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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My wife will shortly get a British passport by descent through her mother. I suspect that will make her a British citizen but not yet with the right to reside in the UK permanently? However, my interest is understanding her & my right to live in France.
From reading some of the postings it would appear that she will be able to enter France without a Schengen visa (on her new British passport) and that I could accompany her on a Schengen visa in my SA passport. I would then apply at the local marie/prefecture for a carte de sejour which would give me the right to stay on in France indefintely? Is this the case?
If so, is the carte de sejour a time limited thing or is it indefinite? (My actual desire is to be able to come & go from France at will without going through the dreadful experience of applying for the Schengen visa every time at the Johannesburg consulate -- even if it is free via my wife's passport it is still an unpleasant experience)
Many thanks.
 
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British citizens all have right of abode in the UK, I think. My daughter, born in Chiang Mai of British/Thai parents, certainly has that right (passport states 'British Citizen').

The rest of your post sounds about right, although it's slightly more complicated. As a South African you will be applying for a Schengen visa on the strength of your marriage to a British citizen, but part of the application process includes providing evidence of a residential address in France, and means of support once in the country. Otherwise yes - once you have the 3 month Schengen visa, you have to apply for the carte de séjour within three months of arrival. As for the duration, my wife is waiting for her first CdS to be issued, but different people have given me different information regarding length of stay - one official told me 5 years, another 10 years.
 

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Frogbogger is correct in saying you can't be a British Citizen without right to reside in the UK. There are other categories such as British Overseas Nationals - some of these categories don't have automatic right of abode.

Your wife's passport will immediately clarify that anyway. If she is getting a British passport it will state Citizen of the United Kingdom and European Union. As a result she will have the right to reside anywhere within the EU. You in turn will have full rights to reside anywhere in the EU as her spouse.

Bizarrely, as the spouse of an EU citizen, you have an easier time elsewhere in the EU than in the UK. If you want to move to the UK, you have to apply for an Indefinite Leave to Enter visa (£1100) from South Africa and then when in the UK apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (effectively a permanent residence visa). If you've been married for less than 4 years, you can only apply after living in the UK for 2 years. If you've been married for more than 4 years, the UK can grant you immediate leave to remain indefinitely once you've passed the Knowledge of UK test.

As the spouse of an EU citizen you are entitled to reside anywhere in the EU and enjoy the same rights as your spouse, subject to supplying the various authorities with the required documentation (but that is simply paperwork - they can't refuse you).

I think you're correct about the Schengen visa issue though. My wife is Saffer but now also Canadian. Because she is Canadian, she doesn't need the Schengen. But you do because of your SA passport.


Read this for more information on UK and EU citizenship:

British nationality law - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Edit: Ooops, I've just reread your post and it's unclear as to whether you actually are intending to permanently reside in France. You talk of coming and going. My comments above were made on the assumption you're going to make France your home.
 
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In addition to suninspired's comments, you are also better off in some respects as the non-EU spouse of a British citizen living in France, than as the non-EU spouse of a French citizen living in France.

(In theory) the latter now has to undergo a test prior to the issue of the long-stay visa (no CdS required for the spouse of a French citizen living in France, the long-stay visa serves the same purpose). This test requires a certain knowledge of the French language and of French institutions. The test is being introduced, rather haphazardly, around the world. Conflicting information à la française is being handed out at the moment, but eventually all countries around the world, where a long-stay visa is required to accompany one's (French) spouse to France, are supposed to conform.

However the French cannot impose this requirement on spouses of non-French EU citizens. Nor do you have to visit the nearest OFII office within 3 months of arrival, complete with medical certificate and 300 euros (?) to pay the 'tax' for the validation of the long-stay visa. All spouses of a British citizen need to do is complete the residence permit application form at the prefecture, or the local mairie (whichever is more convenient), attach more or less the same documents as were required for the Schengen visa (but translated into French), and sit back and wait.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for all the wonderful input! To clarify, my desire is not actually to live in France but to come & go & spend about 4/5 months a year there, living on & travelling on a boat I own in France. (The rest of the time would be spent back in SA) My Schengen visa currently only allows me 90 days in 180 days so I was hoping that a carte de sejour (5 or 10 years) would make my life easier for the coming & going.
When applying (via my wife's EU citizenship) would it be best not to mention that I actually do not wish to live in France on an ongoing basis?
In terms of getting papers translated into French, is this best done in France (by a notaire?) or should I rather get it done in South Africa (who would be the right organization to do this to the satisfaction of the French authorities?)
Again, thank you all for your interest.
 
