With under a year to go until the UK leaves the EU, British expats living in France are trying to cement their futures in the country. Whilst the general belief is that any British expats living in EU countries will continue to do so as they are now, it appears few are willing to take that risk and want a permanent solution in fear of the worst.
Since the Brexit result was released the numbers of British nationals applying to become French citizens has skyrocketed. In 2015 only 386 Brits applied for citizenship. This rose to 1,363 in 2016 as further uncertainty set in. Last year, 2017, saw applicants soar again, with 3,173 Brits attempting to regain control over their futures in France. As the Brexit date draws closer and closer it is expected that 2018 will see this number increase again.
It is estimated there are between 150,000 and 200,000 British expats living in France, so 2017’s residency application total is merely a drop in the ocean. Could this indicate many are unwilling to give up their British nationality to 100% cement their future in the country they live and work in?
‘Remain’ protest group Remain in France Together conducted research involving British expats in France. They discovered that many British people are considering permanent residency in France as a last resort if their rights to remain working and living in France as revoked post-Brexit. Reports from a French newspaper also reported that healthcare and benefits has also played an important role in British expats plans. Many expats who have applied for citizenship have done so because they are estranged to the UK and the political path it is now following, citing much more in common with the French way of thinking.
French residency applications require countless forms of documentation which must be translated into French. Expats will also be required to take a French language test. The entire process can take up to 18 months so expats living in France now will unlikely be granted permanent residency ahead of Brexit if they have not started the process already.