British citizens’ rights group lodges EU complaint over French residency system

The citizens' rights group RIFT has lodged a formal complaint with the European Commission over outstanding issues with residency rights for Brits in France.

British citizens' rights group lodges EU complaint over French residency system
The citizens' rights group RIFT has lodged a formal complaint with the European Commission over outstanding issues with residency rights for Brits in France.Photo: AFP

Brits who were living in France before December 31st 2020 – and are therefore covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement – face a major deadline on January 1st 2022.

From then, they will be legally obliged to hold a carte de séjour residency card, and those without it can be denied employment, housing, benefits and healthcare and can be deported from France.

French authorities have issued more than 150,000 of the special post-Brexit residency cards, but with just days to go until the deadline, citizens’ rights group Remain in France Together (RIFT) says that many people are still waiting for their card.

READ ALSO What changes for Brits in France in 2022

The group, together with EU Rights Clinic, has now lodged a formal complaint with the European Commission, accusing French authorities of failing to comply with the Withdrawal Agreement.

The Agreement states that UK nationals who lived in the EU (and EU nationals in the UK) before the end of the Brexit transition period have the right to remain there, although countries are entitled to ask them to register for a new residency card or permit.

RIFT said that they had found the following issues raised by UK nationals in France, and had been unable to obtain answers from French authorities on the subject:

  • Not receiving a Withdrawal Agreement Residency Permit after an appointment (long delays)

  • Some Withdrawal Agreement beneficiaries have not yet been offered an appointment.

  • Ongoing unresolved questions with applications being “examined” (instruites) with no clear reason why and no consideration of the length of time in France or family finances.

  • Applications “classé sans suite” (closed/discontinued without being processed) or “classé sans avis favorable” with no appeals process indicated.

  • Lack of help with applications from the préfecture even for the vulnerable.

  • Children experiencing travel issues and parents being charged for DCEMs, old-style documents without the same biometrics as a WARP and therefore not offering children the level of protection from exploitation they could enjoy with a WARP.

  • No working system to change address or have a lost/stolen card replaced

  • Unreasonable requests for extra information

  • No adequate system for reunifying family with some being told to return to the UK to apply for a visa, or other family reunification application issues.

  • Removal from the CPAM medical system and issues with CAF, or other government institutions.

  • Denied and difficult access to France.

  • Errors on WARP cards (name, address, photo, etc.) along with incorrect rights shown (not permanent).

  • Wrong cards issued – such as a carte de frontalier, rather than a residence permit.

A RIFT spokesman said: “The EU Rights Clinic and RIFT have demanded that the European Commission take robust enforcement action against France to ensure it complies fully with its binding legal obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement. A petition will also be lodged in parallel before the European Parliament.”

French authorities have issued several extensions to the deadlines for Brits to have made their applications for a carte de séjour, and also extended the deadline to be in possession of the card until January 1st 2022.

The most recent official data comes from September – shortly before the deadline for applications to be received – and showed that of the 162,000 applications received by French authorities, 151,300 applications had been concluded by September 6th – leaving more than 10,000 people still waiting.

Applications were made centrally on a specially-created online portal, and then passed to local préfectures for processing. Readers of The Local have reported big variations in waiting time between areas.

Find more on the admin for Brits in France in our Dealing with Brexit section.

Member comments

  1. Its a shame they have not included excessive delays trying to exchange British Driving Licences for French ones, and even Ants not following their own well published rules when rejecting applications.

  2. Richard: I have to say that the process was for us remarkably simple and efficient even our brief appointment at the prefecture was on time and our cards issued swiftly.

  3. I guess it’s unsurprising that the process is a lot more efficient in some places than in others. For what it’s worth, my experience in Paris was excellent. I received a carte de sejour with ease. Simple online application procedure (surprisingly little information requested) and a brief interview at the prefecture de police. Card arrived earlier than indicated. Perhaps the key factor was that I applied early. If there has been a rush of last minute applications it might not be a surprise that the process has slowed.

    1. Same here in the Aveyron … delightful people saw us through this at the Rodez préfècture wishing us well and sympathies about Brexit.

  4. I’m one of those still waiting, since attending a rendezvous in Montpellier prefecture back in May. Subsequent enquiries made by email to the ministry and the prefecture in November and December have elicited nothing but automated responses, none of them at all informative.

  5. early appointments were done very quickly – I helped people who were having problems understanding computer applications and I must say after Mid February applications made after that time slowed considerably for getting final appointments with the prefectures – it was mainly due to the numbers of people that the prefectures could handle and Covid restrictions which of course also restricted numbers able to pass through the actual buildings used. Another point I noticed was the computer systems now being used seemed to be leaving some staff behind as new practices were learned on the job which I’m sure slowed the process. All my people were finished by October but the response from prefectures when questioned was normally a standard response of please wait we will get to you ( one phone call made did get a sort of timing it was made15th Oct and we were given the information that they were working on March applications and hoping to finish them soon and start April applications)

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Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

A week after chaotic scenes and 6-hour queues at the port of Dover, the British motoring organisation the AA has issued an amber traffic warning, and says it expects cross-Channel ports to be very busy once again this weekend as holidaymakers head to France.

Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

The AA issued the amber warning on Thursday for the whole of the UK, the first time that it has issued this type of warning in advance.

Roads across the UK are predicted to be extremely busy due to a combination of holiday getaways, several large sporting events and a rail strike – but the organisation said that it expected traffic to once again be very heavy around the port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel terminal at Folkestone.

Last weekend there was gridlock in southern England and passengers heading to France enduring waits of more than six hours at Dover, and four hours at Folkestone.

The AA said that while it doesn’t expect quite this level of chaos to be repeated, congestion was still expected around Dover and Folkestone.

On Thursday ferry operator DFDS was advising passengers to allow two hours to get through check-in and border controls, while at Folkestone, the Channel Tunnel operators only said there was a “slightly longer than usual” wait for border controls.

In both cases, passengers who miss their booked train or ferry while in the queue will be accommodated on the next available crossing with no extra charge.

Last weekend was the big holiday ‘getaway’ weekend as schools broke up, and a technical fault meant that some of the French border control team were an hour late to work, adding to the chaos. 

But the underlying problems remain – including extra checks needed in the aftermath of Brexit, limited space for French passport control officers at Dover and long lorry queues on the motorway heading to Folkestone.

OPINION UK-France travel crisis will only be solved when the British get real about Brexit

The port of Dover expects 140,000 passengers, 45,000 cars and 18,000 freight vehicles between Thursday and Sunday, and queues were already starting to build on Thursday morning.