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When applying for the Schengen visa from the French Consulate/Embassy, you have the option of providing supporting documents in either French or English (used to be only French, but times have changed). As you are in S. Africa, I imagine your documents (marriage, birth certificates, copy of statement from British Consulate certifying that your marriage, if it took place elsewhere than in the UK, is recognised under British law - the French insist on this) are already in English. So unless there's a significant saving to be made in having translations into French done by sworn translators (approved by the French Embassy) while still in S. Africa, there's not much point getting it done until you get to France and the Mairie/Prefecture tell you exactly what they require.

A sworn translator in France can be found for ca. 30 euros per page to be translated. Three documents translated into French were required in my case - my wife's birth certificate, our marriage certificate, and the letter of certification of marriage from the French Consulate. They may be others (eg divorce documentation, birth certs of any children), depending on individual circumstances. A notaire would cost you a fortune as he would only contract a sworn translator to do the work and charge a fee for the privilege. Loads of freelance sworn translators to be found - I can give you the contact details of one if at any stage you need this (she's based in Avignon).

As for staying less than 6 months in France, mentioning this sounds rather risky to me, as you are providing grounds for refusal I would have thought, if not at Schengen visa stage then definitely later when applying for the CdS. The definition of residence being your physical presence on French soil for six months and a day each year, or having your wife and family based permanently in France, I can't see how the French would issue a residence permit if you are not there for that length of time.

It's complicated because your fiscal residence is decided on the above basis, and if you are (both) in France for less than six months a year then you are not liable to French tax. So would your official residence remain S. Africa?
 

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I defer to Frogblogger's superior knowledge of these matters. But I also think you're going to start running into difficulties in gaining the benefits that would be normally associated with an apllication for genuine permanent residence.

As the spouse of an EU citizen you're granted certain rights residing within the EU but it doesn't look like permanent residence is your plan. Daar's niks vir niks ou boet and I can't see the French authorities granting you residence status if you can't prove your intention to permanently reside. I don't know the intracies of the CdS but I imagine that along with the benefits come obligations such as entering the french fiscal system as a taxpayer etc. You can't become a French permanent resident without paying the associated dues.

I suspect the French system is sophisticated enough to recognise your true situation and you'll end up being back in the position where you're effectively having to apply for a Schengen visa. But as you've already stated, that's not a train smash, is it?
 

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Thanks for all the wonderful input! To clarify, my desire is not actually to live in France but to come & go & spend about 4/5 months a year there, living on & travelling on a boat I own in France. (The rest of the time would be spent back in SA) My Schengen visa currently only allows me 90 days in 180 days so I was hoping that a carte de sejour (5 or 10 years) would make my life easier for the coming & going.
When applying (via my wife's EU citizenship) would it be best not to mention that I actually do not wish to live in France on an ongoing basis?
In terms of getting papers translated into French, is this best done in France (by a notaire?) or should I rather get it done in South Africa (who would be the right organization to do this to the satisfaction of the French authorities?)
Again, thank you all for your interest.
This is going to come back and bite you. One of the documents often required for a carte de séjour is proof of residence (for you and your wife) - usually some bill sent to you at the address you are claiming as your residence in France. There is also the obligation to notify the préfecture should you change residence - and if you move to another departement, you need to transfer your carte de séjour to that préfecture.

Under French law, income taxes are assessed by household, not by individual, so by claiming residence in France, you and your wife are subject to French income tax on your worldwide income. And, to renew your carte de séjour each year, you need to submit proof that you're still at the same residence.

BTW, that six months plus one day (usually interpreted to mean 183 days in a year) isn't definitive. If you spend your time in multiple countries over a year's time, you can be judged "resident" (for tax and other purposes) in whichever country you spend the most time, or wherever you're determined to have the bulk of your "interests." This includes things like where you own property, have business interests, have family, bank accounts, your doctors and lawyers, or even one place you return to on a regular basis - which is what it sounds like you are planning on doing for France.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the advice & guidance. It would appear to me then that either:
1. I use my wife's British citizenship and apply for a carte de sejour but then I must live on an ongoing basis in France, OR
2. I apply for a 90 day Schengen visa as I have in the past.

There just does not appear to be any other alternative for someone who wishes to spend (say) 120 days out of 180 days in France (or any other Schengen state)?
A bit sad as I have a lovely new boat to sail the canals of France in and I would like to spend even more time in France than I have over the past 11 years of my travels there.
 

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There just does not appear to be any other alternative for someone who wishes to spend (say) 120 days out of 180 days in France (or any other Schengen state)?
A bit sad as I have a lovely new boat to sail the canals of France in and I would like to spend even more time in France than I have over the past 11 years of my travels there.
Basically, you can only avail yourself of your wife's British nationality if you are going to live long-term in France as a spouse of a EU citizen. In all other respects, you are regarded just like any other SA citizens, with Schengen visa restrictions and so on. Sad, but true. Only if you become a EU citizen yourself, for example, by long residence in an EU country or through naturalisation as British citizen as someone married to a Brit (this needs 5-year residence in UK).
The only restriction your wife will have as a British citizen by descent is transmitting her British nationality to any children she may have. Unless the birth takes place in UK or crown territories like Gibraltar, Falklands etc, they will not inherit British citizenship at birth. There are ways for them to 'register' as British citizens, but most of them require some years of residence in UK before they are 18. You wife will still have the right of abode in UK.
 
