The decree that covers the rights of Britons living in France in the case of a no-deal Brexit was approved by the French government this week. Here, Kalba Meadows, citizens' rights coordinator of the group Remain in France Together, takes a close look at what it means (so far).
NO DEAL ORDONNANCE PROVISIONS
Kalba Meadows stresses that "there are many, many unanswered questions" after the publication of the ordonnances and that it's too early to know what it mean for individual situations."
There is a lot to understand in the no-deal ordonnance that came out yesterday so I’m going to break it into bits, as this is important stuff. Today we’ll deal with residence rights, in 3 separate posts. Then we'll look at other aspects over the days to come. Later today the posts will all go up on the new RIFT blog so you can share them with your non-RIFT friends.
This first post deals with some general information; the second post will look at what the ordonnance says about people with less than 5 years residence; and the third will look at what it says about people with more than 5 years residence.
1. There will be a transition period of between 3 and 12 months - to be defined by a decree - during which you’ll have to apply for an appropriate card (see posts 2 and 3). We think it will have to be 12 months in order to deal with what comes next.
2. All of us will, as you know, become third country nationals (TCNs). This ordonnance makes it clear that our future status will be based on the current status/cards for TCNs but with more favourable conditions. You might call us ‘TCNs with benefits’. In other words, there will not be a special status for us Brits if there is no deal - the cards that we have to apply for will be the same card as, for instance, your Thai or your Syrian friends have to have.
3. Everyone will have to apply for their new status within the transition period - no exceptions. For some this will be easier than others.
4. No language or other integration conditions will be required.
5. The provisions in the ordonnance only apply to people who were legally resident (note that weasel word 'legally') before Brexit day AND apply for their new status before the end of the French transition period.
6. There are strict reciprocity conditions. The citizens’ rights provisions in the ordonnance can be suspended by a decree if the French government finds that the UK doesn’t grant equivalent treatment - not just to French citizens living in the UK but also on the control of goods and passengers to and from the United Kingdom and veterinary and phytosanitary control on imports from the United Kingdom. We were expecting much of the rest but including goods and passengers in the reciprocity condition was a bit of a startler.
7. There will be a fee for the issue of ALL cards under the new system, and for each future renewal. This is likely to be the same fee as that currently paid by TCNs, but it will definitely be between 200 and 340 euros.
PEOPLE WITH LESS THAN 5 YEARS RESIDENCE
Here, we’ll focus on people with less than five years legal residence. Please make sure you’ve read the first part before you read this.
1. There are a number of different cards and you will have to apply for the one that is appropriate for your circumstances.
2. No long stay visa, normally required for TCNs applying for an initial card, is needed.
3. Students will apply for the carte de séjour pluriannuelle marked ‘student’. The length of this will be determined by the length of their studies.
4. Salaried workers on a CDI will apply for the carte de séjour pluriannuelle marked ‘salarié’. This will be issued for 4 years.
5. Salaried workers on a CDD will apply for the carte de séjour temporaire marked ‘travailleur temporaire’. This will be issued for one year.
6. Self-employed people will apply for the carte de séjour pluriannuelle marked ‘entrepreneur/profession libérale’. This will be issued for 4 years on condition that you provide proof that you can live on your own resources, regardless of any family benefits and allowances you might receive. Note that this is much more restrictive than the current rules which only require you to be doing ‘genuine and effective work’. People who’ve been in France for less than 5 years and run small businesses that don’t provide a living need to seriously look at their situations now and see what you can do to increase your income from the business or even change status.
7. Two groups of people will apply for the carte de séjour temporaire marked ‘recherche d’emploi ou création d’entreprise’. One comprises those who’ve graduated from a French higher educational establishment in the year before their application; the other comprises those who are unemployed, having been employed in France for at least 3 months in the year before their application and as long as they are registered as a job seeker and have health insurance.
8. It's possible to change your situation if you're a holder of any of the above cards - for example, go from employed to self-employed. You'd need to reapply for the new status/card.
There are other cards for family members, and we’ll look at those separately.
The moral of the story so far is that if you think life is complicated now ... take a deep breath because if there's no deal it's going to get immeasurably more so.
MORE THAN 5 YEARS RESIDENCE
Here, we'll look at what the ordonnance says on residence rights.Please make sure you’ve read the first part before you read this.
This is the shortest and most straightforward part.
1. If you have been legally resident in France for 5 years or more, you will be entitled to obtain a ‘carte de résident longue durée’. This is the ONLY TCN card that is regulated by the EU and not national law - it comes under the Long Term Residence Directive. It’s like the EU carte de séjour permanent in that in order to get it for the first time you have to prove health care and sufficient resources for the previous 5 years, but once you have it, you have it and no further proofs of these are required. There are two conditions to obtaining this card: either
You already hold an EU carte de séjour permanente. In this case you won’t be required to prove resources as you’ve already done this; or
You have lived legally in France for 5 years but haven’t yet got your EU CdS permanent. In this case you’ll have to prove both sufficient resources and health cover. Note that this applies to you whatever category you fall into: worker, self-employed, student, retired/inactive.
2. The amount of the resources required will be specified in a separate decree. We don’t yet know what they will be.
3. As you see, if you have more than 5 years residence, it’s important for you to apply for a CdS permanente if at all possible before Brexit day as this will make the changeover much simpler and you won’t have to prove your resources.
4. I’ll write a separate post at some point with all the information about the ‘long term residence’ status for TCNs as this will be our default status in the case of a no deal Brexit.
5. Once again, we’ll look at family members separately.
9. Anyone who doesn’t fit one of these conditions will apply for the one year carte de séjour temporaire marked ‘visiteur’. This will cover those who are retired or otherwise non-active. You will have to prove a certain level or resources - we don’t yet know what this is as it will be specified in a separate decree - and show proof of health insurance. The ‘visiteur’ card doesn’t allow you to work either as an employee or as a self-employed person.
10. After five years of residence, you will be entitled to receive a ‘carte de résidence longue durée’. You’ll have to show sufficient resources, the details of which will be specified in a decree. This is the closest TCN card to the EU CdS permanent.
NO DEAL ORDONNANCE PROVISIONS: HEALTH CARE FOR S1 HOLDERS
As we expected, the ordonnance covers the situation of those whose health care is covered by an S1. It is good news, and means that if you’re one of them you can rest assured that your health care will continue without a break. The Article covering health care tells us that
1. If you are covered under the S1 scheme and are legally resident in France on Brexit day, you will continue to benefit from health cover for yourself and your dependents for a period of 2 years ‘under the same conditions as a person covered under the French régime’.
2. The period of two years may be reduced if a bilateral health care agreement is concluded with the UK that would continue a reciprocal health care system between the two countries.
3. If at the end of the two year period there is no bilateral agreement between France and the UK, then the means of access to the health care system for S1 holders will be re-examined.
4. What the ordonnance doesn’t tell us is whether cotisations would be due (à la PUMa). And we don’t know whether the new arrangements would mean that social charges would be due on pensions, or who would be responsible for issuing EHICs/CEAMs. Nor does it tell us what the position is of those who would become entitled to an S1 during the 2 year period. We will be raising these points as soon as possible.
5. What the inclusion of this Article tells us though I think is that France is fairly confident of reaching a bilateral agreement with the UK on health care. We also know that the UK is keen to do this too and has made informal approaches to the countries where most Brits live. They are not permitted to begin official bilateral talks until Brexit has happened.
6. I suspect a lot of people are now breathing a large sigh of relief.