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EXPLAINED: Can you bring an ageing parent to France to live?

The Local France
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EXPLAINED: Can you bring an ageing parent to France to live?
An elderly woman walks down a corridor in Nantes, France (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

It's a point in life that many people will face, when elderly or ill parents start to need more care. But for those living abroad there can be an added problem - is it possible under immigration rules to bring parents to live with you?


In this instance, the most important thing is your own status as there are different rules depending on whether you are a French resident, a French citizen or married to a French citizen or if you are British and covered by the Withdrawal Agreement (ie you have been living in France since before December 31st 2020).

In many cases, you or your parents may benefit from legal advice from a specialist immigration lawyer, but here's an overview of what the rules say for different groups.

Non-EU citizens who are resident in France

In most cases, French law allows for foreigners' family reunification with regard to spouses and minor (under 18) children if you (the person making the request) have been residing in France for at least 18 months and you hold a 10-year residency card or a residency permit valid for over one year (eg salarié, vie famille et privée, étudiant).

Unfortunately, the right to family reunification does not apply to 'ascendants' (parents or grandparents of the applicant) even if they are financially or medically dependent on you.

The French website Service-Public explains that elderly parents can come to France "under the status of 'visitor' if they have the financial resources".

See the bottom of the article for more detail on what that means.


Brits covered by the Withdrawal Agreement

If you are a UK national and were legally resident in France before December 31st 2020 then you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, and should have the special post-Brexit carte de séjour known as the WARP or Article 50 TUE.

The Withdrawal Agreement states that Brits covered by it can bring family members to join them in the EU - and this covers "direct descendants under the age of 21 or dependants, direct ascendant dependants, spouse or partner with a lasting and proven relationship", according to the French Brexit government portal.

In the case of parents, this is the "direct ascendant dependants" bit - so you have to prove not only that these are your parents, but that they are financially dependent on you (eg by showing regular bank payments from you to your parent) and that there are not other family members available to care for them in the UK. 

Once your parent arrives in France, an application with your local préfecture citing the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement must be submitted within three months of their arrival. Depending on your préfecture, the website may have a Brexit oriented page (for instance, the city of Paris does). 


The application will likely require your birth certificate showing your parents' information, as well as ID (passports), and a proof of housing (justicatif de domicile). Additionally, your parent will need to show proof of private medical insurance to cover the first three months of their stay.

READ MORE: Birth certificate: Why you need it in France and how to request one

If you cannot meet these requirements, then the long-term visitor visa (below) may be a better option for bringing your parent to France.

If you or your spouse hold French or EU nationality

If you hold French or EU nationality, or your spouse does, then an application can be submitted to French immigration authorities to bring your dependent non-French (non-EU) parent to France.

You will need to show proof of the family relationship. If you are not a French national, but your spouse is, then you will need to include the marriage contract in the application.

Similarly, you will need to show proof of own resources, proof of your parent's resources and proof of regular money transfers sent from you to your parent. Keep in mind that foreign documents may need to be translated.


The application can be made with your local préfecture, but depending on your parent's nationality, they may need a short-stay visa to enter the Schengen zone for under 90 days. You can find more information here.

If your parent holds citizenship from another EU country, then they benefit from freedom of movement.

Visitor visa

So as we have seen, not everyone can bring a parent to France and even those that do have immigration options may find it hard to satisfy all the criteria.

In those cases, usually the best option is for the parent to apply for a visitor visa in their own right.

If they just want to stay with you for a few months - for example if they're recuperating after an operation - then they could get a short-stay visitor visa (VLS-T). If you want them to move and live with you, then you will need a long-stay visitor visa (VLS-TS).

READ MORE: VLS-T or VLS-TS: What are the key differences between France’s visitor visas?

In both cases, they will need to provide proof of their financial resources - these are based on the French minimum wage and the guideline amount is that people need a regular monthly income (eg a pension) of at least €1,380 a year, or savings of at least €16,214. These are guideline amounts and if you are prepared to provide free accommodation and take financial responsibility for your parents then this can be taken into account, although you will also need to provide proof of resources. 


Keep in mind that if your parents move to France to live, then French residency has tax implications, meaning they would need to file an annual French tax declaration.

Both visitor visas require proof of private medical insurance - for Brits, a copy of your parent(s) S1 form should suffice for the VLS-TS. For Americans, Medicare will not be accepted.

Then, once your parent has spent at least three months in France, they can apply for a carte vitale to join the French public healthcare system. 

French spouses

Ultimately, you may decide that a better option is moving back to your home country to care for your parents there. In this case, you will need to check immigration rules carefully if you have a French spouse or partner who wants to move with you. 

Most countries have minimum income requirements in place and require visas, even for spouses. It's likely that your spouse will need to provide evidence of either a firm job offer or proof that you can financially support them - which could be difficult if you intend to take time off work to care for your parents.

Be sure to check your country's rules before making plans.


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