Risk question concerning EU Carte de séjour

A couple I know and love, one an EU citizen, the other a Brit, have a maison secondaire in France, but live in the UK. They are applying for a carte de séjour for the family member of an EU citizen, basically in order that they can visit their French house as often as they want, without regard to Schengen 90 in 180 day counting limits etc……

Putting aside ethical/ morality issues PLEASE(!) (which for the avoidance of all doubt I don’t dismiss either lightly or condone etc etc) what risks in practice are they running, assuming they have the necessary proof of financial resources, medical cover, marriage certificate, passports, justificatifs for French house etc etc? Liability to French Tax on worldwide income? Sanctions on future visits? Fines? The EU directive itself (2004/38/EC) seems curiously vague/silent on sanctions for those in breach, other than for those who present a risk to public order/ a financial burden to the host state. There is a single reference to proof of residence, but in the main it focuses on the ‘right of residence’ which is slightly different. Grateful for any practical consequences to convey should my advice be sought……

I understand your concerns, but I took a quick look at the Fr Gov guidelines and it says that an EU person can have their spouse/kids with them “whatever their nationality…”

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If they do not live here and pretend they do to obtain a titres de séjour they risk two years in prison and a €30,000 fine for

In addition if they then don’t declare and pay tax in France they risk further fines /rpison sentence for tax fraud.

It is very simple for the tax office to cross-check lists of people being given a carte de séjour and tax records, so it is likely to be found out at some point.

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Do you think the visa would be issued? I very much doubt it. For family reunifications visas, the EU spouse has to be established in France at the time of application and the visa is issued to enable family members to join them. You cannot apply for this type of visa while you are both living outside the country. Surely the processing authority will run routine checks and if the admin database has no record of the EU spouse - not currently known to CPAM, not currently know to the fisc, shown on the property tax database as a second home owner - it will conclude that the home in France has been a second home up to now, and in the absence of any firm evidence that the person has recently returned to live in France (e.g. an employment contract) they would not issue the visa. I imagine that the documents they would submit as evidence of financial resources and medical cover would in fact show a UK address, a UK based income etc, and would be private health insurance rather than affiliation to the French system, which would tend to prove that the spouse is not established in France rather than that (s)he is.

So assuming they are not intending to forge official documents I think it is a hypothetical situation, you need not worry too much about fines because the system does have built in protections against abuse and it is unlikely it will let them do this.

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Sadly a lot of this is “sur l’honneur”. So if you don’t read the small print of what you are signing to realise that you are stating that this is a genuine application then it could quite possibly be granted.

It seems that the French were being remarkably flexible in the applications for WARP cards, and very little proof demanded apart from (eg) a utility bill. So many stories of people getting cards who had no right to them. I don’t know whether they have returned to type and are now being meticulous again, but with a degree of chutzpah I think it entirely possible for people to be successful in their applications.

The French govt site does say the EU person can be “accompanied or joined in France…” by a non-EU spouse… so I really don’t see why there should need to be any jiggery pokery…

Isn’t there a straight-forward application for CdS (or whatever they call it…) for the non-EU-spouse to accompany the EU-spouse to France… ???

Indeed but I think WARP cards were a thing apart, new rules and a new process and the EU looking over France’s shoulder to make sure nobody got upset. This is nothing to do with the WA, it is a normal application process with a well established procedure.
You may well be right but I do not see the logic.

Actually thinking about it again, do they even need a visa?

Edit- of course they do need one as non -EU. Amd the requirments are extremely simple except that they need to prove,

  • Justificatif du droit au séjour de l’Européen que vous rejoignez en France (par exemple : contrat de travail, preuves de ressources, assurance maladie, carte d’étudiant)

Which could be where it all falls apart.

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A non-EU spouse can join their EU spouse in any EU country. They need to apply within 90 days of arrival to their local prefecture under French rules.

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Just for clarity, I believe the OP’s acquaintances want a CdS to enable them to visit their holiday home whenever they want and have no intention of living here. If that is truly the idea then legally a ‘long stay visa’ is the route to take IMO.


Thank you very much everyone for your thoughtful, helpful comments, which I will summarise and offer to the couple for their consideration prior to their taking any action. Forewarned is forearmed etc!

