Would this Italian residency visa drama happen in France?

A Brexit-voting couple struggle with visas to move to their dream home in Italy - we look at how the French system differs

France and Italy use different criteria to issue residency cards
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A British newspaper article about a Brexit-voting couple who can no longer follow their dream of moving permanently to their £13,000 (€15,000) Italian second home was widely shared on social media – but would it happen in France?

A couple in their 60s told the i of their disappointment at failing to obtain visas, saying “we were told Brexit was not going to impact our life abroad; it would be just a matter of formality”.

They said they were told they needed to show income of €38,000/year and that savings did not count.

They attempted several applications, costing £200 each time, and “hassle of having to liaise with third-party companies”.

Read more: Court rules EU rights of Britons in France were lost due to Brexit

Savings and home-ownership considered in France

As for France, couples moving to the country post-Brexit initially pay about £220 and must complete an online application then book to take paperwork to a third-party contractor at one of three UK offices.

You need to show income equal to France’s net minimum wage of €1,383/month, or €16,214/year. Official websites are vague as to how this applies to couples, though one visa expert told us they are usually asked for slightly more.

Official sources previously confirmed to us that couples are not asked to have double the amount. The amount needed was also said to depend on individual factors, with home-ownership being a positive factor.

Savings can also be taken into account to reduce the amount of income needed, but the overall amount available should be enough to have a ‘decent’ and ‘autonomous’ life.

France, therefore, appears more flexible than Italy, though it remains difficult for low-income pensioners to move over as they could pre-Brexit.

Read more: Non-EU citizen visiting rules ‘more restrictive’ in Spain than France

What campaigners said before the Brexit vote

Prior to the Brexit referendum, Vote Leave told The Connexion: “There are large sections of the Spanish or French economy relying on people retiring there, bringing pensions and investments. So the idea they will suddenly say ‘we don’t want that British money’ is not likely.”

One leading figure in the campaign, Lord Lawson, who later applied for residency at his French home before selling up and leaving, said: “There’s no reason to believe retirees wouldn’t be able to live in France or Spain or Italy if they wish to, just as there are large numbers of French, for example, living in the UK…

“There may be some extra slight complications, such as more forms to fill in.”

Meanwhile, a Stronger In spokes­man said Britons’ future rights in the case of Brexit were unclear, but free movement, which the Leave campaign disliked in the in-bound direction, was a “two-way street”.

He said: “It is clear that if EU citizens cannot live in Britain as freely as they can now, it’s unlikely other countries will say ‘that’s fine, but we’ll reciprocate by continuing to do everything as we’ve done for years’.”

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