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Brexit: How to get permanent residency in France
Photo: AFP

Brexit: How to get permanent residency in France

Oliver Gee · 5 Jul 2016, 16:44

Published: 05 Jul 2016 16:44 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Jul 2016 16:44 GMT+02:00

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A permanent residency card is known as a "Carte de résident permanent", and as the name implies, it gives the holder permanent residency (or a "séjour permanent").
It's not a compulsory card for European Union citizens so many won't even bother getting it, but it could be more relevant than ever for Brits after the Brexit vote has potentially made life more complicated. 
What does permanent residence get me?
Essentially, it lets you live in France permanently, although you'll have to renew the permit every ten years. That means you can get through day-to-day administrative tasks with far less hassle, not to mention things like work, finding a flat, and everything that comes with living in a country legally.
You won't get voting rights, citizenship, or a passport... but you can call France home and won't have to prove things like employment, health insurance, or if you have sufficient resources.
Am I eligible?
All EU nationals can automatically acquire the right to permanent residence after living in another EU country for five continuous years or more
Brits living in France, for the time being, are eligible for French permanent residency through the UK's membership in the EU. 
Although the fact you have tried to negotiate French bureaucracy could arguably mean you are well integrated.
You will also need to demonstrate that you are not a threat to public order and you have health cover, whether through the French social security system or private insurance.
For Brits who've been in France for five continuous years or more:
Congratulations, you have the right to apply for permanent residence via your local prefecture or Town Hall.
But now comes the hard part.
You'll need to gather the proof that you've been here continuously for five years or more. Obviously they take into account that you might have been on holiday, but you will need to prove that France has been your home.
To do this, basically be prepared to have anything and everything from work contract documents (which may need to be officially stamped) to tax returns, pay slips to utility bills dating back five years, as well as a valid registration certificate that you may or may not have got when you first arrived (full details here - in French). 
That's beside the passport photos, passport and appropriate forms that you will need.
You will also need what's called justificatifs des revenus, or proof of revenues, to show you are self-supporting and won't be a financial burden to the French state.
This proof would normally constitute payslips (if you have a job of course) or tax returns which would should show all your earnings, including pensions, savings, and income from investments.
British expats in France certainly already know what French bureaucracy is like, so we hope this means you have all this information stored in a folder (office, underground bunker) somewhere (complete with photocopies). 

The conditions around the issuing of the permit also officially state that you will need to demonstrate “integration into French society, appreciated especially in view of your personal commitment to the principles of the French Republic, the observance of these principles and knowledge of the French language.”

Language levels are not subject to any exams, but will be monitored through the interview process. The necessary level is decided on by France’s Council of State, but it is not believed to be particularly taxing.

Foreigners aged over 65 “are not subject to the requirement of knowledge of the French language”.

By law, authorities have to issue the permanent residency as soon as possible, and it's valid for ten years (then it will be renewed automatically).
It's also free. 
In short, however, if you've done the time and you have made an effort with the language and you have some money coming in or saved up then you should get the card.  
For Brits who haven't been in France for five years:
If you're a Brit and you don't fall into the category above, that means you're not yet part of the five-year club. Well, it's not the end of the world, but you're going to have to wait, at least for the permanent residency card. 
The good news is that while no one knows exactly what Brexit will mean, it seems everyone agrees that the process will be a slow one. 
Story continues below…
Note that the five-year residency requirement is reduced to two years if you are joining a family member who already has permanent residence, or if you are the parent of child with French nationality with temporary residence.
Europe officials have said:
"For the time being, the United Kingdom remains a full member of the EU and rights and obligations continue to fully apply in and to the UK."
In other words, if your five-year anniversary with France is approaching, you're probably going to be fine. You might even have a few years before anything changes. 
If you've only been here for month (or a few years) then all you can really do is hope that the five-year barrier crops up for you faster than the potential changes to the rules for Brits do. 
Looking for more information? Read more here (in French, of course) Or you could also call the number 3939 and ask to speak to an expert, although again you'll need to have a decent level of French. This kind of information changes (and often) depending on who you speak to or where you check online, so be sure to contact the Town Hall directly. 

(British Prime Minister David Cameron. Photo: AFP)
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