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14 Apr 2021

Extension of Diocese in Europe Residency Support Project

More help for UK Nationals in France to apply for residency is on the way, with a decision to extend project funding for the Diocese in Europe Residency Support Project to the end of 2021. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has announced an additional £1 million in funding to residency support projects in its UK National Support Fund (UKNSF) Programme. This includes more funding for the diocese project, launched in September 2020 with a £250,000 grant. The project provides free help and support to UK Nationals applying for residency in France under the EU Exit Withdrawal Agreement.

The French authorities have stated that all UK nationals wishing to retain their French residency rights will have until June 30 2021 to apply, and that they should be in possession of their new permit by 1 October.

So far, approximately 125,000 UK Nationals and their family members have applied. However, the estimated numbers of British in France vary from around 150,000 to over 400,000, indicating there are at least tens of thousands who have still to apply.

For most people, applications are straightforward and the French government online application portal has provided an easy and streamlined system. However, for those who may have more complex circumstances or need assistance, the Diocese Residency Support Project provides a website and confidential helpline staffed by experienced caseworkers.

Open 6 days each week, the helpline is staffed by a dedicated team who are committed to supporting those who require information and support to progress their online permit applications.

The project focused initially on the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, with its largest concentration of UK Nationals in France. The diocese project now also covers Occitanie, Bourgogne Franche-Comté, Centre Val de Loire, Grand Est and Corsica.

Programme Director Zoe Webster said:

“The feedback we have received from people using the French Government residency online portal has been largely positive. However, for some, especially those who may have moved to France more recently and need to integrate into unfamiliar work, health and social systems it can feel more complex. Sometimes, understandably, people are concerned about having the correct information for their individual circumstances, which paperwork to collate or how to negotiate the electronic process and upload their documents.  That’s exactly the sort of thing our team is able to assist with support, and so far we have supported over 2500 enquirers who have used our project services online, and our call helpline.”

With just three months left until the 30 June deadline, the diocese project team are focusing particular attention on those UK nationals who are harder to reach, the elderly, those living in remote areas, or those who may not have access to online services. There are also the British people who are so well integrated into French society, and who have lived in France for many years, and who they may not realise they need to apply for the Withdrawal Agreement Residency Permit to remain legally resident in France.

Zoe adds:

“Reaching UK Nationals remains one of the most challenging aspects of the project, especially with ongoing lockdowns and despite large scale social media and print advertising across France by Government bodies, voluntary and the four French Implementing Partners and many grassroots organisations there is still much work to be done." 

Archdeacon of France, Peter Hooper said:

“Alongside the excellent online support to enquiries Zoe and team are providing, this new project phase needs us to pivot towards more local support.  We need to do whatever we can to leverage our chaplaincy and wider community networks, and increase local outreach, including to communes via French préfectures and mairies. I would ask everyone in our Archdeaconry to think about people they know or maybe aware of in their communities who may need to apply for residency, and help spread the word. We will have an opportunity to hear how we can do this in a session at the Archdeaconry Synod this week.”

All UK nationals over 18 years of age currently living in France, or who arrived prior to the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 must apply for the new permit if they wish to retain the Withdrawal Agreement benefits. The Diocese in Europe Residency Support Project team aims to make this a comfortable and reassuring process for as many people as they can reach.  

The helpline number is: + 33 (0)5 32 80 00 05

The email enquiry form is available on the website at: www.frenchresidencysupport.org/contact

The Diocese in Europe is one of eight organisations who are providing support under the UKNSF Programme. Our partners working across the EU/EFTA are:

AIRE Centre (Bulgaria, Greece, Iceland, Norway)

Age in Spain (Spain)

Asociacion Babelia (Spain - Alicante)

CIFSA (Cyprus)

Franco-British Network (France - Dordogne)

International Organisation for Migration  (France – Brittany, Normandy, Paris; Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain)

SSAFA (France, Germany, Cyprus)