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Can my elderly mother staying with me in France get a carte de séjour?

We look at the residency rules for dependent relatives and the procedure they must follow 

We look at France’s residency rules for the close family members of existing residents Pic: pikselstock / Shutterstock

Reader Question: I am trying to arrange for my elderly mother to live with us in France. I am a British national with a 10-year Withdrawal Agreement carte de séjour and my husband is a Dutch national. 

Mum came to stay in June, and I have been trying since July to get an appointment at the Préfecture de la Charente in Angoulême. This has proved impossible despite numerous emails, phone calls and even a desperate visit. Intervention by the local France Services office has also failed to elicit a response. 

Her UK travel/medical insurance runs out next week as does her three-month stay in France without visa or carte de séjour and she will have to go back to the UK. Mum is a frail 87, has reduced mobility and can no longer live independently. 

Is there anything I can do? 

Your mother should have the right to live with you under the terms of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (WA) if she is dependent on you. 

She may also be allowed to come and live in France as a family member of your husband, who is an EU citizen due to his Dutch nationality. This applies whether or not she is dependent on you.

People are classed as the family members of EU citizens if the foreign person is their: 

  • Spouse or registered partner
  • Parent and the EU citizen is both under 21 and dependent on their parent
  • Child under 21 (or child under 21 of spouse) 
  • Dependent descendant – child or grandchild – or ancestor – parent or grandparent 
  • Dependent descendant or ancestor of the spouse of the EU citizen

This can be seen to be true in your case, and so your mother should have a legitimate right to residency with you in France. 

Applying for residency 

The normal route towards residency as a family member of an EU citizen (eg. your husband) is for the relative to obtain a special free ‘family members’ carte de séjour from a prefecture in France once they have arrived, within the first three months. 

A dependent parent of a WA beneficiary living in France also does not need to come on a visa to join them under the WA, unless they are of a nationality normally requiring a visa for short-term trips to France (which is not the case for Britons).

Applying for a WA card

In this situation, however, normally the person should then apply to the local prefecture for a WA residency card, as soon as possible after coming so as to avoid overstaying beyond their 90 days without securing their WA rights.

This poses the problem that you say that your mother’s 90 days is about to expire.

The process will also require you to provide proof of her dependency on you.

According to one of the administrators of the Rift Facebook group, which defends rights of Britons in France, Justine Wallington, the WA section on family members relies on an EU law which does not provide a very specific definition of what constitutes dependency. 

However she said they have generally found that “long-term financial dependency is better accommodated by the free movement directive - therefore also by the WA - than physical or medical dependency.”

Having said that, she said that the French decree which put the WA rules into French law, is more helpful, for example, stating in article 3 that one reason for a family member to come is if they “urgently need personal help from the WA Briton for serious medical reasons”. The wording of the French decree also more generally refers to “dependent direct ancestors”.

So, rather than the legal right of your mother to stay, the main issue now could be the time and paperwork required to secure your mother’s status in France under these dependency rules, whether financial and/or due to physical and medical issues.

In some cases where a person subject to the 90 days rule finds themselves unable to leave due to unforeseen circumstances, it is possible to apply to a prefecture to extend the stay for up to 180 days. Illness is one reason that could be given for this. 

The application in this case is for an autorisation provisoire de séjour (temporary right to stay).

Read more: What happens if I cannot help but overstay my 90 days in France?

If this is granted, this may give you the time to work out a plan for applying for the WA residency card.

However, if you are struggling to establish contact with your prefecture, we advise that – considering the urgency of the situation – you get in touch with the British embassy or an immigration lawyer. 

These may be able to step in and help you. 

A visa application process can be undertaken online, but supporting documents must then be submitted at a TLS Contact visa handling centre. These are located in London, Manchester and Edinburgh. Normally the person in question also has to be in the UK for this, as they must submit their passport for the visa to be placed in it.

Residency card applications for WA cards for family members are still on paper to prefectures, although many kinds of French residency card application can now be done online at this site and the French government had stated its intention to place all card applications online this year.

Some prefectures have created forms for this, others just provide a list of supporting documents. In view of a recent French legal ruling, it is likely to remain possible to apply directly to prefectures on paper, even if the process is also placed online.

Read more: Explainer: Long-stay French visas serving as residence permits

Read more: How can I prove I have necessary funds for a French long-stay visa?

Related articles 

Are there Schengen rule exemptions to help care for elderly relatives?

Travel and health coverage: How do I get French equivalent of Ehic?

Can non-EU residents access French retirement homes?

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