Updated: Aug 12, 2021
After writing an article for Brexit Watch in April about my problems with obtaining a visa to stay in France for more than the 90 days allowed for under Schengen area rules, my experience of the inexplicable wall of bureaucracy since arriving in France on the 28th May this year continues to sadden me as a devoted Francophile with a very large French family.
Not only do British citizens have to attend the local Préfecture to deliver the paperwork for applications for a permanent residence permit despite being resident before the 1st January 2021 and able to use an online system for their application. In addition they are required to provide their finger prints which are not required in the UK system for those nearly six million EU citizens seeking “settled status”.
In my case, I am not seeking a permanent residence permit. However, as I am married to a Norwegian, I was not able to apply for a visa in the UK and so my application there was rejected by the French Consulate in London on the 31st March with these brusque words:
A British national married to an EU national wishing to stay longer than 3 months in France will have to apply for a French Residence permit at the competent “Préfecture”. No need to apply for a visa before departure. No alternative.
The Consulate later made it clear that an "EU National" for this purpose also includes members of the EEA but that has apparently not been made clear to the "Préfectures" of which there are over 100 in France.
Since my arrival, I have submitted an application for a short term residence permit of six months and have tried to communicate with the Préfecture. However, I have had a series of mixed messages ending with a letter dated 14th June from the Secrétaire Général of the Préfecture which told me to submit my application to the French Consulate in London!
Given that my 90 days allowance under the rules of the Schengen area will expire on the 25th August, I turned to an excellent firm of French lawyers for assistance who wrote to the Préfecture and got no answer. They then submitted an urgent request to the "Tribunal Administratif" in Nantes on the 4th August for me to receive the relevant permit.
However, my lawyers received a very quick reply dated 9th August from the judge to say that my situation is not urgent as no-one is asking me to leave France!! Given that I have been trying to comply with the law, I have found the response to be extraordinary but I have decided to stay until October and hope for the best and so the saga continues.
Here is the link to the Brexit Watch version of this article which has been renamed to this:
French obduracy makes British bureaucracy look spritely — brexit-watch.org
For my original article for Brexit Watch in pdf, please click on this link:
The excellent lawyers I have been dealing with are Julien FOUCHET a partner in Cornille-Fouchet-Manetti (firstname.lastname@example.org) who are based in Paris and Bordeaux and his associate Jean Noël Caubet-Hilloutou who is based in Pau (email@example.com)