Will France's new language rules affect Brexit residency cards?

A number of visas required to live in France have been affected by the new immigration law

Certain new residency permit applications now require higher language proficiency levels
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Reader Question: A friend told me France’s new immigration law means I need to take a language course when I renew my residency card, a Brexit Withdrawal Agreement card. Is this true?

France passed a controversial immigration law earlier this year, which included a toughening of language rules for those seeking to obtain certain residency cards and nationality.

Read more: New tougher French language rules for immigration: who is affected?

In general, the requirements have each jumped one ‘rung’ on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.

Also, rather than merely having to be ‘assiduous’ in taking free language classes if they do not pass a basic French test, non-EU foreign residents in France will no longer be able to obtain a ‘multi-year’ (two to four years’ validity) card without actually achieving a certain level (in this case the CEFR level A2).

In the case of cartes de résdent 10-year cards and French nationality, the applicant has to prove their level via a diploma or by taking a test to obtain a certificate from a private language centre. The method for multi-year cards has not yet been clarified.

Britons permanently living in France using their rights as EU citizens prior to Brexit (January 2021) had to obtain a residency permit to continue living in the country.

This was a unique card which makes reference to article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union, the EU law relating to leaving the union.

This came either in a five-year format (for those who had been living in France less than five years at the time of Brexit), or 10-years (if living here for longer).

Are language tests needed?

Anyone who needs to renew these permits – or update the five-year card to a 10-year version – will not be required to take any language test, as these ‘Brexit cards’ are similar to permits for EU citizens, which also do not require language tests.

There was no indication in the immigration law of those with a Withdrawal Agreement card needing to pass any language tests.

Renewals for these cards will begin in 2025 for those who obtained their five-year permits at the earliest opportunity.

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