No deal and living in France

 In a worst case scenario – that of no deal – Britons living in France and the rest of the EU would become fully fledged third country nationals at midnight on the day the UK leaves the EU, currently set at 29 March although there is some talk of a possible extension.

If current events were a novel, it would be a compulsive read – no doubt one that would keep us all up well into the small hours reading frantically to find out what happens in the end. I suspect though we’d read it with a soupçon of disbelief … surely that could never happen in real life, we’d say. Yet it is happening, and here we are, living through the most chaotic and uncertain times in generations.

That’s the bad news. And the good news? It’s this: the French government has passed its emergency legislation allowing it to issue ordonnances which would provide interim protection for the rights of all of us who are legally resident on exit day.

 An ordonnance is a statutory instrument issued by the Council of Ministers that covers an area of law usually reserved for primary legislation so it’s not without controversy, but in this case it’s really the only effective way of making sure that we don’t all turn into illegal immigrants overnight.

 Hot off the press – France officially launches its no deal emergency plan 

Today, after a meeting at Matignon, Edouard Philippe announced that given the current political situation in the UK France was launching its emergency no deal plan. Five ordonnances will be adopted by the Council of Ministers from next Wednesday, 23 January. The one that covers our citizens’ rights will include this:

 1. There will be a 12 month transition period during which a carte de séjour will not be required. This is a derogation from the normal rules for third country nationals, who must hold a CdS to be legal and therefore means that nobody will become illegal, or be unable to work, overnight. 

2. Those with 5 years or more residence will then have to apply for cartes de résident – we expect this to be the carte de résident longue durée as this is what the European Commission is recommending, but this is still to be confirmed.

We also expect there would be no requirement to meet the conditions required for other third country nationals; and we’d likewise expect those without CdS currently to be able to apply for the new card under the current (EU) conditions. 

This is what we’ve been given to understand in our meetings, but obviously there’s much here that needs verifying. We’ll be doing that over the next weeks and will keep everyone here informed. 

 3. Those with less than 5 years residence will have to apply for one of the existing cartes de séjour or cartes de résident for those with shorter term residence, but will do so with more favourable conditions – again, we hope, the same as for EU citizens. 

4. Those holding current cartes de séjour would need to exchange them within the transition period for a new card representing their new status.

We understand that this would most likely be effectively a simple exchange, with only proof of ongoing residence required, though this is still to be confirmed. These provisions will only apply in the case of no deal, and only to those who are legally resident in France on 29 March. There is much else to follow up, including the exact position on health care, and you can rest assured that we’ll be doing all of that that over the next weeks, but for now a little patience is needed!


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