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BREXIT

Just 5 percent of Brits in France who applied for post-Brexit residency have received their permits, survey shows

A survey of British residents in France into who have applied for post-Brexit residency shows that those who are still waiting for a response should definitely not panic - just five percent of applicants have so far received their carte de séjour.

Just 5 percent of Brits in France who applied for post-Brexit residency have received their permits, survey shows
After completing the application, the next step is an appointment at your local préfecture. Photo: AFP

Since the UK left the EU and the British government opted to end freedom of movement, all British nationals living in France need to apply for the carte de séjour residency permit – a huge task for French bureaucrats since there are an estimated 200,000 – 300,000 Brits living in France.

The government has put in place a streamlined system for Brits who were already living here before December 31st 2020 to gain residency, and the online portal for processing applications went live after several delays in October 2020.

According to the British Consular Network 90,000 UK nationals have applied online already – the deadline for applications is June 30th, 2021.

The application process is as follows – the applications are all made online on a central web portal, they are then passed to the applicant’s local préfecture for processing and once the application is approved the applicant will then be invited to an appointment to give fingerprints and present original copies of documents such as passports. The card is then sent out by post.

For full details of how the application process works, click HERE.

But with many people worried because they have had no response to their applications from French authorities, citizens’ rights group Remain in France Together (RIFT) carried out a survey to ascertain average waiting times.

Here are some of the key findings of the survey, an online poll that received 4,098 responses from all over France.

  • Just five percent of people who have applied have actually got their new card. In most cases, these were people who already had a carte de séjour permanent, which is a simpler process to swap.
  • 28 percent of people have received a date for the appointment at their local préfecture
  • The remaining 72 percent have received the automated acknowledgement of their application but have so far heard nothing else
  • Among people have who have been in France for more than five years, 33 percent have received an appointment date, compared to just 18 percent of those who have been here less than five years
  • Of the people who have received appointments, the vast majority were contacted in January, most appointment dates were within a couple of weeks of contact, but some people have received appointments in March or April

The survey also showed variations in waiting times between different areas.

Although all applications are made on a central portal, they are then passed to the local préfecture for processing, so waiting time depends on the staffing levels in the préfecture, the number of British nationals living in that area and the number of other third-country nationals in the area whose applications also need processing.

Areas that have a high number of third-country nationals were already struggling under a backlog of applications caused by the lockdown, even before they were hit with new applications from Brits.

Some areas that have a large British population, including Dordogne, have been given extra staff to deal with applications, but most préfectures have not.

  • In Paris, where immigration matters are dealt with by the Préfecture de Police, 50.91 percent of applicants have received an appointment date
  • Meanwhile in neighbouring Seine-Saint-Denis, just 9.09 percent have a date
  • Dordogne, which has been given extra staff to deal with UK nationals’ applications, has offered appointments to 51.3 percent 
  • In Charente 10.5 percent of people have their appointment date
  • In Aude in south west France, 9.3 percent have an appointment
  • In Alpes-Maritimes, which contains Nice, 24.7 percent an appointment

You can find the full deport from RIFT here and a département-by-département breakdown here.

All UK nationals living in France – even those who have been here a long time, are married to a French person or who had already received a carte de séjour permenent before October 2020 – must apply for a new card using the online system.

The deadline to have made the application is June 30th 2021 and by October 1st 2021 it will be compulsory for all Brits living in France to have a carte de séjour. Once you have applied online you will receive an email confirming your application has been received – this can be used as official proof of your status as a resident until you get the card.

The above system applies only to Brits to moved to France before December 31st 2020, those who moved this year will need a visa – find out the requirements HERE.

Member comments

  1. I live in Brittany (St Brieuc)and have registered on the central portal.I have received an email response/number but note that like most folk I am waiting for an email to give me a rdv at the prefectre to present my UK passport, Carte de sejour and to be finger printed. Anyone any idea when things will get moving?

  2. I live in Brittany (St Brieuc)and have registered on the central portal.I have received an email response/number but note that like most folk I am waiting for an email to give me a rdv at the prefectre to present my UK passport, Carte de sejour and to be finger printed. Anyone any idea when things will get moving?

  3. I got an appointment from the sous-prefecture in Nogent sur Marne (94) 2 weeks ago, and went this morning for the passport, fingerprints and photo treatment. It went really well, only 5 minutes at the guichet and the lady telling me politely that they’ll send the new card to my home within a month. Old carte de séjour was a permanent one.

  4. As with all bureaucracy in France, you apply, hear nowt for ages, then whatever you applied for magically appears just as you were forgetting about it. Have patience. It’s worked with everything else, I’m in no doubt it will happen again. We applied on line in November, had the interview a couple of weeks ago, and the helpful people in the prefecture said we would have the cards within a month. Champagne on ice for May……

  5. I applied at the beginning of November when the portal opened, had my interview at the préfecture de police in Paris at the start of January and received my card a couple of weeks later. Even the process at the prefecture was super smooth – I hardly had to wait at all. Sounds like I’m lucky though, especially as I didn’t already have a carte de séjour to exchange.

  6. I live in the Aube(10) sent my application on the 1st octoberreceived a mail saying it had been received and they would contact me for an appointment. Very few Englich around here but still no news. Need a photo but all closed becuse of covid. Passport expires in 9 months but needs 6 months validity. Have carte vitale, french driving licence french wife and no financial problems and being bilingual have no problem with rdv just getting a tad tense with delay who did this survey because I am obviously not included.

  7. Dont hold your breath. We applied in Mayenne 13 months ago Jan 2020 and are still waiting for our interview
    Gus Pauline, Le Ham

  8. Thanks for all the feedback. I have downloaded the spreadsheet from RIFT site and note that in my department (22) there have been 107 applicants and one – yes one of the applicants has been given a rdv. Waiting happily now for mine to arrive!

  9. Dept 64 sent our cards out with no visit necessary to the prefecture. We had 5 year cards since 2018. Well done 64!

  10. Well according to that site there has been one applicant and it has been dealt with 100% I presume that means they have received it and told me so Getting somewhat stressed now even after 14 years living here and 50 years spending time with family in the village.

  11. I live in Toulouse, 31. I had a rdv on 11th January. it was done very quickly,everything was explained clearly. they said i should receive my carte de sejour within 2 months. I was given a receipt, which is evidence of the stage i have reached in the application process.

  12. It’s interesting that someone on The Local states that there’s no need to panic yet in the same breath tells us that only 5% of applicants have so far received their permits since the process began 4 months ago. Does anyone seriously believe that the remaining 95% of us are likely to receive our permits within the next 4 months? Why aren’t ALL the préfectures beefing up their staff?

  13. I live in Montpellier.

    I applied for my first permanent residence card on October 19. I had never had a card of any description prior to this application. I received an e-mail a week before the confirmation of the appointment for January 12 at the prefecture. All went smoothly and I received my card within two weeks.

  14. Yesterday in St Brieuc (22) my wife received the followig from the prefecture.

    Votre demande de titre de séjour a été instruite par la préfecture. Elle porte le numéro suivant : xxxxxx (numéro «GED» à rappeler dans vos futures démarches).
    Votre demande de titre de séjour a été acceptée.
    La préfecture des Côtes-d’Armor vous proposera un rendez-vous prochainement pour finaliser votre démarche (prise d’empreintes biométriques et photographie).
    Nous vous invitons à patienter.
    So good news but no rdv for my wife. Clearly we will have to be patient and no sign that my application is being processed!

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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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