Brits seeking permanent residency in France told ‘come back after Brexit’

Worried British nationals in some parts of France are seeing their attempts to secure their futures scuppered by French authorities who are effectively telling them to wait until after Brexit. Which is exactly what they wanted to avoid.

Brits seeking permanent residency in France told 'come back after Brexit'
Photo: AFP
Since Britain's shock vote to leave the EU in June 2016 many worried British citizens in France have been taking steps to secure their status in their adopted country.
While some have gone down the route of seeking French citizenship, others have applied for permanent residency permits, known as a carte de séjour, which can be obtained if you have lived in France for five years continuously.
While the residency permits are not necessary for EU citizens, which until the UK's official Brexit still includes British nationals, they are considered useful given the ongoing uncertainty around the rights of Brits living in the EU, not least because the permit certifies that a person has been living in France on a “stable and legal basis”.
Essentially if talks fail then those with a carte de séjour will have secured permanent residency before the expected rush.
British nationals have the right to apply for a carte de séjour but ever since the referendum Brits have been reporting problems obtaining one.
While many have no problems some departments, notably the Gironde in south west France, have been effectively telling applicants to come back once Brexit has happened. 
Phillip Mold, 60, who lives in Gironde, is one of those who had his application rejected. He was sent a letter reminding him that the the referendum result hasn't yet changed the legal situation for Brits in France.

Brexit: How to get permanent residency in France

In other words until Brexit is signed, sealed and delivered Brits have no need of a residency permit, so come back later. But it was the uncertainty further down the line that Brits in France were hoping to avoid by gaining a carte de séjour.
“I have no faith in the UK government and if they anger the French government during the negotiations then each side could end up refusing to look after each other's citizens or guarantee our right to remain,” Mold told The Local.
“There will be almighty queues at the prefectures, but if you already have a carte de séjour then you have already jumped over most of the hurdles.
“I don't really have any legal redress. They have the right to say no. I thought about going to court but I don't want to kick up a fuss and cause problems because I might need them further down the line.”
However those turned down are encouraged to go back to the prefecture and point out their legal entitlements.
A spokeswoman for the department of Gironde confirmed to The Local on Monday that British citizens are being sent letters asking them to delay their applications.
“The referendum hasn't changed anything for the moment. British citizens are still citizens of the EU and can still stay in France. We invite them to apply when they are no longer EU citizens and therefore need a carte de séjour.

Why we're becoming French: 'It's far more than just Brexit'

“It could still be a long time before the UK leaves the EU, when we have a date then it will be time to look at the applications.
“This is not a refusal. We are just telling them there's no urgency. There is a big demand for residency permits so we are telling British citizens it's not necessary yet. There is still a lot of time.”
The spokesperson added that applications from Brits had risen since Brexit and just like British nationals lamented the lack of certainty with regards to future rights of EU and British citizens.
Back in May the EU promised to investigate the problem around British nationals seeking permanent residency permits and even though France's Interior Ministry agrees it is their right to obtain one, prefectures in different departments seem to have different approaches.
Earlier this month the British embassy in Paris also asked citizens who had been refused a residency permit to come forward as they try to gather evidence of where the problems are.
“We are just trying to gather evidence of where people are encountering local difficulties which would allow us to build up a picture of any particular problems,” a source at the embassy told The Local.
British citizens in France are divided about what to do as a result of the referendum with many thinking there's no need to go down the route of seeking residency permits just yet because they are confident negotiations will eventually succeed and their right to remain in France will be guaranteed.
Nevertheless community groups that have formed out of the referendum recommend applying as “good practice”.
The Remain in France Together (RIFT) group writes: We recommend applying for a carte de séjour as good practice. Because as British citizens settling in France we are not required to register our arrival with our mairie or elsewhere, it isn't always evident how long each of us has been a resident.
“Going through the (relatively simple) procedure now of applying for a carte de séjour as an EU citizen will make sure that your date of arrival is formally registered, so that once Brexit has happened you can easily demonstrate that you are already resident and hence can benefit from the citizens' rights agreement.”
But while Gironde and other departments may be asking applicants to come back later many Brits in France report obtaining a carte de séjour without a problem.
A spokeswoman for the Indre-et-Loire department told The Local: “Nothing has changed but if British citizens really insist of on obtaining a carte de séjour then we will deal with the application.”
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Revealed: The best cities in France to be a student

Every year, QS best student cities releases its ranking of the world's most student-friendly locations. This year four French cities made the list.

Revealed: The best cities in France to be a student

As a student, some cities are more attractive than others. Each year QS rankings assess 140 cities around the world based on what they have to offer students in terms of their affordability, quality of life, the opinions of former students who studied there, as well as general desirability, employer activity, and how many students live there. 

This year, for the 2023 ranking, five French cities – Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, and Montpellier – made the list, with Paris making the top 10. 

Paris, Lyon and Toulouse have been listed in the ‘best cities’ ranking for several years, but this will be the first year for Montpellier. In order to be included, the population must be a minimum of 250,000 people and the city must be home to at least two universities that have been listed in the QS World University Rankings.

READ ALSO 8 ways to save money as a student in France

This year, France’s cities have moved up in the list. Across the board, two factors improved: “student mix” and desirability. The former measures what proportion of the city is made up of students, as well as the diversity of students and the inclusivity of the city and country for students, while the latter measures general questions like safety, pollution, and how appealing the city is to respondents.

On the other hand, affordability and “student voice” – the rating students gave the city’s friendliness, sustainability, diversity, etc, as well as how many students continue to live there after graduation – went down this year. However, affordability has decreased across the board in student cities around the world. 

France’s cities

Paris – The French capital came in 8th place worldwide and remains an extremely attractive destination for potential students. Paris is home to nine institutions ranked on the QS World University Rankings, and scored well with employment prospects.

The city came in seventh place for “employer activity” this year. The ranking said this is due to Paris graduates being “highly respected by employers” and that “there are lots of international firms based in the city’s business district which frequently hire skilled graduates.” In the student survey, the prospect of being surrounded by “beautiful monuments, history and culture” was appealing, as well as Paris’ nightlife. 

READ ALSO These are the culture shocks you will experience as a foreign student in Paris

Lyon – The gastronomy centre of France ranked 45th in the world, scoring well in terms of “student mix” and affordability. Lyon was credited for low tuition fees for international students. In surveys, students reported enjoying the ‘diversity of students from across the world’ in Lyon.

Toulouse – La ville rose in France’s south west moved up eight places in the ranking this year. Making it into the top 100, Toulouse came out at 78th. Toulouse was praised for its cost of living, as the city offers significantly lower average costs for rent – for example, a one bedroom apartment in the city centre an average of €712 per month, compared to €1,410 in Paris.

Montpellier – This year was Montpellier’s debut on the list, ranking 199th. The city performed well for its first year, especially in terms of affordability – ranking 35th.  

What about the non-French cities?

An overall trend is that cities are becoming less affordable for students.

In terms of rankings, London, held onto its first place spot, which it has had for the past four years, while Seoul and Munich tied for second place. The other European cities to make the top 10 list were Zurich (4th) and Berlin (6th).