Joining a Family Member
Joining a Family Member
This guide covers family members joining those already living in France and who benefit from the rights with the Withdrawal Agreement – referred to here as beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement.
The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 and there then followed a ‘Transition period’ which ended on 31 December 2020.
The Withdrawal Agreement (WA) details the rights of UK nationals and their families living in France by 31 December 2020.
Citizens’ Rights are detailed in Article 9 onwards within the Withdrawal Agreement (WA).
Here is the Guidance note drafted by the EU in relation to the WA.
Who are the beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA)?
Article 10 sets out who the beneficiaries of the WA are.
In this guide we will refer to those exercising their rights before 31 December 2020, and shown in the table above, as beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement
The WA also sets out the rights of qualifying ‘family members’ wanting to join a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement.
In the definitions section of the WA we can see that the definition of ‘family members’ is as per point (2) of Article 2 of Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council.
This directive is the Freedom of Movement (FoM) directive which we often refer to in our guides.
It sets out the rights and responsibilities of EU citizens exercising their FoM within the EU.
When the UK was part of the EU, UK nationals exercising their FoM rights by living in France (or any other EU country) were required to do so in accordance with this directive. In order to minimise the changes for those already living in France prior to the UK leaving the EU, the WA allows us to retain many (but not all) of the rights set out in the directive whilst living in our host country.
Definition of a Family Member
The definition of ‘family member’ is
The partner with whom the beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement has contracted a registered partnership (a civil partnership or equivalent)
The direct descendants (children) who are under the age of 21 or are dependent (on the person already exercising their WA rights) and those of the spouse or partner as defined in point (b) and children born or legally adopted on or after 1 January 2021 and who, at the time of application, are under 21 or are dependent.
The dependant direct relatives in the ascending line and those of the spouse or partner as defined in point (b)
Article 10 of the WA further states that those defined as family members above can join a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement provided that they fit one of the definitions as detailed above both before the end of the transition period and at the time they seek residence. (Our highlighting)
The WA includes an additional family member category
- partners who are not civil partners or spouses. In this case, the relationship must have existed before the end of the transition period (31 December 2020) and continue to exist at the time of the application.
The host state (France) will examine your personal situation for evidence of this.
The WA states
The family member joining the person already exercising their WA rights in the main does not require a visa to enter France (there are some exceptions based on the country from which they travel to France – see this link for more details) but must make an application for their Withdrawal Agreement Residency Permit within 3 months of arrival. Indeed, the sooner the better.
HOW TO APPLY
The French government public services website was recently updated to include an information link for those joining family members who are beneficiaries of the WA.
If you need to, you can change the website into English using the 'toggle' as shown here.
Then select - Vous êtes Britannique ou membre de famille d'un Britannique > Vous rejoignez un membre de votre famille installé en France avant le 31 décembre 2020 > Afficher les informations personnalisées >
This brings you to a page entitled
Que doit faire un Britannique ou un membre de sa famille pour vivre en France ?
This page sets out the conditions the applicant must fulfil and the documents that will be required for the application.
As you will see from the link, the application should be made at the préfecture local to the applicant.
Either use the tool on the link above or click here to find your local préfecture.
Ensure that the initial correspondence with the préfecture sets out clearly that the application is being made under the WA (Accord de retrait du Royaume-uni de l’UE) and that the applicant is joining a beneficiary of the WA and include details of the rights of the applicant to apply.
For example, set out clearly that the applicant is the spouse of a beneficiary of the WA and include the relevant details to demonstrate this.
The link above includes a list of the items you will need to provide.
It’s very important to set out clearly on the application the situation of the applicant, to demonstrate that they are covered by the WA as person joining a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement.
Beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement made their application via an online portal which is now closed. However the link to it remains live and you can see it says (English link – French link)
Always keep copies of any correspondence with the préfecture. If correspondence is via letter, ensure that it is sent lettre recommandée avec accusé de reception (LRAR).
Many préfectures have online contact forms you can use and they will then reply by email.
