There was bad news for British second-home owners as the Conseil Constitutionnel yesterday (Thursday, 25th January) threw out the amendment allowing an automatic right to a visa from France’s new immigration bill.
France’s Conseil Constitutionnel rejects several parts of immigration bill
We recently reported on France’s controversial new immigration bill, which was passed by parliament at the end of last year. In particular, many of our readers were interested in one particular amendment – a clause stating that British citizens with second homes in France will be allowed an automatic visa, which was added by Savoie Senator Martine Berthet (Les Républicains).
Unfortunately for those hoping for the bill to pass into law, this particular amendment has been thrown out by the Conseil Constitutionnel and will not be part of the final immigration bill that will pass into law.
Why was the amendment for British second-home owner visas rejected?
The Conseil Constitutionnel have one main job when it comes to assessing bills – they must confirm that a bill complies with the French constitution and French law. The Conseil have the right to pass a bill, reject it entirely, or demand that the government makes changes such as striking or changing certain amendments. All bills in France must pass through the Conseil Constitutionnel, and their decision is final – there is no possibility to appeal.
The amendment allowing visas for British second-home owners in France was one of 32 out of 86 amendments that were rejected in the bill. It was rejected as it was deemed not to relate to the original aims of the bill, which was “to control immigration and improve integration” of foreign residents in France.
On the subject of Article 16 (the right to a long-stay visa for British nationals who own a second home in France) the nine members of the Conseil Constitutionnel, known as ‘Les Sages’ or “the wise ones”, ruled that:
“Article 16 would have no place in the law on the grounds that it was introduced at first reading according to a procedure contrary to Article 45 of the Constitution.
These provisions thus have no link, even indirectly, with those mentioned above in Articles 1, 3, 6 and 7 of the initial bill. They also do not have a link, even indirectly, with any other of the provisions that were included in the bill tabled on the Senate bureau.”
Upon hearing the news, Senator Martine Berthet pointed out that the amendment was not rejected as inherently unconstitutional (rather, it was just not related to the bill), which she took to be a positive sign. She also expressed an intention to continue her fight to help secure visa rights for British second-home owners in France at a later date.
What does this mean for British second-home owners in France?
Essentially, nothing has changed. British nationals can still enjoy visa-free visits to France and the Schengen Area under the 90/180-day rule. Those wishing to stay longer than 3 months will need to apply for a long-stay visa, whether that’s a temporary six-month visa or a 12-month long-stay visitor visa.
While we’re disappointed that we can’t bring good news to our British readers, FrenchEntrée is committed to bringing you all the information you need to enjoy your second home in France. Here are a few articles that might help:
If you have any further questions, we’re here to help and you can get in touch here!
What about the rest of the immigration bill?
You can read the full legal text of the Conseil Constitutionnel’s ruling here. We will take a look in more detail which other amendments were overruled and how the new bill may affect foreigners in France in next week’s News Digest, so keep a lookout for that.
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