Legal residence, a long extension, and a reality check

As the UK approaches a 6 month Brexit extension, and in view of some of the issues being discussed and publicised on social and other media at the moment, we felt that it's time for a bit of a reality check on what it means to be able to live here in France legally, perhaps especially for those who've arrived recently, but in fact for everyone.

We've said all this before, of course, but it's time perhaps once again to dispel some received ideas that are not only plain wrong, but can put your right to stay here in jeopardy if you don't understand them. There is much more detail about all of this on the Remain in France Together website so if any of this comes as a surprise to you, please take some time to read through the links given below. This is important stuff that could mean the difference between being able to stay in France and having to leave the country.

This probably sounds rather hardline, but I make no apologies for that. We're here to do everything we can to help people 'remain in France' and to do that we believe in giving everyone the (sometimes cold and hard) facts, so while it might make difficult reading, please think of it as tough love.

This article covers the situation we're in now, as EU citizens: in order to be covered by the post-Brexit provisions whether we end up with a deal or no deal, you'll need to be legally resident before Brexit day under these rules.

Here goes.

1.  As an EU citizen, you're permitted to spend more than 3 months in France providing you meet the conditions for legal residence. Read up about this here:

2. This is the case whether or not you apply for a carte de séjour. Just because holding a carte de séjour isn't currently obligatory doesn't remove your responsibility to meet the conditions. They are 2 separate things.

3. You must meet these conditions for 5 years. At that point, if you have met them for that period, you become eligible for permanent residence, which is condition free going forward.

4. In every EU country except France and the UK, EU citizens moving there to live must demonstrate that they meet these conditions in order to get a compulsory registration card. France is NOT discriminating against you when you are asked to prove your legal residence when you apply for a CdS. They are legally required to do so by an EU Directive. Read up more about this here:

5. You may move to France as an EU citizen to work, be self-employed, study, or if none of these you must show that you are self-sufficient and are not likely to be or become a burden on France's social security system.

6. It isn't enough just to say that you're self sufficient or that you've never claimed social security benefits. France has its own rules on this - guideline income levels for self-sufficiency - that it applies. Just because you've never claimed benefits doesn't mean that you'll automatically be deemed to be self-sufficient.

7. Those working have to show that their work is 'genuine and effective, and not marginal or ancillary. Préfectures will look at income to determine this, but they will consider other factors too and will use their discretion. There is much about what this means on our website - read it here: .

8.  If you are not working and your resources are below the guideline figures by more than just a few euros, you may have some serious thinking to do and some choices to make. This is especially the case if your resources have always been below the guideline figures since you arrived in France, as this means that you have never been legally resident and cannot receive a carte de séjour. This is crucial, because after Brexit every British resident will need to hold one. Read more about this here: 

9. If you are self-employed and your derived income is very low, you may also not be deemed to be legally resident.

10.  If you fall into paragraphs 8 or 9 you may need to have a long hard think about what you can do: for example, how could you increase your income for the 5 year period required? This might include working, registering as a jobseeker, setting up a (genuine) business, letting some rooms in your home, or even asking for a regular allowance from family.

11. If you don't meet, have never met, and can't meet the conditions for legal residence it's possible that you may not be permitted to stay in France. 3367 orders to leave France were issued to EU citizens in 2017 because of failure to meet the legal residence conditions.

As we all now face up to a 6 month extension to Brexit day, there is a little breathing space for anyone who finds themselves worried by this article to take a long hard look at your situation, then sit down and have a hard think about what you might do about it.

Remain in France Together can give you general information and support on your citizens' rights in France but we are not lawyers and can't advise you on the specifics of your particular circumstances - for example, on whether you meet the conditions for legal residence. If you're concerned about your own situation and your ability to stay in France, we recommend that you consult an avocat who specialises in immigration law in France. This site will help you do that:

But there is no other way of putting it than this: the tough news is that sometimes a lifestyle choice is incompatible with being legally resident in another country.


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