French residency permit delays: examples of problems faced

Readers share their experiences with some having to move home because of delays in the process

Man looking frustrated sitting at his laptop
Many readers have recounted their frustrating experiences renewing their carte de séjour
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A recent Connexion story about delays in the process of applying for and renewing French residency permits caused a lot of reader reaction. Many people told us of their personal experiences of delays and frustration at the process.

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

We have replaced readers’ names with initials to protect their privacy. 

Could be forced to sell up 

“Weirdly, I have not experienced any delay, however, my wife is still awaiting a decision nine months on from submitting her most recent application,” wrote reader N C.

“We have followed up by email and at the Vannes office in person, only to be told her application is fine, and “we have nothing to explain the delay, you just have to wait. 

“The office has recently extended her old permit, which now expires at the end of August. This is when the window for her next application begins, however, as you are probably aware, she cannot apply until the previous application is finalised. If her application is not resolved in time, like others we will be forced to consider selling up and returning to Australia.” 

‘Causing nightmares for many people’

“This issue is causing nightmares for many people like me and stalling many of our plans,” wrote reader S M, an assistant professor at a business school in northern France.

Mr M moved to France in October 2019 with his wife and child through Passport Talent. 

“We were issued a four-year Passport Talent carte de séjour, which was set to expire on December 24, 2023. We submitted our application at the end of September 2023 through the ANEF platform and were confident at the time of submission as neither my employment, nor the address, nor the family composition had changed in four years. While I received an attestation de prolongation d'instruction [editor’s note – a certificate of extension given to people while their permit is being processed], my wife did not receive any document, and our emails to prefectures and applications on ANEF remained unanswered. 

Mr M describes how his local prefecture blamed yet another delay on a “malfunctioning IT system” and despite much chasing up between February and May, he received no answer. 

He was finally given a date, May 29, to collect his carte de séjour, but was then told he could not be given the card due to IT glitches. He has not heard anything since. 

“Here I am, out of options, wondering which door to knock on,” he says. “It is frustrating to see that a country that prides itself on humanitarian values is generating a flux of undocumented immigrants, and this is happening under the nose of authorities who seem to be unbothered by unsettling the lives of so many applicants like me.”

‘I assume my replies are being dealt with by some AI bot’

Reader K H moved to France in October 2021 with a year’s visa and applied for a carte de séjour, which she received by October 2022. 

The problem came when she wanted to reapply in July 2023. By October, she had received no decision, so emailed and asked for an attestation de prolongation d'instruction

“I sent about half a dozen, maybe more, emails asking for an attestation. I got the same rephrasing of my emails in reply, except for when I specifically asked them not to just repeat what I'd said; then I got no reply,” she said.

In January, she was finally issued with an attestation and received an email saying she would be informed when she could pick up her carte de séjour. Since then, she had heard nothing. 

“Two things I find particularly annoying are there doesn’t seem to be any automatic system for sending the attestation at the point the old carte expires and I don’t know why not, given that delays are so common. The second is the pointlessness of most of the replies I had, which leads me to assume they are being dealt with by some AI bot and not a human.”

“I’m only affected in terms of worry but I have a history of anxiety and stress… the uncertainty I’ve experienced does not help me one bit,” Ms H says. 


“I am an Irish citizen and my husband is British. I applied for my carte de séjour and went for fingerprinting at the end of November. They then asked for a document translation in January, which I submitted on January 9 and I am still waiting,” says C R in Charente Maritime. 

“My husband was called for fingerprinting in February and he is still waiting,” she says. 

‘Living under this constant uncertainty is hard’

“I guess it’s comforting to know I’m not the only one with problems,” says E D, who is applying for her carte de séjour for the sixth year. 

“For the past few years it has been a struggle to stay legal. I always send my application in plenty of time, they ask for extra documents… I send what they request. Last year they sent me a récépissé (application receipt) relatively quickly, but this year I haven’t received one yet. 

“I’m travelling to the US on June 26 and my titre expires on June 15 and I believe that I’m not supposed to travel without a valid titre.” 

“I really enjoy living in France but I have to say that living under this constant uncertainty is hard.”

20-month wait 

Reader S A waited 20 months for her carte de séjour renewal in Nice. She ended up spending thousands of euros on a lawyer to help her with the application process but still faced huge delays and worry. 

“From September 29, 2022 until May 2024 I received no communication from the Nice Prefecture, nor was my visa status account online updated with any information. In these 20 months, I submitted multiple online inquiry forms through the Nice Prefecture website and submitted six plus emails directly to the Nice Prefecture,” she says. 

“It wasn’t until May 2024 that I received a response from the Nice Prefecture only to tell me that my original auto-entrepreneur visa was approved, but I never received an SMS to alert me. So, my approved documentation sat for more than one year without me knowing.”

Ms A says her story illustrates several issues with the French system:

  • “A complete lack of status communication either accessible via my account online or from administration directly

  • Unreliable single channel of communication with sending SMS messages when they have an email and phone number for each person on file

  • Unacceptable processing times of applications

  • Applicants are refused at the physical gate without proof of an SMS message”

17-month wait 

Reader S K applied for a replacement carte de séjour using a company in January 2023. 

“I received an email to confirm my application had been received and as such can use the email as proof of application. Since then I have asked the company to contact them on several occasions as I have not heard a single thing regarding my application. It has now been 17 months and I still have not received any notification of when I will receive my card,” he says. 

‘I will probably have to stop driving’

“I am caught in the extremely difficult position of being unable to get my French driving licence, as they informed me (after four months’ wait) that I had to renew my titre de séjour as my name was incorrect. My card had my married name, and should have had my birth name,” says S B-H. 

“It has now passed the deadline to send a copy of my replacement card, so I will now have to restart the process of applying for my driving licence again, when I eventually receive my new carte de séjour. This means I will probably have to stop driving in the next month, as my UK licence will be invalid.” 

“The person I met with at the prefecture told me there are many British women who have incorrect titre de séjour cards, as we are not accustomed to using our birth name on such documents

This is not an easy system to navigate, and extremely stressful, mostly as there is no way of contacting anyone by phone to find out the status of your application.” 

'Very poor service'

“I really am sorry to say, although a lover of France, the bureaucracy issuing cartes de séjour is a very poor service indeed,” says M L.

“I suspect (the problem) is because of public sector cuts, cutting administration and back office staff and moving to online services.

‘Forcing us to leave our home’ 

“Following my visa renewal application on November 9, 2023, when my wife and I submitted our joint bank statements for the last three months as we did last year, the prefecture accepted them for both of us and renewed the two visas,” says L R. 

“However, this year we submitted the exact same documents – the Perpignan prefecture office accepted my wife's documents in December, but continued to tell me they were not acceptable to the French government and continued to ask for more and more information.” 

Mr R eventually got a temporary stay until August, but was then told documents he had sent were unacceptable 

“They started asking for documents which they know well that I do not have and documents that are kept in the UK for legal reasons, relating to the leases of our rental properties.

“I have already gone 94 days without any form of residency, I will officially return to the UK on June 13, 2024 and therefore all my tax obligations. I will be returning to the UK,” he said. 

‘You feel totally powerless’ 

Reader J F moved to France in 2022 with her partner, both on visitor visas. 

“I started the renewal process last June 23. I applied to change mine to a business visa, which seemed to go well at first. I visited my prefecture in Niort and was given a récépissé. That expired in February and I have had zero contact since, despite three emails, an application online and a visit to France Services. Technically I should be starting the renewal for this year and I haven’t even received last years yet!” 

“This is a stressful situation that you feel powerless to resolve.”