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Confusion over time extension for Britons’ residency cards in France

Prefectures and French officials say deadline extended by three months but British Embassy says this has not been confirmed to the embassy and that people who have not applied must do so now 

Clarification is awaited after French officials told The Connexion this week (June 24) that a three-month extension to the deadline for Britons’ residency card applications was being put in place - but the British Embassy stated it has not had confirmation of an extension.

Several French prefectures have also announced the extension and a support body helping Britons struggling to make their applications said it was aware and ready to give help during that extra period.

It comes as Luxembourg announced an extension of its June 30 deadline, to December 31 and the Netherlands recently extended its June 30 deadline to October 1. 

However, France has not yet followed through with official public announcements or legal changes to put the three-month extension in place.

France, Latvia and Malta are now the only countries to have a June 30 deadline for applying for obligatory cards. The others are all later or do not require Britons living there to apply for a card to benefit from the WA deal in order to maintain legal residency.

The Connexion will report when clarification comes on the issue in the coming days as the original deadline of June 30 approaches.

In the meantime Britons are advised by the British Embassy not to put off applications. On June 11, 146,912 applications by adult Britons in France had been made, figures from the Interior Ministry state. No official figures for how many Britons live in France and are eligible exist.

The official legal position remains at present as stated in a French decree of November 19, 2020 which lists June 30 as the application deadline and states that all Britons concerned must hold a card by October 1, 2021.

All Britons who were living in France by December 31 last year are obliged to apply for one of the new Withdrawal Agreement residency cards in order to maintain a legal right to live and work in France.

The Withdrawal Agreement, and the decree which put its dispositions on residency into French law, says that after the deadline has passed additional applications submitted within a ‘reasonable’ time should be studied on a case by case basis to see if there were ‘reasonable’ grounds for not having applied on time.

Here is a timeline of what has happened so far.

June 24

The prefecture of the Côtes d’Armor in Brittany put information on its website stating: "It has been decided to put off the deadline for applying for a Withdrawal Agreement residency card to September 30. During this extra period applications will be able to continue to be made online at the residency cards website. The site will therefore remain operational for longer as a consequence. All applications will be processed."

It also stated on the same page: “British citizens and their family members already living in France before January 1, 2021 will benefit from the dispositions agreed in the WA and will be issued with specific residency cards which they must apply for before September 30, 2021,” but still, confusingly, said: “They will only be obliged to have a residency card from October 1, 2021.”

We note that if the September 30 date is set in law in a decree, then the October 1 date (which is as previously announced) will also have to be changed in consequence, as it is not possible to apply for and obtain a card in one day.

The information was picked up by the campaign coalition British in Europe, which stated on its Facebook page: “We have been campaigning heavily over recent weeks for a delay to the deadlines and are delighted that this looks as though it may be about to happen in France. Thousands of people are at risk of losing their rights simply because they did not know they needed to apply, having heard the promises that their lives would not change after Brexit. This delay will allow more people to be reached and save families being split apart.” 

The Connexion contacted a senior spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry’s section for the entry and residency of foreigners, about the announcement.

The spokeswoman confirmed that it was correct, and said all prefectures had been informed of the decision to extend.

“We have put off the date off from June 30 and are giving this leeway in order to make sure all of the latecomers can get their applications in on time,” she said, confirming that the website for card applications would now remain open until at least September 30.

We reported on the extension, as did other media such as The Guardian

The British Embassy, however, stated on its Facebook page on June 24 that “the situation as communicated to the Embassy by the Ministry of the Interior today is that the deadline remains June 30.” It therefore urged people to apply as soon as possible.

In a follow-up call to the ministry, The Connexion was told that the legal details of the extension had not yet been put into an official decree, but that this was expected shortly.

In answer to an email query from The Connexion about the announced extension, the president of the Franco-British Network FBN, one of the bodies funded by the British government to support Britons with their residency applications, said: “We will be active as normal to the end of September.”

A Twitter user shared an email from the prefecture of the Creuse, which confirmed that “the deadline for submitting applications for Britons’ residency cards has been put off to September 30”.

Friday June 25

FBN emailed its contacts stating: “We understand that the deadline to submit an online application for a WA residency permit will be extended by three months to September 30. We are awaiting for the French authorities to officially confirm this information and write it into law.”

The vice-chairman of the British Community Committee of France, Christopher Chantrey, told The Connexion he also believes it likely that wider official communication of an extension is awaiting a decree changing the dates. He said the prefecture of the Pyrénées-Orientales has also confirmed the extension in emails and he said it is good news if it enables as many Britons as possible to obtain their cards.

The prefecture of the Côtes d’Armor told The Connexion it was preparing a press release on the issue which would probably be available ‘at the start of next week’.

British in Europe shared a tweet in which a Briton stated the prefecture of the Somme in Amiens had told him of the extension. British in Europe stated this is now the fourth prefecture in France it has heard of which has referred to this.

The website of the Côtes d’Armor was edited to remove references to the extension.

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