French senator waits to hear over plea for second-home Britons

Senator for Savoie is arguing for a special status for owners who bought pre-Brexit

Senator Martine Berthet has written a letter to the ministry prior to the immigration law being debated in the Senate from November 6
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A senator is waiting for a reply from the interior minister after asking for a special status to be created for Britons who bought second homes in France before Brexit.

A law on immigration is coming up for debate in the Senate from November 6.

This presents an opportunity for new visa or residency card options to be presented, as well as more curbs. France, not the EU, sets its own rules on these.

Read more: Immigration bill: amendment for non-French second-home owners expected

Senator aims to submit proposed amendments by end of October

Senator Martine Berthet (for Savoie) said in a letter to the ministry that King Charles III’s recent visit could add impetus to the special status idea.

Her office told The Connexion that she is still considering if it is possible to introduce an amendment on this.

“We’re working to be able to submit amendments by the end of October,” an assistant said.

We shared the results of a survey we launched to help her make the case.

Same bill will be debated in November as in March

There has been controversy over the bill, with the government reportedly having concerns over how to pass some pro-immigrant ideas, instead of just toughening rules, as it does not have an absolute majority so needs the support of right-wing opposition MPs.

One idea is to create a new residency card for people coming to fill jobs where there is a problem recruiting workers.

Over the summer, there was talk of work on a new version of the bill, or several smaller ones.

However, it is still the original bill, as amended by the Senate’s laws commission in March, that is on the table eight months on.

Read more: Right maintains majority at the French Senate after new election

Senator Berthet has laid out problems faced by British citizens

In her letter, Ms Berthet said: “As I was elected for a department where British citizens who own second homes participate actively in the dynamism of the local economy, I would like to alert you to the difficulties they are having to get to France.”

She noted the 90/180-day limit or the option of annual visa formalities, a “long procedure, complicated by numerous technical uncertainties – malfunctioning of the TLS Contact website, few available appointments, etc”.

Despite the issue resulting from Brexit, she invited the minister to consider “the unique links that unite our two coun­tries and the importance of these people for the economy”.

In 2020, 86,000 second homes in France were said to be owned by Britons.

‘A simple permit allowing 180 days in a year is enough’

Steven Jolly, founder of the Facebook group France Visa Free, which presses for improved rules for British visitors, said: “It looks as if much will depend on the attitude of the French government.

“Ministerial replies to previous questions on the 90/180 days issue have generally been framed around the Brexit agreement and Schengen rules.

“The senator’s idea is not a perfect solution but it would help put right a defect in the Brexit agreements.

“Second-property owners or long-stay renters were all using freedom of movement rights and, as such, they could have been protected, just as full-time residents were.

“A simple permit allowing visits totalling 180 days in any year would be enough.”

The bill will pass from senators to MPs for debate in December.

How to contact your senator

Earlier this year, Senator Co­rinne Imbert (Charente-Maritime) also told us she plans to introduce an amendment, in this case proposing a five-year visa for foreign second-home owners.

This would allow holders to come for up to six months a year at the time of their choosing.

She has not yet done so, but her office said they will update us in due course.

Contact details for senators can be found here.

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