Flurry of new MP bids to ease visits to second homes in France

New bill amendments either call to bring back Senator Martine Berthet's 'automatic visa' idea or a version of it proposed by MP Alexandre Holroyd

The MPs are debating the immigration bill this week
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Almost a quarter of French MPs have put their names to one or another of 20 new amendments helping non-resident second-home owners spend more time in France.

Some 135 individual MPs have backed the amendments, which does not mean that other MPs in the house may not also vote for the ideas.

It comes as France’s immigration bill starts debate by MPs, with the issue of giving residency cards to illegal immigrants already working in under-pressure sectors among the more controversial ideas.

Lobbying of MPs by Britons, especially by members of the France Visa Free facebook group, and our many previous articles on the issues appear to have had an impact in raising the profile of the second-home owner issue.

Initially Senator Martine Berthet had put in an amendment to the bill to help with this when the bill started its journey through parliament in the Senate (French upper house of parliament).

Read more: Second-home Britons urged to ask their French MP for visa plan support

Her amendment, which called for an automatic visa right for British second-home owners to visit their homes, without having to apply for this, was rejected by the MPs’ laws commission during an initial vetting of the bill last week, however many other MPs have now brought back versions of it before the full MP’s debate that started today.

Ms Berthet’s amendment had been inserted in the bill by the Senate as article 1er K, and some 20 new amendments by MPs now propose putting this article back again in one of two forms.

Some amendments duplicate Ms Berthet’s wording.

The others are based on wording which had been put forward by Alexandre Holroyd, MP for the French overseas (Renaissance) at the laws commission stage.

Mr Holroyd, backed by 46 other MPs, has resubmitted his idea, as he previously told us he was looking to do.

Read more: MP – I will resubmit a new proposal to ease visits to second homes

His amendment calls for an automatic visa right for British people and British residents and spouses of French people living in the UK, who already owned a second-home in France as of January 1, 2021 (when Brexit was implemented).

We note that it does not spell out explicitly, as Ms Berthet’s proposal did, that the visa right should be obtained without having to apply for it.

MP explained why he supports Mr Holroyd's plan

One of the MPs who put his name to this amendment, Philippe Fait (Pas-de-Calais, Horizons) said: "We, on the Côte d'Opale, are especially concerned by the presence of British people, including a large number of second-home owners, and we have been approached several times by some of these owners who find themselves in difficulties now with the administrative procedures so as to be able to come and spend time in France."

The amendments aim at easing the current situation, whereby the homeowners, most of whom bought before Brexit when they could come freely, are now subject to coming for 90 days maximum unless they undertake complex visa formalities.

Their only current option is a 'temporary long-stay visa' which would have to be applied for every time they want to come for a stay of more than 90 days. This includes online procedures as well as visiting one of three visa centres across the UK with supporting paperwork.

Mr Fait, whose party is part of the Majority, added: "I think many colleagues are also concerned, since there aren't only British homeowners in the Pas-de-Calais, there are many in the south-west for example."

He said they had chosen to closely define the group who would benefit "so as to avoid people just buying homes now so as to benefit from these rights".

France Visa Free founder Steven Jolly told The Connexion he views this amendment as a "step in the right direction" though he prefers the wider wording from Ms Berthet.

"If [either amendment is] successful the campaign led by France Visa Free will have achieved some change; change that some thought we would not secure," he said.

The group would ideally wish to see easier visiting extended to all Britons and has previously called attention to the fact that, under UK immigration law, French and other EU citizens can already to to the UK for stays of up to six months in a row without formalities.

Read more

Update on plan to ease second-home visits, and sample MP letter

'We must help ease 90/180 rule for owners of French second homes'