I applied months ago for my new Brexit residency card – how long should it take? Should I be chasing it up and if so how?
As frustrating as it may seem, the answer is that it varies from one prefecture to another, depending on factors such as staffing levels. The general advice is to avoid chasing up applications at present if possible, unless there is an error in your application.
People’s experiences have differed widely. The Dordogne department, for example, has a dedicated ‘Brexit building’ for dealing with Withdrawal Agreement (WA) residency cards. There the first cards went out in November. Those were to people who had applied in late 2019 on the short-lived website for a ‘no-WA deal’ scenario. So far the Dordogne has sent out 3,532 new WA deal residency cards.
However, people in the Alpes-Maritimes, who applied on the new website when it opened in October, have been contacted only recently and given appointments in April.
Meanwhile some organisations funded by the UK government to help Britons with their applications report that even people that applied on the ‘no-deal’ website have not heard from certain prefectures yet.
But there is good news: they report that numbers of people receiving appointments – and cards – are picking up as the prefectures get into their stride.
Experiences of several Britons so far suggests that following up an application via the general email address on the new applications portal is inefficient. The important aspect is whether the dossier has been forwarded to, and is being processed by, your own local prefecture (which you will have selected when you applied on the site).
However at present it is advisable to only chase up your application via your prefecture if there is an error with your application or with a card they have sent.
Zoe Webster of the Church of England’s Diocese in Europe, one of the funded helping bodies, said people should not be anxious.
“It’s a bit of a lottery as to whether you will have heard or not and people shouldn’t be worried if they haven’t. All the prefectures just have different processing times and some started a lot earlier than others.
“The Interior Ministry has given feedback that as long as people applied and received an acknowledgment email, they really shouldn’t chase prefectures for updates just because they’ve heard on the grapevine that other people have had appointments or cards.
“Understandably people are curious after waiting a few months, but it just takes up prefecture admin time away from actually processing cases.”
She added: “Some of the prefectures, once they get going, really do churn the cards out. Covid hasn’t helped because there are limits on how many people can be in the room at a time.”
If however you have not heard anything by mid-spring, for example, and are still worried and want to contact your prefecture you should consult its website and find a specific contact email for the service des étrangers.
Ask them in French if they are dealing with your application, submitted via the website for British people’s cards (Est-ce que vous traitez mon dossier que j’ai deposé sur le site pour les titres de séjour des Britanniques).
Include your full name (including maiden name if you are a married woman) and the dossier number allocated in the original attestation d’enregistrement email from the Interior Ministry.
Note that the prefecture will allocate your dossier a new number, called a GED, when they contact you directly to offer an appointment.
Ms Webster said their biggest challenge is reaching those Britons who still do not know they need to apply.
“We are still having to tell people that you need to apply, even if they already have a permanent carte de séjour [issued under the EU citizen rules]. We are also trying to get the message to those who are more isolated and not online.
“We hope people will spread the word to other UK nationals in their areas who are not yet in the know.”