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So you’re living in France, but are you legally resident here?

You're living in France and you've been here for a while - that means you're legally resident, right? Wrong. Kalba Meadows from citizens advice group France Rights explains why residency is more than simply being here.

So you're living in France, but are you legally resident here?
Make sure all your paperwork is in order before your carte de sejour interview. Photo AFP

As British people in France apply for residency it’s crucial to understand exactly what being ‘legally resident’ in the country means.

READ ALSO How Brits in France can apply for residency post-Brexit

After four years of Brexit shenanigans, British people have got used to the idea that after Brexit they will have to apply to remain a resident in France.

But what is coming as a shock to many is the requirements for legal residency, which means that many people already living here – in some cases for many years – are not actually legally resident.

The Withdrawal Agreement gives guarantees to British people already here that after Brexit they can stay in the country, they are entitled to healthcare and their pensions will continue to be uprated, among other things. But this only applies to people are legally resident in the country.

READ ALSO


Proving legal residency is likely to involve a lot of paperwork. Photo: AFP

After realising that many British people living in France are ignorant of the requirements for legal residency, Kalba Meadows from citizens advice group France Rights has put together the following guidelines:

1. As an EU citizen, you’re permitted to spend more than three months in France providing you meet the conditions for legal residence.
 
2. This is the case whether or not you apply for a carte de séjour. Just because holding a carte de séjour isn’t currently obligatory doesn’t remove your responsibility to meet the conditions. They are two separate things.

3. You must meet these conditions for five years. At that point, if you have met them for that period, you become eligible for permanent residence, which is condition free going forward.

4. In every EU country except France and the UK, EU citizens moving there to live must demonstrate that they meet these conditions in order to get a compulsory registration card. France is NOT discriminating against you when you are asked to prove your legal residence when you apply for a carte de séjour. They are legally required to do so by an EU Directive. 

5. You may move to France as an EU citizen to work, be self-employed, study, or if none of these you must show that you are self-sufficient and are not likely to be or become a burden on France’s social security system.

6. It isn’t enough just to say that you’re self sufficient or that you’ve never claimed social security benefits. France has its own rules on this – guideline income levels for self-sufficiency – that it applies. Just because you’ve never claimed benefits doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically be deemed to be self-sufficient.

7. Those working have to show that their work is ‘genuine and effective, and not marginal or ancillary’. Préfectures will look at income to determine this, but they will consider other factors too and will use their discretion. 

 

8.  If you are not working and your resources are below the guideline figures by more than just a few euros, you may have some serious thinking to do and some choices to make. This is especially the case if your resources have always been below the guideline figures since you arrived in France, as this means that you have never been legally resident and cannot receive a carte de séjour. This is crucial, because after October 1st every British resident will need to hold one.

9. If you are self-employed and your derived income is very low, you may also not be deemed to be legally resident.

10.  If you fall into paragraphs 8 or 9 you may need to have a long hard think about what you can do: for example, how could you increase your income for the five year period required? This might include working, registering as a jobseeker, setting up a (genuine) business, letting some rooms in your home, or even asking for a regular allowance from family.

11. If you don’t meet, have never met, and can’t meet the conditions for legal residence it’s possible that you may not be permitted to stay in France. In total 3,367 orders to leave France were issued to EU citizens in 2017 because of failure to meet the legal residence conditions.

 
She added: “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.”

Member comments

  1. Does anyone know the rules which apply to UK legal French residents concerning FOM to other eu countries . Eg if we travel from France to Spain and there are no border checks how does anyone know how long we have been in Spain ?

  2. The original date for the online facility to re-open for Carte de Séjour applications was October 1, 2020. Then this was delayed. Does anyone know what the new date is for the submission of applications? Thank you.

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TRAVEL NEWS

‘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. 

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