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165,400 Britons in France have applied for Brexit residency cards

The Interior Ministry maintains a target to have all cards which were applied for by October 3 on the dedicated website delivered by January 1

A representative of the British Community Committee of France said she is not convinced that all prefectures will ensure every card applied for on the site will be in people’s hands by January 1 Pic: Thomas Dekiere / Shutterstock

Some 165,400 requests have now been made for Withdrawal Agreement (WA) residency cards for Britons living in France.

The Interior Ministry did not confirm rules for people applying by paper to prefectures since then but any Britons doing so in person would usually receive a récépissé slip that can be shown as proof of application.

It is still possible for requests to be made if there are good reasons for missing the October 3 deadline.

Applications can also still be made by young people turning 18 and family members of WA Britons joining them in France.

Holding a WA residency card is an obligation from January 1 under French law, but one clause (article 27) states that rights to residency, work and social security continue without a card if a decision has yet to be made by a prefecture or if an appeal is under way. Even so, a group for Britons in France and an association helping foreigners spoke of concerns for the legal situation of those without a card on January 1.

A representative of the British Community Committee of France said she is not convinced that all prefectures will ensure every card applied for on the site will be in people’s hands by January 1.

She advised those affected to keep a file of evidence that they have done everything they can, such as a copy of their application, the email response from the prefecture, any follow-up emails sent or received or a recent utility bill for proof of ongoing residency. This will represent what customs call a ‘trail of evidence’, she said.

Where one half of a couple is waiting for delivery of a card, the other person can apply to La Poste for a proxy right so they may accept the card for them if the postal worker calls with it while their partner is out.

The British Embassy advises those who have not had a prefecture meeting for photo and fingerprints, or have not got the card, to contact their prefecture by checking its website.

list of contacts is also available here, but may not be fully up to date.

Sending a lettre recommandée avec avis de réception recorded delivery letter is another option. If you do not obtain a response, email the Interior Ministry – contact-brexit@interieur.gouv.fr – and inform the embassy. If you are offered a prefecture appointment, attend if possible, as rescheduling may be difficult.

If your application is refused, consider appealing.

Antoine Math, of Gisti, an association helping foreign people, said showing an application receipt should suffice legally for those still waiting.

However, he said bodies often have set lists of acceptable documents and it is unclear if they will be familiar with the email print-outs that are the only receipt given to those who applied on the WA cards website, as opposed to the paper récépissé usually given to foreign carte de séjour applicants by prefectures.

He is concerned for Britons’ working and social security benefit rights if they have no card, as existing and potential employers might ask for them, as well as bodies such as the family benefit service Caf.

“The risk is being cut off from family and housing benefits or income support,” he said.

“We may also imagine that there are people who’ve been here 30 years and are very integrated and haven’t been following the Brexit rules, and are going to find themselves next year undocumented immigrants, with the risk of being expelled from France, though we’re not there yet.”

Mr Math said Britons, especially newcomers, are going to have to get used to dealing with prefectures, whose treatment of foreigners can be very variable around France.

“There’s a lot of inequality, and before the British escaped that, but now they’ll be treated the same as a Senegalese person – that’s to say, badly, with complicated procedures and dubious practices.”

Britons can seek advice from Gisti, but it also advises contacting local associations helping foreigners.

He added: “States have the right to leave the EU, but the problem is individuals taken hostage and suffering due to it.

“But it’s also not normal that foreigners are not treated well compared to EU citizens.”

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