A Trick Question: The Immigration Fonctionnaire v. The Immigration Attorney

Here is a question for Americans and other non-EU visitors and residents in France:

The immigration officer was moonlighting, and the immigration attorney was charging $100 an hour. They were each asked "How much income does a non-EU resident have to demonstrate to be able to live in France?" One answered "Minimum wage, about €15,000 for a couple." The other answered "About €40,000, or €20,000 for each person."

In both cases, the immigrant/visitor would have two choices of visa: Commercant or Retired.

Who said what?

Who was right?

= )

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The legal reply is that in order to live legally in France as a permanent resident the visitor must show evidence of an income equivalent to the SMIC (minimum wage) - I’m not being drawn into how much that is, but generally it’s about 10€ an hour, so at 140 hours a month is about 1500€). But this is not the case for handicapped or retired people, who must show the equivalent of the AAH Allocation Adulte Handicape, or ASPA Allocation de Solidarite pour Personnes Agees. (This is about 800€ a month).
My feeling is the Immigration Officer is the correct reference, being based in France and equipped with French guidelines. The attorney is probably an American national trying to facilitate the acquisition of French citizenship so he is erring on the side of caution in order to make the application more interesting for the French Immigration Officer, who only applies the rules and doesn’t make them.
A commerçant woud need to show a business gross income from which his or her salary would derive - so the 40 000 for a couple, or 20000 for a single person would apply to their business revenue. The retired applicant would need to show the level of Solidarite which is around 9000€ for a single person, 800€ a month.If they are dependant upon a person who already has French Citizenship, French Identity or is a permanent resident, they would need merely to be resident for 5 years without additional proofs of income ,


This is great, Jane, you are astute.
I am preparing to begin the process of obtaining a ‘merchant’ visa for residence in France. How did you become familiar with this process.

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What will happened in case they discover that asylum seeker and who obtained the asylum already was holding legal living and work permission in another European country the moment he applied for the asylum, but it was with other nationality since he has two different nationalities?

Who cares :slight_smile:

Please Jane if you could send me a little more info on this subject… where do I apply… how do I apply… and finally how much would it cost… thanks in advance…Andy

I received my merchant’s visa and have renewed once already for our second year of residence. Neither process was difficult, though it felt a bit like throwing it over the wall for its opaqueness.

Hi Roland, thank you for your complimentary response
I became informed by reading information available on various government sites, by trial and error, and by my own journey, with grown up family, having lived here for almost 20 years.

It helps to speak French fluently, and to have had dealings with ‘the system’, be it social, administrative, medical, municipal, educational, commercial, political, legal or financial, or any or all of these (and more!)
Much depends on an understanding of the French ‘savoir vivre’, as much as the ‘savoir faire’. One gets to know mindsets and how to behave (se comporter) around them, invoking this, or that, response.

I have had my faire share of run ins! These have taught me much about respective cultural attitudes and the necessity to have the minimum of decorum and diplomacy (la diplomatie) in one’s dealings with officialdom.

A polite, respectful attitude will get you most places where a sense of entitlement will quietly and firmly shut the door. It’s not so much what you have to do, as how you have to do it. (Not what you know, who you know, in UK or USA)

One has the sense that some British are seen as bratty, a bit thick, and needing attitude correction, like badly behaved children! So ‘brick walls’, unhelpfulness and lack of information cool the ‘entente cordiale’.

Study the rules, available information, the mindset, and you’ll earn respect. One accepted, British will find France has much to offer, as long as the spirit of ‘partage et echanger’ (‘sharing and exchanging, equitably’) is preserved. (Troc!). Noblesse oblige!

There is now a plethora of reliable information on applying for visas, and titres de séjour, for all nationalities not just British. Whether this has been stimulated by the chaos over Brexit who knows, but all the things that we had to search for in years gone by and now hugely more accessible.

Hi Ayman.

I am not an expert but here is the advice I would offer you (as always, housekeeping requires that you investigate how this applies in your case before doing or saying anything that might prejudice your position).

