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Carte de séjour: What can I do if I am refused permission to remain in France?

As one British family is given 30 days notice to leave the country after their carte de séjour application is refused, we look at what to do next if your application is turned down.

Carte de séjour: What can I do if I am refused permission to remain in France?
What can you do if your application for residency is turned down? Photo: AFP

Emma and James Lawrence and their two children have been living in the Languedoc region of France since September 2016, but their application for a carte de sejour was turned down as neither of them are earning the minimum amount, and now they have been sent an official notice giving them 30 days to leave the country.

Their experience reflects a common problem for many British people in France – particularly retirees or the semi-retired – who are often living on very low incomes.


One of the conditions for legal residency in France (and anyone applying for a carte de sejour must prove that they are already legally resident in the country) is that the person has sufficient resources so that they will not be burden on the French state.

As this is calculated on income (which can include a pension) those who have very low incomes or who are living on savings are liable to be turned down. 

Emma and her husband both plan to set up and develop businesses in France, but are currently concentrating on childcare, looking for a house to buy and learning French.

Emma said: “We weren't worried because we had savings that we were living off and the cost of living down here is so cheap that we were fine financially.

“We thought that the carte de sejour application would include our savings in our financial information but it seems very unclear as to whether savings count or not.”

The family's carte de sejour application was turned down and, although they have appealed to the British Embassy for help, they have been given a formal notice period of 30 days to leave the country.

The Local has also been contacted by many readers who are too afraid to apply for the carte de sejour, for fear they might be turned down over income requirements.

READ ALSO: 'I'm on €410 a month' – Britons too worried to apply for a carte de séjour

Kalba Meadows from Citizens Rights' group Remain in France Together told The Local the only advice they culd give to anyone who has been rejected was to contact a lawyer.

“We don't and can't get involved in giving individual specific advice on whether someone is legally resident or not – that's immigration advice and is for a lawyer.

“For a refusal with an OQTF we'd always advise someone to see an avocat who specialises in immigration.”

Remain in France Together has recently released a 'reality check' for British people living in France after becoming concerned that many people were not aware of the requirements for legal residency in France.

Kalba Meadows from RIFT said: “As we all now face up to a six month extension to Brexit day, there is a little breathing space for anyone who finds themselves worried by this article to take a long hard look at your situation, then sit down and have a hard think about what you might do about it. 

“But there is no other way of putting it than this: the tough news is that sometimes a lifestyle choice is incompatible with being legally resident in another country.”

RIFT has also put together some advice for people who have been turned down.

If you have been turned down for a carte de sejour there are three routes you can take for an appeal.

The first one is to appeal directly to the préfecture – known as a recours gracieux.

This is an appeal direct to the préfet, asking him or her to reconsider the decision, as you believe the decision is incorrect.

If you believe the decision is incorrect you need to provide reasons – such as extra evidence or a breach of the rules – you cannot simply say that you believe you should get a carte de sejour.

Advice group SOLVIT – a service run by the European Commission to help EU citizens get their rights – has produced a draft letter which can be used as the template for a recours gracieux. The template can be found here.

You can also make a recours hierarchique – which is an appeal to the Interior Minister saying that you believe you local préfecture made an incorrect decision.

Again, you must provide details on why you believe the application was incorrect, based on the current rules. It is not enough to simply say that you believe the rules are unfair.

Here is a draft letter from SOLVIT that can be used to make this appeal.

Both of the two above types of appeal can be done directly, and do not require a lawyer.

However, they cannot be used if you have already received notice to quit the country.

The Obligation de Quitter la Territoire Francais is a formal letter informing the applicant that they have 30 days to leave the country or be subject to deportation.

This letter is not sent automatically to everyone whose application is turned down, but only after a complete examination of your circumstances, including your state of health, your age, how long you've been in France, your ties with France, your family situation and so on.

If you have received the OQFT you only have one option left – a recours contentieux, which can only be lodged by a specialist immigration lawyer.

The aim of the appeal will be to have the decision annulled by contesting its legality; this may be done on ignorance of the facts, incorrect application of the facts, error in interpretation of the law or on incorrect procedure.

The recours contentieux is probably the most effective way to contest a decision, but it involves instructing a lawyer, so it will cost you.

It also must be filed within two months of an application being refused, so there is a ticking clock element.

Although a lawyer is not required for the first two procedures, it may be helpful to consultant one anyway – choose an immigration specialist.






Member comments

  1. Unfortunately, French administration has many of the characteristics of Third World equivalents. So much of the decision making is discretionary that basically your rights are whatever they say they are

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‘We will be ready’ vows France, amid fears of UK border chaos

Transport bosses have raised fears of long queues in British ports when the EU's new EES system comes into effect next year, but French border officials insist they will be ready to implement the new extra checks.

'We will be ready' vows France, amid fears of UK border chaos

The EU’s new EES system comes into effect in 2023 and many people – including the boss of the Port of Dover and the former UK ambassador to France – have raised concerns that the extra checks will lead to travel chaos on the UK-France border, and see a repeat of the long queues experienced last summer.

Port of Dover CEO Doug Bannister told The Local that he feared “tailbacks out of the port and throughout Kent” because the new system could take up to 10 minutes to process a car with four passengers, as opposed to 90 seconds currently.

EXPLAINED What the EES system means for travel to France in 2023

But French border control have insisted that they will be ready, replying to questions from the European Commission with “Oui, La France sera prête” (yes, France will be ready).

French officials said they had already undertaken extension preparation and would begin test runs of the new system in French border posts at the end of this year.

document shared recently by the secretariat of the EU Council (the EU institution representing member states) and published by Statewatch, a non-profit organisation that monitors civil liberties, shows how countries are preparing. 

“France has prepared very actively and will be on schedule for an EES implementation in compliance with the EU regulation,” French authorities say.

“The French authorities have carried out numerous studies and analyses, in cooperation with infrastructure managers, to map passenger flows at each border crossing post… and evaluate the EES impact on waiting times,” the document says. 

However, despite the preparation, the French admit that long waits at the border remain a worry, adding: “the prospect of the impact of EES on waiting times at the borders worries infrastructure managers. The fact remains that fluidity remains a concern, and that exchanges are continuing with each border post manager to make progress on this point.”

The EES system is due to come into effect in May 2023 and will be applied at all EU external borders – find full details on how it works HERE.

However there has been particular concern about the France-UK border due to three things; the high volume of traffic (in total over 60 million passengers cross the border each year); the fact that many travel by car on ferries and the Eurotunnel (while the EES system seems more designed with foot passengers in mind); and the Le Touquet agreement which means that French border control agents work in the British ports of Dover and Folkestone and at London St Pancras station.

EES is essentially a more thorough passport checking process with passengers required to provide biometric information including fingerprints and facial scans – border checks will therefore take longer per passenger, and this could have a big effect at busy crossing points like Dover.

The UK’s former ambassador to France, Lord Ricketts, told The Local: “I think the EES, in particular, will be massively disruptive at the Channel ports.”

The EU consultation documents also revealed more details of how EES will work on a practical level for car passengers – those travelling by ferry or Eurotunnel to France – with border agents set to use computer tablets to gather biometric information like fingerprints so that passengers don’t have to get out of their cars.

READ ALSO France to use iPads to check biometric data of passengers from UK

Doug Bannister added that Dover agents were “awaiting an invitation” to France to see how the new systems will work.