French no-deal rules 'not equal' to UK's - ambassador

The ambassador speaks at the National Assembly

The French offer in terms of residency rights of Britons in France in the case of a no-deal is not equal in some areas to what is being offered by the UK for EU citizens, the British Ambassador has said.

Speaking at a hearing at the National Assembly's Foreign Affairs Commission last week the ambassador, Edward Llewellyn, said: “Although we are grateful for the [French government's] wishes that the British should remain in France and the praise that has been given for their contributions they make here in France, as the French make contributions in the UK, there are detailed questions that worry us.

“We think that in those areas the French offer, frankly, doesn’t equal what we are offering to the French in the UK.”

The ambassador said notably Britons in France would be required to apply for a carte de séjour or de resident within six months of Brexit day - which he thought was not enough - and to obtain one within a year.

He said on the other hand EU citizens living in the UK before a no-deal Brexit day would have until the end of 2020 to acquire the new UK equivalent, called 'settled status'  [this UK government website says they have until December 31, 2020 to ‘apply’].

He said also the French laws have requirements on levels of income and a requirement to show healthcare cover, that are not required to be shown for the UK scheme.

“They worry my fellow British citizens here in France,” he said. “Many of them are here with few financial means but are not asking for social welfare.”

The issues have been coming up at the outreach meetings that the Embassy has organised around France for Britons, he said.

The ambassador added that the UK had removed any requirement for a means test and Germany has also done this. There was therefore “a gap” between what the UK, and certain other EU countries, are offering, and what France is offering, he said.

He added: “I want to underline that we cooperate very closely with our French colleagues and I am very grateful that my colleagues at the Interior Ministry and from the prefectures in a number of regions have attended the [outreach] meetings with us to try to respond to these issues.”

He said he hoped it would be possible to improve the situation for Britons in France.

The ambassador said the official figure of Britons in France was 152,000, however they think the real figure is probably much higher and in the hundreds of thousands.

His speech on rights can be found here and the full hearing at the National Assembly is here

The UK system of settled status is a new status created by the UK in the context of Brexit to regularise the situation of EU citizens living abroad in the UK. As with EU citizens living abroad in France, such as British people, they had up to now not been required to undertake any registration process or obtain any form of residency document.

The French no-deal arrangements involve British people being required to obtain one of several kinds of existing 'third country' (non-EU) citizens' residency cards, but with lightened formalities in comparison to what is usually required for ordinary third country citizens who come to live in France.

They are lightened notably in terms of lower-than-usual income limits and fewer documents required to prove continuity of residency, and for those eligible for the long-term resident card there would be no language test or requirement to sign an ‘integration contract’ agreeing to abide by Republican values.

People on disability benefits do not have to show means and if someone does not meet the levels but lives in a property free of charge or is a homeowner it may be waived on a case by case basis. As the Britons are already established in France the usual requirement for third country citizens to have a visa before having a residency card is also waived.

The French decree allows for a simple swap for the long-term resident card [a recognised EU status with a strong protection of residency rights and certain limited EU free movement rights] for those Britons who have already obtained a ‘permanent’ residency card as EU citizens (carte de séjour – séjour permanent) after five years of legal, continuous residency in France. This card is also available to others able to show the same period of legal residency and, on the same terms, after totalling five years in France for those who initially obtain other cards.

The French prime minister recently stated that a new website would open this month for British people’s residency card applications, with the aim that the application may be done online with one visit only to a prefecture, expected to be mainly to pay a fee and to provide fingerprints.

Previous articles

Decree sets out no-deal rules for Britons in France 

Less paperwork for no-deal cards in France 

French carte de séjour site for Britons to launch 

Britons can apply for a French residency card online (paywall / subscribers) 

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