A busy very news-full week ... and a digest and update in case you missed something

Hi everyone

Although we're still waiting for the decree to be published, the last week has been incredibly busy with new information coming left, right and centre! Everything in this post has been published on our Facebook page but we know it's easy to miss things, so because this is all important information we've collected it all together here so you can easily keep up.

Travelling in and out of the Schengen area after 31 December 2020

For just about as long as we can remember, we've had countless questions about travelling in and out of the Schengen zone after 31 December 2020 - in particular how to avoid being treated as a tourist if you haven't yet got a new residence card.

The European Commission recently published a set of slides outlining the process that would be followed at the Schengen external border. We've used that to put together our latest explainer article, which outlines the situation both for those who are covered by the WA, and for those who are not.

We at British in Europe have put together an explainer which looks at what documents you'll need to cross the border after 31 December, how not to get your passport stamped or be treated as a tourist, who will be subject to the 90/180 day rule, and more.

Exportable benefits and S1 forms

Do you receive one or more of the 4 exportable disability and care benefits (AA, DLA, PIP and CA)? If so, this is very important information for you, as you may need to take action before 31 December 2020.

If you have, or you're likely to apply for in the future, one of these disability and care benefits from the UK this is an important post for you. The benefits affected are Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independent Payment (PIP), Carers Allowance (CA) and Attendance Allowance (AA).

All of these benefits are currently exportable, which means you can continue to receive them if you live in the EU, EEA or Switzerland - and they will continue to be exportable under the WA, so you will continue to receive them. Currently these benefits can also be claimed if you already live in an EU/EEA country or Switzerland as long as you have a genuine link with the UK social security system, for example you’ve lived or worked in the UK.

Until recently all of these benefits carried automatic eligibility to an S1 form for those living abroad (see our explainer for info the S1 system: https://www.britishineurope.org/page/1016540-explanatory-guides#GN3)

Some of you know that the Department of Health and Social Care has been carrying out a review of eligibility for S1 forms for those in receipt of these benefits, and some of you have contacted us because you've had difficulty in applying for an S1. The DHSC has now finished its review, and there is an important change in the offing from 1 January 2021.

Please note that this applies only to S1s issued on the back of these 4 exportable benefits, not to those issued for state pensioners or in other circumstances.

1. If you currently have an S1 issued because you receive one or more of these benefits:

You will continue to be covered by your S1 for as long as you export the benefit, both up to and beyond 31 December 2020. Nothing will change for you.

2. If you have been granted a time-limited S1 form because you receive one or more of these benefits:

You will be able to apply for renewal of your S1 form for as long as you continue to receive the benefit(s), both up to and beyond 31 December 2020. Nothing will change for you.

3. If you have already applied for an S1 because you receive one or more of these benefits:

An S1 form will be issued to you as long as you otherwise meet the criteria and you will keep it as long as you continue to receive the benefit(s).

4. If you have not already applied for an S1 on the basis of exporting one of the above benefits:

You can still apply, but you must apply by 31 December 2020. If you do apply by then an S1 form will be issued as long as you otherwise meet the criteria and you will keep it as long as you continue to receive the benefit(s).

After 31 December 2020, it will no longer be possible to make a new application for an S1 form on the basis that you receive DLA, PIP, CA or AA. If you receive one of these benefits and do not currently have an S1 form, you should apply for one now.

Implications for family reunification:

If you have family members joining you under the WA after 31 December who receive one or more of these benefits, although they will be able to continue to export their benefit (as they will be covered by the WA) they will only be able to apply for an S1 if they also receive a UK state pension.

Here's the relevant page on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/moving-abroad/planning-your-healthcare/.

Do you have an S1 and a UK-issued EHIC? If so, you need to read this ...

Under new NHSBSA guidelines that have just come out, you need to renew your UK issued EHIC-E, as your current card can only be used up to 31 December 2020. Your new EHIC will have a special mark on it  - a hologram in the top right hand corner 'CRA' (Citizens' Rights Agreement) to verify that you have continued rights to use it under the WA.

Unless your current card has this mark, you need to renew it even if it still has a long time to go before expiry.

You can make your application online - if you currently have a UK issued S1 it's a very quick and straightforward process. you need to tick the box that says you have an S1, give your name, your address, your date of birth, a phone number (optional) and your email address. You'll get an acknowledgement that you've completed your application, and an application number. You will receive an email acknowledging your application and then in due course your new EHIC-E.

Here's the link - just follow the simple instructions. It will take you quite literally 2 minutes. https://services.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/cra/start

Please note that this only applies to UK issued EHICs held by those with an S1 form - if you have an EHIC/CEAM issued by France it doesn't apply to you.

New website pages to help you apply for your new residence status and card

We've now added 10 new pages to the France Rights website that take you through the process of applying for your new status in different circumstances. The first two pages are general, giving you all the information you need to understand the system and the process; they're followed by 8 situation-specific pages, covering the application process in different circumstances. 

We listened to what you told us in the survey we did earlier this year, and as a result all the pages have full screenshots of the parts of the application form that you'll have to complete, so that you can see the whole form before you begin the process.

The introductory page is here: https://www.francerights.org/applying-for-your-new-cds.html. This page gives you the overview of the process and sets it in context, so it's an important page to read first. From there you can move on to read the detail of the application process, and then whichever specific page applies to your situation. 

In time we'll be adding an FAQ page to cover your most frequent questions.

Guideline figures for 'sufficient resources'

This concerns those who have been resident in France for less than 5 years and are retired or otherwise inactive.

Those of you who've been following this know that we were originally told in a meeting with the Ministry that the guidelines figures would be RSA for all - but that the flowchart and the application form both use RSA/ASPA. In mid-October, the Ministry told us that this would be changed within a few days. As time goes on and the decree still hasn't been published, it's our view that we can't be certain what the final figures are likely to be. We're aware that some people are saying that it is '100% certain' to be RSA, but we don't at this point feel confident in saying that, especially as the Ministry has gone quiet on it all. Once again, we suggest that if you are inactive, have less than 5 years residence, and you feel that your income situation may be borderline, you hang fire until we have certainty.

The special status for spouses or partners of a French national

I'd hoped this would be clarified in the decree, but as it hasn't appeared yet I (Kalba) wrote earlier this week to the Ministry team to get some clarification. It concerns the special 10 year card for people with less than 5 years residence who are spouses or partners of a French citizen: as you might know, this is not a status that is specifically covered by the WA or by the EU directive on which it is based. 

We want to be assured that this is not just a national status, but gives full WA rights too, specifically the right to acquire permanent residence after 5 years. If you are thinking of applying through this route, you may want to hold fire until we have a response.

Phew ...

We really hope that our next news will be that the decree and the arrêté have been published and that préfectures can begin to issue the new cards. As ever, watch this space!

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