France has begun to issue some UK expats with just 30 days to vacate their homes if they fail to meet the country's general residency and earnings criteria, despite ongoing Brexit uncertainty.
According to an interview in UK news outlet The Independent by a writer named Emma Lawrence, the French government has already begun the process of of forcing out British residents who have not met the rules within the France's 'Carte de Sejour' residency permits and 'sufficent resources' income rules. Rules relating to minimum income levels now mean that any of the 200,000+ UK citizens that live in France that fail to meet the income threshold set by the French government, will be given just 30 days to leave.
The 'sufficent resources' income rules - earnings guidelines that vary from region to region - have existed previously but were rarely enforced on EU citizens previously.
"''Sufficient resources' vary according to your situation. And, depending on where in France you live, you can be held hostage to the decision makers at your local “prefecture” (the equivalent of a county council)..." - Emma Lawrence, a UK citizen living in France
However, in The Independent article, Lawrence said that despite owning their home in France, she and her husband have both just been given just 30 days to vacate it. She says it is a warning of how the 'Carte de Sejour' application can highlight income rules that can then be used to oust UK citizens that don't meet the strict criteria.
30 days notice
"When we applied for the right to remain in France after Britain leaves the EU, we received a letter telling us to leave in 30 days - even though we meet the legal requirements," she said."Last week everything we'd been working for since we moved to France turned upside down. Two letters arrived from the French government: one for me, one for my partner. The letters were not unexpected as we were waiting for news on our visa application. What was unexpected was what the letters said.
In anticipation of life after Brexit, it had been strongly recommended that British people living in France apply for their 'Carte de Sejour' residency permit, with French and UK governments and media outlets emphasing how important it is. What hasn't been quite so strongly explained, Lawrence points, is the need to meet the income threshold set by the French government.
As current EU citizens Brits are allowed to spend more than three months in France providing they meet the conditions for legal residence. These conditions dictate that you must either work, be self-employed, able to live self-sufficiently on your own resources or be in education. "So far so good," Lawrence added. "Until you factor in that France is one of the few European countries that stipulates a fixed amount which it regards as 'sufficient resources'.
"Those "sufficient resources" vary according to your situation. And, depending on where in France you live, you can be held hostage to the decision makers at your local "prefecture" (the equivalent of a county council). Indeed part of the challenge that many Brits are facing is that French governance is devolved to the local areas and many of these prefectures have a reputation for acting independently and differently to each other."
The rules state that if you are single you must earn at least €559.74 a month, a figure that increases to €958.237 if you have a child. Likewise for couples, you must earn €839.62 as a household or €1007.55 if you have a child. Pensioners must have an income of €868.20 if they are single or €1,347.88 if they are in a couple. "Rumour has it these figures will increase year-on-year," Lawrecne added.
Income checks "Up until recently, France has rarely followed income checks on EU citizens and so many self-supporting British people have been happily living here, albeit surviving on less than what the France deems acceptable."
According to the Remain in France Together group, in 2017 some 3367 orders to leave France were issued to EU citizens because of failure to meet the legal residence conditions. It is unclear how many of those were British citizens but, Lawrence highlights, that "you can be sure" that those numbers will rise as more Brits apply for their Carte de Sejours in anticipation of Brexit.
"This is in contrast to the UK government which has decided not to include means testing as a condition of applying for settled status," she said in The Indepedent article.
"We now have a very clear understanding of what is required and what is at stake. The lesson for us is that we can never take for granted our obligations to our host countries. Lucky for us we can challenge the decision, but others will not be so fortunate."