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Thanks for the advice & guidance. It would appear to me then that either:
1. I use my wife's British citizenship and apply for a carte de sejour but then I must live on an ongoing basis in France, OR
2. I apply for a 90 day Schengen visa as I have in the past.

There just does not appear to be any other alternative for someone who wishes to spend (say) 120 days out of 180 days in France (or any other Schengen state)?
A bit sad as I have a lovely new boat to sail the canals of France in and I would like to spend even more time in France than I have over the past 11 years of my travels there.
I do wonder how closely the French would monitor a situation like this. Assuming that a carte de séjour was applied for 'in good faith', and issued (say for 5/10 years), and then circumstances 'unfortunately change', and you end up only spending a few months in France each year, would the authorities even notice? Because it would hardly be a crime to apply for the CdS and then change your mind, and remain fiscally etc resident back in SA. The only technical infringement of the law of the land would be in not surrendering the CdS straight away.

Can't imagine immigration adding up the months spent in France via the blurred stamps scattered around a passport, but who knows.

Not that I'm suggesting you do any such thing, just curious as to what would happen in such a hypothetical situation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I do wonder how closely the French would monitor a situation like this. Assuming that a carte de séjour was applied for 'in good faith', and issued (say for 5/10 years), and then circumstances 'unfortunately change', and you end up only spending a few months in France each year, would the authorities even notice? Because it would hardly be a crime to apply for the CdS and then change your mind, and remain fiscally etc resident back in SA. The only technical infringement of the law of the land would be in not surrendering the CdS straight away.

Can't imagine immigration adding up the months spent in France via the blurred stamps scattered around a passport, but who knows.

Not that I'm suggesting you do any such thing, just curious as to what would happen in such a hypothetical situation.
Interesting question. Us Saffers are known to occasionally nudge the legal boundaries in our own country but I would not really want to run the risk of being black listed from France. The other question is "Who keeps count of the 90 days" --- particularly if one left France after (say) 60 days then returned a month later for another 60 days?
 

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Good day Amarula,

Just read up on ya topic here and being a whenwe on a saffa passort with a french wife I have just moved here. The process was easier for me I suppose as we got married here in France, but in order to get the family visa we had to give a copy of our livret de famlie (marriage certificate) along with proof of her residence in france as well as several other things which bev has pointed out. Then once here I had to sign a conract of intergration etc and then had to do all of the other intergration formalities etc such as attending french classes and other seminars arranged by OFII (office of immigration and intergration). This has taken roughly 4 months to finish.

OFII grant the initial carte de sejour for a max of 1 year which is then renewed annually four the initial 4 years after which you can then apply for a 10 yr carte. This is different for those claiming refugee status etc who have to ju^mp through many more hoops at the beginning, but are then granted a 10 year carte BUT are then not allowed to return to their home country for the next 5 years.

Another way that you may look at approaching this is by possibly having your boat flagged in France as this is where you have her berthed I'm assuming. Then you may need to have a shelf company, in the US if you wish to flag a vessel there. As you are then a business owner in the eyes of the French authorities then this should then entitle you to a business visa I'm guessing (Bev your input here). The down side to this is that then as you have a company here in France you would have to pay some sort of taxes I'm guessing.

NB You cannot apply for a carte de sejour whilst you are here in france if you entered the territory on a visit visa!

Hope this helps a tad, or at least gives another angle you can look at. Personnally I found the team at the JHB embassy to be ok but prefer the team at the French Embassy in Muscat Oman
 

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The issue is complicated because it's actually easier (at least according to the published process) to enter the country and get a carte de séjour if you're the spouse of an EU national from any country other than France. If you're the spouse of a French national, you have to get a long-stay visa before entering the country. If you're the spouse of an EU national, you only need a short-stay visa (Schengen visa) - and if you're from a country that doesn't need a physical visa, just a stamp in the passport, you can enter on that.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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Then once here I had to sign a conract of intergration etc and then had to do all of the other intergration formalities etc such as attending french classes and other seminars arranged by OFII (office of immigration and intergration). This has taken roughly 4 months to finish.

NB You cannot apply for a carte de sejour whilst you are here in france if you entered the territory on a visit visa!
As Bev says, the above doesn't apply to the non-EU spouse of a non-French EU citizen living in France - as of last year there are two different processes involved.
 
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