French MPs still trying to ease visa process for second-home owners

Chasing letters to the minister, parliamentary questions - MPs continue to lobby for simpler temporary long-stay visas

Philippe Fait (Pas-de-Calais, Hori­zons) is one of several French MPs who have written to the Interior Minister
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Several French députés (members of parliament) have supported a campaign for easier temporary visas for six-month stays, sending letters to the Interior Minister and lodging written parliamentary questions.

It comes after a proposal for an ‘automatic long-stay visa’ right for British second-home owners was struck out of France’s new immigration law.

Read more: Why France's second-home visa plan was thrown out at last stage

Campaigners want an easier way to apply

Campaigners from the France Visa Free Facebook group, who are mostly British and UK-based and spend part of the year in France, have moved on to asking for easier, internet-based procedures for obtaining a temporary long-stay visa.

They suggest a simple renewal process for people who require the same kind of visa each year (our article covers more of their suggestions).

The temporary visa process is used by non-EU citizens who want to spend more than three months at a time in France without moving on a settled basis

Often, this is to visit a French second home or, for example, to come to tour in a campervan or to travel on a boat.

The campaigners are mostly concerned with simplifications for obtaining visas in the UK from the French authorities, but say that if France can modernise and update its procedures generally, this could help other nationalities as well.

Full process must be repeated for every visa application

The process for a ‘temporary’ visa (typically for a fixed period of six months) is the same as for moving to France: applying on a French government site, creating an account on the site of a third-party contractor to obtain one of a limited number of appointments for an in-person meeting, then travelling to the meeting at one of three UK centres with supporting paperwork, where the applicant must leave their passport.

They must return a few weeks later to collect the passport with the visa sticker, or pay extra for courier return.

The process costs €154 (€184 with courier) and must be repeated in full for subsequent applications, including for fingerprints and photos.

This is more complex than the procedure for residency cards for foreigners in France, which is usually done online.

Read more: Visas for France: how often are they refused and for what reasons?

How are French MPs supporting the campaign

At least three French MPs have written to the ministry, pointing out that the ‘automatic visa’ was struck out for procedural reasons, not for being unconstitutional, and drawing attention to the difficulties still being faced by many Britons in spending extended periods at their homes, beyond what is possible under the EU’s 90/180-days rule.

They include Philippe Fait, Philippe Lottiaux (Var, RN) and Bertrand Sorre (Manche, LR).

In his letter, Mr Fait (Pas-de-Calais, Hori­zons) said: “The current experience causes frustration and complexity that could be reduced by these improvement proposals.”

He told The Connexion: “I’ve now made several applications to the ministry to alert them to these issues, and am still waiting for a concrete reply from them. I’m following this closely and chase it up very regularly.”

Written questions have, meanwhile, been tabled by Mr Lottiaux, Stéphane Travert (Manche, Renaissance), who said simplifications would “help the entente cordiale”, Véronique Besse (Vendée, independent), Christine Engrand (Pas-de-Calais, RN), Hélène Laporte (Lot-et-Garonne, LR) and Nicolas Forissier (Les Républicains, Indre).

David Taupiac (Gers, LIOT – centrists) called the current process “tiresome and excessive, rendered even more arduous by technical bugs on the sites”.

Some of these MPs have also asked whether the government will consider bringing back the ‘automatic long-stay visa’ idea.

Easier process could help other nationalities too

France Visa Free founder Steven Jolly said “it is clear there is traction on this issue in France”, adding that easier visa procedures could also help other nationalities, such as Australians or Americans who report similar difficulties.

France Visa Free is also calling on British MPs to ask the UK’s Foreign Office to use diplomatic channels to help simplify the process, reminding them that France and the UK mark 120 years since the Entente Cordiale agreement this month.

To find your French MP search here.

Olympic athletes and officials get visa appointment in 24 hours

It comes as France has created a special free visa process for athletes, Olympic officials, donors and patrons who hold an Olym­pic Games ‘accreditation card’.

As part of applying for this card, people of nationalities needing a visa to visit France will ask for visa assistance.

They can then visit any French consulate in the world, or branch of contractors such as TLS-Contact or VFS Global, for a fingerprint scan and a photograph of their passport.

At VFS, it will be on a drop-in basis; TLS will guarantee an appointment in 24 hours.

The visa number will be printed on their accreditation card with no need to give up their passport during the process.

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