French residency permit delays at prefecture: what can you do?

Delays are causing stress and worry for many foreigners in France

Man frustrated looking at laptop
Delays are over a year in some cases
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Campaigners and Connexion readers have highlighted the issue of French residency permit delays.

These are causing stress and worry, with some people wondering if they will have to leave France once their residency permit has expired. 

We asked experts for advice and to dispel some myths about the delays. 

What to do if your French residency renewal application is late 

Check your notifications

Notifications from ANEF, the website where you apply for residency permits and renewals, can sometimes go to your spam folder. 

“If you don’t respond, it could delay the file,” Tracy Leonetti, an expert in relocating to France, whose firm LBS helps many foreigners with their residency renewals, tells the Connexion

“Sometimes they ask for updated or translated documents so my advice is to check for notifications because if after a while you have not responded they will close the file.”

Read more: French residency permit delays spark protest - how long should it take?

Keep your proof of application safe and use if travelling 

One worry for many of those whose renewals are delayed is whether or not they will be able to travel outside France on an expired titre de séjour

“People worry about that a lot, but you are not illegal because the prefecture is late,” says Ms Leonetti. 

“If the prefecture is late, and they are a lot, then just make sure you have your file, and the proof you have submitted the file when you travel.” 

“Once you’ve got your application confirmation, you’re not going to have a problem travelling,” Haywood Wise, an immigration lawyer based in Paris, tells the Connexion

Request an attestation de prolongation d'instruction

“Those who are delayed by several months can request an attestation de prolongement from the ANEF website, and can do that as many times as they need to do it,” Ms Leonetti said. 

This can be requested once your renewal is overdue. 

Don’t panic

“So long as you have put the request for renewal application in before the right deadline then the prefecture not you is at fault,” she added. “You are not at fault if you have proof that your file is in progress”. 

“People are not required to leave the country because the prefecture is late with the file, as long as it was submitted before the renewal date.” 

Mr Wise states, “the main thing I can advise is for people to relax. Even if their titre de séjour expires, if they have their confirmation de depot (proof of submission), they should be ok.” 

“For UK or US citizens and those from OECD member countries, their ability to travel is not really going to be hampered by the fact that they do not have a titre de séjour in hand,” he concludes. 

Send emails 

Many people have complained that their emails often get no response, but it is still worth sending them, experts say. 

“There is nothing to stop you sending an email to the prefecture. They may not respond but that does not mean they will not see your email and deal with your file,” Ms Leonetti says. 

But try not to badger the prefecture, “send an email maybe every month rather than every day,” she advises. 

Go to the prefecture in person 

Connexion reader Stephanie Ayars discovered her titre de séjour had been sitting at her local prefecture for almost a year because she did not receive the text message informing her it was ready. 

“That often happens,” Ms Leonetti says. “We tell clients that if it has been a long time, perhaps six months, go to the prefecture with your ID to check, sometimes the permit is there.”

Having been through this situation Ms Ayars would advise the same. 

“It might be worth a try just going in person and trying to get any answers,” she says. 

Read more: French residency permit delays: examples of problems faced

Tips for when you apply 

Ms Leonetti says one of her top pieces of advice is to put your file in four months before the expiry date on the residency permit. 

“A lot of the advice online is two months but in our experience four months is better,” she says. 

Why are there delays?

Ms Leonetti says many prefectures have yet to catch up with backlogs that started during Covid. A lack of staff and an increase of requests at many prefectures are also contributing to delays. 

Can you take legal action?

This is very much a case by case basis, says lawyer Mr Wise. 

“You would need to prove some kind of urgency, or some kind of prejudice,” he says, such as being fired from your job, facing the threat of losing your job or suffering from a medical problem. However your current titre de séjour expiring would not qualify. 

Read more: Did you know? France has a team ready to defend foreigners' rights