France: Plans for automatic long-stay visas for British second home owners scrapped

British second home owners have been dealt a crushing blow by a ruling from France’s Constitutional Council that deems plans to allow them access to an automatic long-stay visa “unconstitutional”.  

After making its way through parliament in late December, France’s controversial ‘Bill to Control Immigration and Improve Integration’ – or projet de loi pour contrôler l’immigration, améliorer l’intégration in French – went before the nation’s Constitutional Council on Thursday 25th January. 

See more: France: Far right claims controversial new immigration law as an “ideological victory”

Of the 86 articles included in the bill, 32 were deemed unconstitutional and scrapped. Listed among them was Article 16, which called for the automatic issuing of long-stay visas to all British nationals who own a second or holiday home in France. 

Spearheaded by Martine Berthet, a senator for the Savoie and a member of Les Républicains party, the aim of Article 16 had been to allow British second home owners the right to spend as much time as they wished in France. Following Brexit, British nationals without a long-term visa or residency permit such as the titre de séjour have only been allowed to stay in France for up to 90 days of every 180. Longer stays demand a visa.  

Estimates set the number of British people living full-time in France under the titre de séjour visa scheme at roughly 177,000, while a survey conducted by InterNations suggests that the British make up 24% of all foreigners resident in the country. With regards to second home ownership, it is believed that there were around 60,000 French addresses owned by people of British nationality in 2023, down from the nearly 90,000 properties owned 15 years ago. 

See more: Second home market plateauing, but demand for the Côte d’Azur remains high

In many ways, the ruling was to be expected. One of the main criticisms of Article 16 was that it made specific reference to British second home owners and provided no provision for the numerous other countries that are subject to the same or similar visa rules.  

But still, the decision will no doubt disappoint the thousands who had been hoping that the plans would go some way to reversing the negative effects that Brexit has had on life in the UK’s closest neighbour.  

The decision of the Constitutional Council is final, meaning that no appeal can be made. A similar proposition may, however, be presented in the context of a different bill in the future. 


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Photo source: Sigmund, Unsplash