Kalba Meadows, head of citizens' rights group France Rights, posted a message on the “France Rights: British in Europe – France” Facebook group following the announcement by the French government that the carte de séjour website will go live on October 1st, rather than the originally intended date of July 1st.
“Having spoken yesterday evening to a senior member of the Embassy team, it was confirmed that as we thought the Ministry of the Interior made the decision to delay late on Friday afternoon,” Meadows explained.
“The main reason for the delay is that due to Covid, préfectures have a three-month backlog of residence permits to process and wouldn't be able to give the necessary care and focus to processing ours as well.
“We do understand that Covid has affected things in this way, but it's unfortunate that the decision came so late in the day and was poorly communicated – to our knowledge there has been no press statement – so many people are likely to still be unaware.”
Under the terms of the Brexit deal, Britons will have to apply for special residency permits that will specifically state they are protected by the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement.
Brits have until December 31st, 2020 to become legally resident in France and then will have until at least the end of June 2021 to make the application.
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France announced back in January that it would be creating a new online process, and despite the widespread chaos caused by the coronavirus epidemic and following lockdown, it had seemed that the site was still on course to open in July as planned.
“We completely understand that people are worried by the delay,” Meadows went on to say.
“But just to put things into context: less than a handful of countries have so far begun implementing the citizens' rights part of the WA. Some don't intend to begin until January 2021 while others still haven't set a date. So even with a start date of 1 October France will still be one of the earliest to begin implementation, and we will have nine months to make our applications.
“There is no reason why even 200,000 people – which we believe is the upper end guesstimate of the British population figure in France, should not be able to apply within a 9 month period.
“The other thing to note is that three months has been taken off the application time, NOT the time available for processing. There is no deadline within which préfectures must process applications – the date of 30 June 2021 is the (sic) period during which you must apply, NOT the period during which applications must be decided. We will be deemed to have the right of residence until our applications are processed – whenever that is, and we will have a certificate of application which will prove this.”