British nationals in France are being urged to apply for a post-Brexit residence permit before midnight amid confusion and conflicting messages over whether the June 30 deadline to secure their rights has been extended.
A spokesperson for the French Interior Ministry confirmed to media last week that the deadline for applications for new permits, guaranteeing residency, health care, employment and other rights, had been extended by three months.
It followed statements on the websites of several local prefectures that the deadline had been extended to September 30. While the reference to a change in deadline has been removed for some, it remains in place for others.
According to the British campaign group in Europe, at least six prefectures have also since said, by email and in person, that a deadline had been agreed, with some adding that the new permit would not be mandatory until January 1, 2022, rather than October 31.
However, there has been no public announcement of the change by the French government and the British Embassy in Paris has repeatedly stated that it has not been informed of any extension, insist on the deadline stayed at midnight on June 30.
The British in Europe said the situation was’ chaotic ‘, adding:’ French official sources told people there was a three month delay. If today is the deadline, what will happen tomorrow to people who are told they have three more months to apply?
“We call on the Interior Ministry and the Embassy to publicly clarify the situation. It’s our house. We pay taxes, are invested in local communities and deserve better than that. No one should face the misery of becoming undocumented overnight.
Under the terms of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, UK citizens who were legally resident in one of the 27 EU member states at the end of the Brexit transition period last year are eligible for permanent residence, protecting their fundamental rights.
Fourteen countries, including Spain, Germany, Portugal and Italy, have opted for systems that automatically grant a new post-Brexit residence status to legally resident Britons, without the risk of losing their rights in the event of exceeding an administrative deadline.
The remaining 13 chose a constitutive system under which the British must formally apply for a new residence status, including five – France, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands – which initially set a deadline of June 30. .
The Netherlands last month extended their deadline to October 1 and Luxembourg last week pushed back its deadline by six months, leaving Latvia, Malta – and possibly France – as the only remaining early deadlines. .
According to the latest official figures, 140,900 of the estimated 148,300 UK residents in France (the actual number may be higher) have applied for the new permit. In Latvia, 500 filed out of 1,200 and in Malta 9,200 out of 13,600. The French Interior Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.