In the same way that EU nationals living and wishing to remain in the UK are advised to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme, the same applies for British nationals living in France who need to apply for a Carte de sejour. A Carte de sejour literally translates a 'residency card', and allows foreign nationals to live in France either on a permanent or temporary basis. In the case of British citizens already living in France, and who wish to stay after 31st December 2020, the Carte de sejour will allow them to remain.
At present, while we are in the Brexit transition period, British nationals and their family members living, working, or studying in France are able to continue to do so by exercising their treaty rights; this is also referred to as 'free movement'. This will not be the case from 1st January 2021. The latest guidance from the French Ministry of the Interior states that from this date:
"All British nationals staying in France must apply for a residence permit.
British nationals and members of their family present in France before 31st December, 2020 must complete their online process before 1st July, 2021. They will be issued with a residence permit marked "Agreement to withdraw the United Kingdom from the Union European".
British nationals arriving in France after 31st December, 2020 will have to apply for a residence permit under ordinary law at the prefecture. As an exception, Britons who are family members of British citizens already settled in France before 31st December, 2020 will benefit from a free visa and access to a residence permit once they arrive in France as the agreement provides.
British nationals, regardless of their date of arrival in France, must hold a residence permit from 1st July, 2021".
Put simply, British nationals who wish to live in France need to enter the country before the end of 2020 and apply for a Carte de sejour before 1st July 2021.
To qualify for a Carte de sejour as British national living in France before the end of 2020, you will need to:
British nationals who have been living in France for five or more years when they apply for a Carte de sejour will receive a permanent residence permit (lasting ten years). For those who have been in France for less than five years, the Carte de sejour will be granted for a shorter duration necessary to allow them to meet the five-year requirement for permanent residence.
The application process for British nationals exercising their treaty rights in France before the end of 2020 is completed online, and there is no application fee. However, as at the time of writing this article, the application website is not yet available. The webpage currently states the following,
"Pursuant to the United Kingdom's withdrawal agreement from the European Union, each British national residing in France before 31st December 2020 or coming to settle there before this date must apply for a residence permit online before 30th June 2021. This request will be done on the site from 1st October 2020. British nationals will not be required to hold a residence permit until 1st July 2021. If you are a UK national or a family member of a UK national and you have already applied for a residence permit on the no-deal Brexit site between October 2019 and January 2020, you do not need to redo a new online request. Your request has been taken into account and will be processed by the prefecture before the obligation to hold a title becomes binding on you".
This confirms that the site will be open for applications from 1st October 2020, but that British nationals currently living in France have until 30th June 2021 to apply. The site was originally planned to go live for applications in July 2020, but development was apparently delayed due to COVID-19. The British embassy has been reported as stating, "We're still expecting the residency permit website to go live in October, and we understand from the Ministry of Interior that the decree setting out the exact guidance for how to apply should be coming out in the second half of September. We're in regular contact with the Ministry of Interior and this does form part of our discussions."
It is possible that an administrative backlog will build-up once the application site goes live in October 2020, but eligible applicants should be assured that any delay in receiving a decision will not negatively affect their immigration status. As such, as long as applications are submitted before 30th June 2021, British nationals will be entitled to remain legally in France.
If you are currently living in France as a British national, and you plan to remain, then you have plenty of time to submit your application for a Carte de sejour. If the French system mirrors the EU Settlement Scheme in the UK, then the application process should be relatively painless and straightforward. Even if there are delays in processing your application, you will be able to remain legally France with the same rights and privileges as you currently enjoy after 30th June 2021.
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