France has firmly rejected the proposed amendment to the French Immigration and Integration Bill, which sought to grant an automatic visa/visa waiver for 6 months to UK subjects who own 'secondary residences' in France. The decision by the French Constitutional Court on Thursday, January 24, 2024, is considered final, with no avenue for appeal.
The CA and members had actively lobbied for this bill to embrace the cruising community too, which would have enabled stays in France for longer than 90 days without the need for a visa.
The amendment had successfully passed through the two houses of France's senate, before being rejected as 'unconstitutional'. According to reports online, the bill was rejected as it was deemed not to relate to the original aims of the bill, which was “to control immigration and improve integration” of foreign residents in France.
You can read the full legal text of the Constitutional Court ruling here.
According to the France Visa Free Campaign, they plan to continue to press for an easing of the current restrictions through bilateral agreements.
What does this mean for you?
For UK subjects, this means the status quo remains post-Brexit. Visa-free visits to France and the Schengen Area continue to be permitted for UK subjects under the 90/180-day rule. Those intending to stay in France beyond 3 months must apply for a long-stay visa.
You can apply for a VLS-T (Long Stay Temporary Visa for France) annually from outside France, provided the validity of the new VLS-T visa commences at least 6 months after the expiry date of any previously held VLS-T visa. You can only submit an application for a new VLS-T visa within 3 months of your intended departure date. The VLS-T is valid for six months.
CA member Judy Evans, who successfully navigated the VLS-T application process for the past 3 years and obtained a visa, shared her insights in a CA Zoom webinar on Monday 22 January 2024. CA members can view a video recording of the webinar here.
The CA has published a detailed guide and presentation for members on UK subjects applying for a VLS-T Visa valid for stays of between 3 and 6 months.
Stays of more than 6 months
For stays of between 6 months and a year, or for stays more than 1 year in length, UK subjects need to apply for and be issued with a long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit (VLS-TS).
However, the VLS-TS visa is subject to a further validation procedure once in France, including a possible medical examination, and should you wish to extend it without leaving France you must apply for residency with all the associated tax implications.
The CA guidance does not address the VLS-TS visa application process.
Future changes to EES/ETIAS
Please also note that there will be future changes across Europe to the process for applying for authorisation before travel and entry/exit, with EES (Entry-Exit System) scheduled to come into force by late 2024 and ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) due in 2025. However, these dates may change.
26 January 2024