Here is a link to the Withdrawal Agreement.
It’s the EU’s website and as you can see at the top, you can select it to be displayed in English and French simultaneously.
Scroll down for the relevant section.
Many of our tables above have been taken directly from this link and are displayed in English and French in order for you to be able to quote them or show them when making your application.
In order for a child over 21 or a parent or grandparent to join a beneficiary of the WA, the applicant must prove that they are dependent on the beneficiary.
This means either financially, physically or both.
Our anecdotal experience is that proving financial dependence is easier than physical dependence.
Its not possible to give a list of evidence to use to prove dependency as each case will be considered in its own right but we suggest collating all and any documentation relating to the situation of the dependent person; such as medical records, evidence of previous and on-going monetary support provided etc.
Make sure the application is made within 3 months of the person arriving in France. This is very important. Someone who has entered France visa free, must, after 3 months, either have a valid visa or a residency card in order to stay in France.
Proof of an application for a carte de séjour (CdS) should be acceptable (if made within 3 months) and the applicant should not have to leave France and apply for a visa to continue their stay after the initial 3 months.
The applicant must also have comprehensive healthcare cover. An application can be made for entry into the French healthcare system after 3 months. The applicant will require proof of application for a CdS and, if appropriate, their S1 from the UK government. Please read our Healthcare guide for more information.
Are there any other categories of people who can join a beneficiary of the WA?
EXTREME CAUTION ADVISED
There is mention within the WA of another category of people who can join a beneficiary of the WA.
However, we recommend extreme caution when reading or interpreting this article.
Within the WA Article 9 definition of ‘family members’ Article 9 (a) (ii) says the following
*Article 3(2) of Directive 2004/38/EC relates to family members, other than those who fall within the definition of Article 2(2), who have a right to join an EU citizen – the family members defined in Article 3(2) of Directive 2004/38/EC have NO rights under the WA and no right to join a beneficiary of the WA.
WA Article 9 (a) (ii) (shown above) refers to people not included in Article 2 (2) and Article 3 (2) of Directive 2004/38/EC and the EU Commission guidance notes says
Third country national carers of a dependent EU citizen
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has recognised that, in certain situations, other persons should also have a right of residence, in particular where the presence of such persons is actually required in order for EU citizens to be able to enjoy the right of residence under Union law.
The most relevant example is that of a minor mobile EU citizen with a non-EU parent. While the right of residence of the EU citizen is evident under Union law, the parent on whom the EU citizen is dependent does not fall within the scope of Article 2(2)(d) of Directive 2004/38/EC, applying to parents who are dependent on the EU citizen (here it is the other way around).
The CJEU ruled in Case C-200/02 Chen that such parent has the right of residence in the host State in order to underpin the right of residence of the minor EU child.
Article 9(a)(ii) goes beyond reference to primary carers used by the CJEU in Chen (where only residence of the child’s mother was at stake) and is drafted in a more open manner also to allow covering persons other than primary carers (for example, also minor siblings who share the primary carer(s) with the minor EU citizen).”
You should also note that the guidance notes, linked and quoted above, include this caveat.
“This Guidance Note is purely informative and does not supplement or complete the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community. While this Guidance Note has been prepared by staff of the European Commission, the views contained in the Guidance Note should not be interpreted as stating an official position of the European Commission”
The case law mentioned relates to the non EU parent of a child who held EU citizenship.
Whether Article 9(a)(ii) could be used in order for an adult child to join an elderly parent in France in order to facilitate their exercising their rights under the WA, is unclear. We suspect that this will need to be tested in law before it is clear.
This is one of a series of guides and information sheets produced by Remain in France Together (RIFT). RIFT is a statutory association governed by French law and managed and run by volunteers. It exists to uphold the rights of British citizens living in, or moving to, France affected by the UK withdrawal from the EU.
The information is for general guidance and does not constitute legal advice. It is offered free for personal, non-commercial use.
The main source of information to keep up-to-date with developments in citizens’ rights is our website https://www.remaininfrance.fr/
Page updated January 2023