The website for Britons’ applications for residency cards to remain in France is now open and full details are available on how to apply.
The application process applies to all Britons living in France by December 31, 2020, even if you only start living in France in December 2020 – the French government believes the total could number as many as a quarter of a million.
Your family members may still join you legally after that date, as long as the family relationship (marriage, civil partnership…) existed before the end of 2020.
Non-EU family members of Britons in France also have the right to apply for one of the new cards.
The new website opened today, later than originally hoped, due to backlogs at prefectures, which were closed for three months during the confinement period. There were also problems with scheduling a date for approval of rules by top administrative body the Conseil d’Etat.
However the opening is still in line with the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (WA) deal which requires applications for cards to open at the latest by the start of next year.
Process is intended to be simple
The requirements for applying via the new site are similar to those for the website which was briefly open last year for cards that would have been issued if there had been no Brexit Withdrawal Agreement deal but in some cases are simpler.
They are simplest for those who have been in France more than five years, especially those who already have a ‘permanent’ carte de séjour as an EU citizen. These long-term residents do not need to provide proof of healthcare or means.
The Interior Ministry believes this group could be around three-quarters of Britons in France.
However the ministry has also aimed to minimise the documents required by those in France for less than five years, which will not be more than “four or five” an official told journalists at the press conference this morning.
People will not be required to provide proof of the continuity of their stay in France, which will be taken on trust, but rather proof of moving to France and of currently living in France.
For example you will not have to show a utility bill for every six-month period, as may be required in traditional French residency card applications.
Those who can show residency for more than five years will obtain a ‘permanent’ card, renewable in a very simple process after 10 years, and others will obtain a temporary five-year card and will be able to apply for the 10-year card when they attain five full years in France.
As expected, Britons should apply on the new website by June 30, 2021, and France now states that Britons should hold a residency card by October 1, 2021. Officials said they will ask prefectures to do the maximum to make sure everyone who applied in time has a card by then. Minors do not need a card, but should apply when they are 18.
If you will only be able to prove five years’ residency at some point next year you may wish to wait to apply then, however people should avoid leaving applications to the last minute.
An Interior Ministry official said today that employers and social security bodies will be notified of the rules, so they know Britons do not need any proof of residency before October 1, 2021 and so that no one has problems with their job or rights before then.
He added that they had tried to make the procedures as simple as possible.
“We want to make sure that British people who have decided to contribute to the life of our country can continue to do it and benefit from all the rights in the WA deal,” he said.
He said that to ensure everyone knows what to do – including the most isolated – the ministry is now communicating with local mayors, so that they can mobilise their own teams to make contact with British people in their area.
Special exception for spouses of French people
There is one special exception to the usual card requirements – Britons who are married to a French person will automatically qualify for a permanent card, the official said, and those who are pacsed with a French person, a five-year card. This is a specific decision by France to simplify things for these Britons and was not required by the WA deal.
No obligation to hold card before October 2021
Until October 2021 Britons will not be asked for proof of residency in their day-to-day procedures, the official said. However he said if you are planning to travel out of France next year it is preferable to apply online for a card beforehand.
You will receive an attestation d’enregistrement acknowledgement by email shortly after you complete the online application – you can print this out and put it in your passport, to ensure you do not have your passport stamped as a non-EU visitor.
The dossier will be sent to your prefecture which will then contact you by email and either ask for extra documents, if something is lacking, or ask you to come in at a set time, to give passport photographs and provide fingerprints. The latter formality is needed for all French residency cards and involves placing the hand quickly under a small scanner.
Cards will then be posted out, the first time this has been done for residency cards in France. Usually other foreign residents need to go to the prefecture and queue at several stages in the application, including when collecting the card.
If you have already applied…
If you applied already on the no-deal cards website, there is nothing to do. You should wait to be contacted by the prefecture.
If you have applied for an EU citizens’ carte de séjour but have not received it yet then you are still encouraged to apply on the new site, however in some cases where prefectures have already processed applications and were getting ready to issue EU citizens’ cards, they will simply issue the new Britons’ residency card instead. EU citizens’ cards issued to Britons will be considered invalid from October 1, 2021.
Requirements to apply
Those in France less than five years and not working or who are self-employed are required to show they have medical cover, which could include a certificate of private insurance (for early-retirees who took out a comprehensive policy) or an attestation de droits from your Cpam (not the carte Vitale).
An Ehic card is not expected to be acceptable, so newcomers should apply to their Cpam for health cover as soon as possible, so as to at least have a document proving they have applied for cover, the official said.
On the issue of financial resources, as before, those who are not working will (if living in France less than five years) be asked to show income equivalent to RSA income support (eg. €565/month for a single person), however there will be flexibility, especially if you own your home.
Self-employed workers living in France for less than five years will have to demonstrate they have a valid business. For those whose incomes have been hit this year due to Covid-19, this will be taken into account, and the prefectures can, for example, take account of the income you had last year instead.
These requirements to show means and healthcare are because the rights under the Withdrawal Agreement are for those Britons living ‘stably and legally’ in France under EU free movement residency rules, which include principles of supporting yourself and having healthcare if staying longer than three months.
How to apply
You can apply now, by visiting this website and clicking the Brexit symbol; then on the next page click on the phrase that begins ‘Procédure en ligne…’
Click the UK flag at the bottom of the main page for a version of the website in English.
You can complete the whole form in English if desired but in the additional comments section left at the end for providing supporting information (eg. that you own your own home or your income suffered this year due to Covid-19 etc), it is preferable to write in French. Also any emails sent to you in connection with the application will be in French.
Where documents need to be attached you should attach them as scans, as pdf, png, or jpeg files. They need to be saved on your computer, so you can attach them from there when they are requested.
The process starts by clicking to accept conditions of use, and then clicking as to whether this is your first application on the site (it will not be if, eg. you are logging in to add extra information asked for by your prefecture). Those applying as family members of a Briton also state this at this point.
You are then asked if you have been in France for more or less than five years, and are asked to give a date when you became a resident. If you have ever had a French residency card, even expired, you are asked for details of this.
On older cards the card number is found on the top right, on more recent ones along the right-hand side.
Several basic personal details need to be put in, including address, which will determine which prefecture your application is sent to. Take care, notably, in selecting the right French department from the drop-down list.
Once you start your application on the site, it is possible to stop and save what you have done so far and complete the process later, by going to the top left and clicking Code de suivi and putting in your email. You will be sent an email with a link in it, valid for 20 days, to click on to continue your application where you left off.
For further details there is a foire aux questions (FAQ) section available at the bottom of the first main page, and you can also click to see a tableau (table), giving a flow chart of what documents are required in what situation. The link for the table page is in the middle of the first main page, under ‘How to prepare your online application for a residence permit’
For example, if you have lived in France for more than five years but do not have a permanent carte de séjour you need to provide only your passport, proof of residing in France now and any document showing when you came to live in France. Those with a permanent card only have to provide a scan of this and of the passport.
A contact email for questions is also provided at the bottom of the main page.
Help if you have difficulties
If you have difficulty with IT, you can seek help, for example from one of the bodies accredited by the British government for this. See Visas and residency section at Living in France.
The official said that all prefectures are also capable of helping if you visit in person, as they have computer terminals for the public to use. Paper applications are not possible.
Source : The Connexion