I wonder if this means that the family member of an EU citizen, who is not an EU citizen themselves, wants to be able to visit the house at will whether of not the EU citizen owner is present or not. If so I would have thought it is not allowed as they would not be ‘accompanied or joined’.

As I said, just wondering, according to the way I read it. :smiley:

If the couple concerned are absolutely determined to proceed with applying for an EU family member CdS, knowing of the risks, and were to ask my advice,… based on all your comments, I would advise that any statements they make must obviously be accurate, truthful, not misleading etc, and that they must be prepared for searching questions if cross checks are made vs local tax office records etc.

@tim17 is correct in his assumption that the couple want to visit as often as possible, in excess of Schengen 90 day counting limits, without living here in France, and I agree that the long stay visa route is the most legally secure route. I suspect that the need for annual renewal of this visa, and the requirements for multiple fun packed trips to S London (to the premises of the company to whom the French Embassy has outsourced its UK visa operations) may well influence the decision to seek a CdS direct from their prefecture France.

@David_Spardo agreed, there is no intention for the non EU spouse to visit unaccompanied

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The downfall there is that it is a long stay visa, I’m not sure how well suited it is to periodic visits that might just happen to go over the 90/180 rule.

However unless I’ve missed something (likely, I admit) there is a discrepancy - an EU citizen is entitled to be accompanied by their spouse when visiting any country in the EU, yet Schengen says they (the spouse) can only do so on the 90/180 basis - which means there is a point where continued stay by the EU citizen is legal and continued stay by their spouse is not.

Isn’t the spouse of an EU citizen allowed to accompany them when they visit the EU? I believe it is if the EU citizen has a residency or similar to carte de sejour for another EU country. Maybe that is the case with your friend.
Let’s hope they change that stupid rule and let us come to France for 180 days per annum as and when we wish !

Non-EU spouses are of course allowed to come with their EU family member. They just need to get a card or a visa to avoid the 90/180 rule.

It is perfectly OK under the U.K./France Tax Treaty for you to opt to remain a U.K. Fiscal Resident i.e. your principal tax authority is HMRC. Providing
of course you a) satisfy the rules of the tax treaty e.g. sufficient tier points b) any income earnt in France is declared to impots.gouv. It has nothing to do with a Carte de Sejour or your residence status, so please everyone do not be hoodwinked by various companies trying to get you to transfer pension and investments to them in France and then charge you 3% per annum for FA. PLEASE LOOK VERY CAREFULLY AT THE TAX TREATY FIRST.

Yes of course. But the subject of this thread is the criteria to legally obtain a French carte de séjour, and dual tax residence is irrelevant to that. Tax and residence are separate issues - often intertwined, but not necessarily.

(i’ve never quite understood why anyone would want to remain a UK fiscal resident - we pay less tax here than we did in UK. But then we don’t have SIPP or these complex financial things)

Jane, I know not quite on thread but a couple of comments are suggestive that the misconception of Physical Residency is the same as Fiscal Residency and this is a common mistake and belief with a lot of CdS holders. As for why would anyone not want to become French Fiscally Resident when there are loads of very very good reasons depending on your circumstances not to do so. Advice from large financial advisor companies in France is sign up for an Assurance Vie as soon as possible - good in loads of circumstances but there is usually a heavy penalty in annual fees. I know of people who have had an AV for 15 years and its value is nearly same as when it started, the only gain they could possibly make is from the exchange rate change if it was all converted back to GBP. My SIPP has more than doubled in 15 years, why would I want to move it to France if at some time in my life I move back to the UK to be close to family.

Jane, a good challenge about why you might want to be a UK tax resident… Amongst other items, you can build up, and realise a substantial investment portfolio without any income tax, capital gains tax (CGT) or social security,(and no tax reporting obligation on tax returns) through investing in ISAs (Individual Savings Accounts). You can realise up to @£25k a year of gains free of CGT a year as a couple (and likely that there is no tax reporting obligation, depending on overall turnover)…You can release up to 25% of your pension funds free of tax/social security (no reporting either), You can make very substantial tax deductible donations to charity etc through Gift Aid. I agree with you though that it is quite surprising how modest the income tax liabilities are here, on for example pension income, relative to what you might pay on the same in the UK…