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Brexit 'WARP' Visa Rules and Application Process

Thursday 04 November 2021

What are the rules and procedures for obtaining a Brexit 'WARP' visa during the transition process? Updated 19th Oct 2021.

The terms of departure of the UK from the EU are contained in a Withdrawal Agreement (WA), which is legally binding on both sides.

The WA provided for a possible extension of the transition period for up to a further two years, but this idea was ruled out by the British government.

Although there was the possibility of a subsequent ‘no-deal’ it concerned (mainly) trade negotiations between the UK and the EU. There is no prospect of a ‘no-deal’ concerning citizens’ rights and a (thin) Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCE) was concluded on Christmas Eve 2020.

Under the terms of the WA, the rights of expatriates living in France at the end of 2020 are protected in perpetuity, granting them a right to live and work in France on the same terms as existed prior to the UK leaving the EU.

Accordingly, if you relocated to France before the end of 2020 you have the same, more favourable, legal rights as those who were living in France prior to the UK leaving the EU.

No minimum duration of residence is required, with the government stating: 'aucune durée minimale de séjour préalable n'est exigée pour l'appréciation de la condition de résidence antérieure au 1er janvier 2021'.

Many readers expressed concern about not being able to purchase and relocate to France before the expiry of the transition period, but as we stated in our article Beating the Brexit Deadline it is not imperative you do buy to become permanently resident. That rule applies pre and post Brexit.

In addition, if you relocated to France before the end of 2020, family members can later join you and benefit from the WA. The guidance states:

'The following persons arriving in France between 1 January 2021 and 1 July 2021 are considered to be family members benefiting from the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement:

- the spouse of a British national;
- the registered partner of a UK national;
- the partner of a British national;
- the adult child of a British national;
- the adult child of the spouse of a British national;
- the father or mother of a British national;
- the father or the father of the spouse of a British national;
The family relationship must have existed before 1 January 2021 and continue at the time of the request.
Children born or adopted after 1 January 2021 are also taken into account.'

The application for a resident permit will need to be made on-line. After several delays the process opened on 19th October 2020 and was planned to be open until 1st July 2021. However, in June 2021 the French government extended the deadline until September 30th, 2021.

The government state:

'Les ressortissants britanniques et les membres de leur famille, quelle que soit leur nationalité, avaient jusqu’au 1er juillet 2021 pour demander la délivrance d'un titre de séjour

Toutefois, ce site internet demeurera ouvert jusqu’au 30 septembre 2021 afin de permettre l’enregistrement des demandes qui n’auraient pas pu l’être dans les délais impartis.'

This extension also includes family members who arrived in France between 1st Jan 2021 and 31st July 2021.

The French government later advised that if you missed the deadline you can still apply online until 4th Oct and later at your local prefecture if you have reasonable grounds for not applying earlier. You must be in possession of a permit by 1st January 2022. The French government state that the on-line application service will be 'définitivement fermé le 4 octobre 2021.'

During the Covid crisis, they will need to produce a certificate etc to border officials, which can be found at Déplacement en provenance du Royaume-Uni.

You can find a full summary of the regulations concerning travel to and from France during Covid in our regularly updated article Travel to and from France.

The rights of non-European nationals family members of EU nationals was also set out in our article Brexit - Rights of Residence of Non-European Family Members.

UK nationals living in France at the end of the transition period need to obtain a residence permit, but in the vast majority of cases it will be a formality.

Those existing expats who have any doubts about the legality of their current status in France need to consider their next steps, as we indicated in our article Brexit and Residence Rights in France.

The application can made on-line at Brexit Residence Permit.

The application form for residency is in the English language and appears to be relatively straightforward, taking no more than 15/20 mins. Photographs not required for the application itself, but only when called to the prefecture, although you need some other documents. We have provided some information on the portal and the process at French Residency Permit Portal Goes Live.

There is every indication from discussions we have had with officials, and from your mails, that the prefectures want to despatch processing of WARP visas as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

The French government have also since published regulations on the rules that will apply for residency applications made under the Withdrawal Agreement, which we reviewed in French Residency WARP Applications.

If you need assistance there are several organisations available, most notably the Franco-British Network in the Dordogne, who are one of a number of bodies commissioned by the French and British governments to provide support to applicants in the process. They have also written a useful on-line guide, which you can find at FBN Guide to Applying for French Residency Online.

Those who have lived in France for at least 5 years are entitled to a residence permit of 10 years validity stating: 'Séjour permanent - Article 50 TUE/Article 18(1) Accord de retrait du Royaume-Uni de l'UE'.

Those who have lived in France less than 5 years are entitled to a residence permit of 5 years validity, stating 'Article 50 TUE/Article 18(1) Accord de retrait du Royaume-Uni de l'UE'.

If you are a British frontier worker, working in France by the 1st of January 2021, and continuing to do so thereafter, whilst residing in France, you benefit from a right to enter and stay. As from the 1st of October 2021, you will need to hold a ‘document de circulation’ stating "Article 50TUE- travailleur frontalier/Accord de retrait du Royaume-Uni de l'UE- Non-résident." This will be granted free of charge and will need to be requested from the prefecture where you work.

You may also wish to read our article Detached Workers' Regulations in France.

Under the WA there is a loss of some political rights, and there are also concerns about the lack of provision in the WA for freedom of movement beyond France, but the right to visit, work and live elsewhere in Europe is not entirely lost, as we stated in our article Brexit and the Right of Onward Movement.

As for health cover, the UK government state on-line: 'If you’re living in France or move there permanently before 31 December 2020, you’ll have life-long healthcare rights in France as you do now, provided you remain resident.' That statement probably needs qualifying, because the process for obtaining health cover for EEA early retirees is not automatic, but should, bizarrely, become easier, as we say below. You can read our Guide to Getting Health Cover in France for a detailed explanation of current rules.

Those who are living in France and who hold an S1 certificate for health cover need to apply for a new EHIC card for travelling around Europe, which can be done at Get healthcare cover for travelling abroad.

You may also be interested in our guide Moving to and Visiting France after Brexit.

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