France.
This is despite the fact that France has allowed a tolerance period of three months for final applications since the original deadline of June 30 – which expires on Thursday next week.
Several prefectures have told Britons in emails, and in conversations with a body helping Britons with their applications, that the deadline to hold a card will be extended to January 1, 2022. However, no official confirmation of this has come from the Interior Ministry.
What should you do if you do not have your card?
Make sure that you have to hand your email attestation d’enregistrement that would have been sent when you applied on the site. We suggest printing it out and keeping a copy with you to show if necessary for any formalities where proof of your legal residency is asked for.
It is expected that these will remain acceptable evidence of your legal residency until your card is issued, although this technically remains a grey area legally after October 1, due to lack of official communication on this point from the ministry. We would hope this will be forthcoming in the coming days.
We note that the attestations state in the email: “Mr/Mrs X retains all of his/her rights under the Withdrawal Agreement until his/her request for a carte de séjour has been processed by the prefecture”.
If you have been to the prefecture for an appointment to give a photo and fingerprints then your card should be on the way before long. If however you have yet to be called in we suggest trying to chase up your prefecture (see link here for tips on doing that).
Group for Britons in France raises alarm
The large Rift Facebook group for citizens’ rights has raised the alarm about the situation in a report, saying many respondents in a survey it ran said they are still waiting for their cards and many still have yet to be contacted by their prefecture to go to give their photograph and fingerprints.
Rift is asking France to extend the deadline, saying many areas of life could be affected, such as employment, family or unemployment benefits, banking and insurance, travel, education, residency, and driving licence exchange.
As mentioned above, it is hoped that email receipts received after making the application will continue to suffice as proof of legal residency, but, as with a possible extension to January 1, this has yet to be formally confirmed or officialised with any new decree.
According to the WA deal and French decree, late applications may still be considered in a ‘reasonable’ time after the deadline, if ‘legitimate reasons’ are given for applying late. So far France has not insisted on an explanation for applying late, however it is unknown if officials will still accept any applications more than three months after the original deadline as ‘reasonable’.
The joint committee report states that ‘legitimate grounds’ in France might include cases of force majeure (ie. situations out of your control) such as factors linked to the pandemic (eg.being unable to return to France due to illness or border closures), health problems or professional obligations such as having to stay abroad for work.
It is thought likely that the official website for online WA card applications will close after Thursday next week (September 30), meaning that any British adults in France who moved before this year, or their adult family members who rely on their residency rights – and who do not have a residency right through also holding a EU nationality – are strongly advised to apply before then at the site.
If any later applications are still considered, based on ‘legitimate reasons’, they may have to be made on paper to local prefectures. It is thought this will also apply to others who will become eligible for cards later, such as teenagers approaching age 18 or family members of WA Britons in France who will be joining them in France at a later date.