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BREXIT

French firm’s message to British workers highlights confusion over residency after Brexit

In an example of the confusing and often contradictory instructions to Brits in France one France-based company has demanded that all its UK staff produce a carte de séjour residency permit within SIX months of Brexit - despite the French government planning to allow Brits a one-year grace period in which to secure their futures.

French firm's message to British workers highlights confusion over residency after Brexit
Photo: AFP

The company – which employs a large number of British staff, many working part time or from home – has sent out an emailing saying that employees from the UK need to provide a copy of their carte de séjour residency permit to the firm's HR department within six months of the date of Britain leaving the EU.

The translation and linguistics company says “staff will have six months to ensure that they are able to work and reside in France” and asks for a copy of the carte de séjour residency permit.

This has sparked panic among its British staff, many of whom do not have residency permits and have not even been able to start the application process.

One staff member who lives in south west France told The Local: “I just got this email out of the blue saying we needed to show them a copy of the carte de séjour within six months of Brexit.

“But my local préfecture has stopped accepting applications so at the moment I have nothing and there's nothing I can do.

“There's no guarantee that I will have a card in six months. I'm not sure what to do,” said the member of staff.

The employee asked that neither her name nor the company's name be included in the article for fear of losing her job, but wanted to highlight the problem around the confusing instructions being given to Brits.

The French government's no-deal Brexit decree states that British people who are already resident in France on Brexit day will be given a one-year grace period to organise their residency status, although they must apply for residency within six months of the leave date.

Although France's plan still depends on the UK providing a reciprocal guarantee for the French in Britain.

For the last six months, local authorities in many areas of France have not been processing applications from British citizens, preferring to wait until the outcome of Brexit negotiations.

After Brexit people who already have a long-term residency card – a carte de séjour permenant – will be able swap it for the new carte de résidence longue durée but everyone else will have to start the process from scratch.

The French government has said it is setting up a new website that will allow people to make the applications online, but that is not up and running yet.

READ MORE: UPDATED No deal checklist for Britons in France

The email sent by the company to its British staff reads: “If there is a no deal, staff will have six months to ensure that they are able to work and reside in France. Ensure to send / hand / put in the HR box a copy of your carte de séjour as soon as you have it.”

When questioned, the company responded: “Many British people working in France already have a current carte de séjour or have applied for French nationality. As a French company we will be required to respect French law on employing third country immigrants, which is what British people will be if there is no deal.”

One of their staff told The Local: “The tone of it was just so abrupt, sickening really. I pointed them to information on the British embassy page and in other places about the one-year grace period but they didn't seem to want to listen.

“I only work for them part time and I have other sources of income, but I know people who depend on them for all of their income and they are really worried.”

The latest advice from the British Embassy in Paris is: “If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK nationals living in France on the day the UK leaves the EU will be given a grace period of one year to obtain their residence card. You will have six months from this day to apply for your card and you will receive it before the end of 12 months from exit.

“During this grace period, you will retain your right of residence, and associated work and social rights.”

 

Member comments

  1. For once I agree with (antagonist) Boggy. 🙂

    But, come on, those employees saw the writing on the wall in 1976, when Britain joined, and that one day they would leave?

    And low the UK announced, what, 3 years ago?

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For members

VISAS

‘Be ready to wait’: Your tips for getting a French visa post-Brexit

Now that Britain is out of the EU, just how much harder is the process of moving to France from the UK after Brexit? British readers share their experiences of applying for visas as 'third country nationals’.

'Be ready to wait': Your tips for getting a French visa post-Brexit

Whether you’re moving to France to live, or you’re a second-home owner wanting to spend more than 90 days out of every 180 in France, if you’re British you will now need a visa.

You can find more on how to apply for a visa, and how to understand what type of visa you need, in our visa section HERE.

But how these systems work in practice is not always the same as the theory.

To learn more about the process of getting a visa as a UK national, The Local asked British readers for their experiences of going through the system.

The consensus among respondents was that the whole thing was bureaucratic, though there were notable differences in experiences that ranged from the “easy” to the “complicated” and “time-consuming”, while the advice for future applicants was, routinely, have all your paperwork ready – and be prepared for a lengthy wait at one of the UK’s TLS centres

Appointments

Like most visas, French visas for UK nationals must be applied for before you leave home. You can find a full explanation of the process here, but the basic outline is that you apply for the visa online, and then have an in-person appointment in the UK in order to present your paperwork. 

Sue Clarke told us: “As long as you get all your paperwork together correctly and in the right order, the time it takes to receive your passport back with the visa in it once TLS has sent it off is only a few days.

“TLS – the centre which works on behalf of the French Embassy to collate your application – is so very busy,” she added. “That part of the process took hours even when you have an appointment.”

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: What type of French visa do you need?

“The visa process itself was fairly well run, and a decision for the initial visa was quick,” wrote Ian Sheppard, who successfully applied for a visa in July 2022. 

“Although getting the follow up residence permit was a pain, [and] took longer than expected, and there was little to no communication with severely limited ways to get in touch about the application.”

Sheppard thought that, biometrics apart, the process could have taken place online, and wondered whether the follow-up residence permit application could be more closely linked to the initial visa application, “rather than effectively submitting the same application twice”.

Georgina Ann Jolliffe described the process as “stressful”. 

“A lot of the initial stage was unclear and I needed a lot of reassurance about the visa trumping the Schengen 90 days. (The Local helped on that one),” she wrote. 

“[The] lack of ready communication was very stressful. It could be slicker, however staff at Manchester TLS were excellent.”

Jacqueline Maudslay, meanwhile, described the process as “complicated”, saying: “The waiting times for the appointment with the handling agent (TLS in the UK) are long and difficult to book online. We applied for a long-stay visa and were given a short-stay visa, with no reasoning and no option of talking to anyone.  

“We had met every criteria for the long-stay visa. There needs to be a contact link with the French Consular website directly for discussing visa applications.”

Handling agent TLS’s website – the first port of call for applicants from the UK – was a target for criticism.

“The TLS system is probably the most user unfriendly system I have ever used,” wrote Susan Kirby. “It throws up errors for no legitimate reason and even changes data you have keyed in. Dates are in American format so you have to be very careful and it can be very difficult to edit.”

Bea Addison, who applied for a visa in September 2021 with a view to retiring in France, agreed that it was complicated and believes the French system is chaotic and badly organised compared to other countries. “Even staff in the French Embassy in London were not knowledgeable of the process and documentation,” she wrote.

“The renewal in France was applied for in July 2022 … we have received an attestation that we will be granted renewal visas, which expired in October 2022, but we have not yet received a date to attend the préfecture due to a backlog.

Second-home owners

Many of our survey respondents were not moving to France, but were instead second-home owners who did not want to be constrained by the 90-day rule.

They have the option of remaining residents of the UK and applying for a short-stay French visitor visa – which must be renewed every year.

Second-home owner Peter Green told us: “Our appointment with TLS was delayed by two and a half hours and the whole experience was chaotic.

“We now have to go through exactly the same process again to get a visa for 2023. With second-home owners there should be a fast track that just involves proving financial viability, nothing else has changed. The system needs to be fully computerised.”

Second-home owner Alan Cranston told us his application met with no problems, but came with “unwanted cost and effort”. 

“Our six-month visa was for our first stint at our house in France in the spring, and that then overlapped our second visit in the autumn which was under Schengen. How that is handled seems to be a muddle (we did not leave the country for a day at the end of the six months, as some advise),” he said. 

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