What is ‘automatic visa right’ backed by French senators for Britons?

The Senate – upper house of parliament – has voted through new proposed rights for Britons who own second homes in France

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France’s upper house of parliament says British second-home owners should have long-stay visa rights in France ‘as of right’ – automatically.

They should, as a result, be exempt from having to make an application for a long-stay visa, says the article the senators have inserted into France’s new immigration bill.

Senators will finish their public debate of the bill on Tuesday November 14 and the bill will then go for debate by the députés (similat to British MPs or US members of Congress) at the Assemblée nationale in December. The bill includes many changes to France’s immigration rules.

What does the automatic visa idea mean?

It means that if a person is British and does not have their main home in France but owns a residential property in France then they should be able to freely come and go from the country, and stay long-term (more than three months) without having to complete paperwork.

This is as opposed to the current situation post-Brexit, which is that British people who are not settled residents of France but want to come for extended stays must undertake complicated and costly long-stay visa formalities both on websites and in person at one of three visa offices in London, Manchester or Edinburgh.

If undertaking this paperwork and proving they have the finances to fund their stay, among other things, they may be given a temporary long-stay visa for a named period, usually four to six months, at the discretion of the French consulate in the UK. The proof of this will be a sticker placed in their passport.

If the ‘automatic visa’ idea is approved then those who qualify by being British and owning a French second home would be granted the right to come to France to spend time at their homes for as long as they like without these prior formalities and without necessarily needing a sticker.

They would, however, need to carry proof of owning a home, details of acceptable paperwork to be described in a future decree.

This could, perhaps, be an attestation of home ownership from the notaire who helped them buy their property, or a recent utility bill.

Note that if anyone has their main residence outside France then any residential property they own and use in France is considered a ‘second’ home, even if it is their only home in France.

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French Senate backs automatic visa right for UK second-home owners