Please correct me if I’m wrong, or merely misunderstanding, but I believe you are speaking of someone, who might be yourself, who has already dual nationality, (perhaps mixed parents, or parents in one country / regime whilst born and raised in another. There are many ways in which this can become effective).
‘At the time of seeking asylum’

Perhaps the person has since determined one or another nationality, definitively?
In France, if you are seeking to become naturalised, a legal French resident or a permanent citizen with the same rights as a French person, you need to decide your status.

Flitting between being a guest ‘arbeiter’ in Germany, for example, and a seasonal worker in France, with tax coding, insurance and temporary papers, is only a protection against being required to leave the territory, while you are actively employed.

It doesn’t confer you the rights of citizenship or social security, but there are protections under the Geneva Convention and European Law, that all EEC members must comply with.

However, each member country can apply its own laws, where these are in conflict with European Law.

For example, equality of work opportunities, in principal, is frequently disregarded when the choice is between a foreign or a French applicant. Thus the work open to immigrants is more arduous, lower paid in spite of their high qualifications or skills, and jobs with higher pay and better conditions are offered to native workers.

If you are discovered to be pursuing two applications for identity papers and status under two nationalities, you could find yourself in the predicament of being sent back to your point of origin on entering the EEC. If this were Greece (Lesbos) Italy or Turkey, it would be catastrophic.

The applicant needs to decide, here in France, upon their definitive national origin or identity, (which one) and under which regime or country they will pursue their claim.

No chance to ‘hedge your bets’, or maximise opportunities for one or other countries to accueillir this or that nationality.

Even for EU citizens, if they claim French nationality, they are expected to renounce their own original nationality.

I don’t know about the other country’s national Social Security rules and regulations, (if you speak the language, you can research online using their government site, or copy paste and use Google translate to discover them).

Under the Social Security system here in France, effectively they (the SS) can clamp down very quickly if they suspect someone of abusing the generosity of the system put in place to support asylum seekers.

These are people in desperate need, fleeing for their lives from political turmoil, war, persecution or natural disaster. They take a dim view of ‘economic migrants’ attempting to drain France’s resources because they’re better than at home.

So, to answer your question, the person in that situation would need to evaluate their position in each country, their place in each society, their links to each of the two nationalities they are claiming, and decide where the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Other countries may be more flexible about keeping the dual nationalities whilst allowing a work permit and settled status. But their benefit system may be more rudimentary, there may be a higher level of independence required, ability to turn to different work ethics, resourcefulness, hard work, and yet, comparative freedom, more social diversity, opportunities, living there.

France has a very evolved social system, and it is hard for outsiders to prove they can be part of it. The requirements and rocedures can go on for years. There is excellent healthcare, however, education, social housing (eventually) , food banks and work opportunities.

But status is all, there is very little social climbing in France, particularly by , and once here, integrating into the wider community is sometimes difficult, for the children of not for the parents. There is also the danger of children being taken by the state if they don’t fit in easily.

Discussing these points with family or friends is advised (approach the relevant authority once the decision is reached).
Keeping one’s own counsel when working with a refugee agency is to be advised as once things are said they cannot be unsaid.

France does allow folk dual citizenship… allowing them to retain their original nationality alongside French…

However, I’m sure I’ve read it somewhere that, whilst in France… it is French Nationality which prevails.

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Hi Jane,
Since then (December 2016) we’ve successfully navigated the system and as of now are in possession of a renewable visa with a four-year duration. Since then, though, we needed to renew every year and it really wasn’t that difficult. In fact the French experience including the bureaucracy hasn’t been the biggest pain. What has been much more difficult is working with French ‘tradesmen’ who get excited when they get to charge an American much more than it’s worth…or who feel no obligation to even respond to phone calls or change requests, or anything that requires ‘work.’.

We are on our 5th year and most of our renovations are completed. I’m happy in our little village.

Take care and thank you.

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It is very annoying when you want to bulk buy something, but cannot because you are not an artisan, plus having to pay for their lunch when you are only having a sandwich.

I signed up for ‘pro accounts’ at several suppliers…cheaper prices. I used the SARL for our lodging business.