July 10, 2013

Two major immigration changes have been announced by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) recently that may affect many employees seeking to work and reside in France.

  1. With France’s recent legalization of same-sex marriage, same-sex spouses of foreign nationals employed in France are now eligible for all immigration benefits.
  2. Several French departments have begun to issue the EU-mandated biometric residence permits. It is anticipated that all 96 departments throughout the country will implement these procedures by the end of 2013.

What’s Changed?

Same-Sex Couples Eligible for Immigration Benefits

France’s legalization of same-sex marriage in May has begun to enact changes to their immigration system, especially in regards to the recognition and eligibility for same-sex spouses to accompany their partners on assignment in France.

Beginning immediately, French and/or EU nationals residing in France may now sponsor a same-sex spouse for family-based visa and residence permit procedures. Similarly, foreign nationals on temporary work assignment in France are now eligible to be accompanied by their same-sex married partner under the same rules and regulations afforded to opposite-sex married partners.

To qualify for immigration benefits, however, same-sex marriages must either take place in France or be duly recognized by the country in which the marriage took place. These qualifications may present some legal “grey-areas,” as same-sex marriage is still only legally recognized by a handful of countries.

For those unmarried couples, there will be other avenues through which an unmarried same-sex partner may accompany his/her spouse to France. Please coordinate with your Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialist if this is the case.

Rollout of Biometric Residence Cards

What is an eAT Card?

Pursuant to Council Regulations (EC) nos. 1030/2002 and 380/2008 all 27 European Union (EU)-member states are required to introduce the electronic residence permit (“e-residence permit”). This is designed to standardize all EU-member country residence permits by providing the permit holder’s biographic and biometric information and reducing incidence of fraudulent documentation.

The eAT card contains encrypted data containing the holder’s biometric information (i.e., digital photo and two fingerprint impressions for individuals age six and over) and any additional information considered relevant to establishing the card-holder’s identification.  The electronic chip carries the card-holder’s proof of identity and also offers an electronic signature function.

In France, eAT cards will be issued valid for up to five years.

Gradual Implementation throughout 2013

At the time of this writing, France has continued to gradually implement the procedures with seven of the 96 French departments now issuing the biometric residence cards:

  1. Aples-Maritimes;
  2. Essonne;
  3. Hauts-de-Seine;
  4. Loire-Atlantique;
  5. Puy-de-Dôme;
  6. Saône-et-Loire; and
  7. Seine-et-Marne.

It is anticipated that all French departments will roll out the eAT cards by the end of 2013.

As they contain personal biometric data, foreign nationals will need to appear in-person to apply for their eAT cards and undergo fingerprinting. Processing times have not yet been standardized as immigration officials throughout the country continue to streamline the adjudication and issuing procedures.

Please note: Currently, Intra-Company Transferees, EU Blue Card holders, and Skills and Talents permit holders (and their accompanying dependents) will not be required to obtain these new biometric identity cards until all French departments have implemented the procedures.


Same-Sex Couples Eligible for Immigration Benefits

Employers should be aware of this significant change as it may directly affect LGBT employees and their spouses who currently reside in France, as well as future LGBT employees who may wish to be accompanied by their same-sex partner.

Please coordinate with your Pro-Link GLOBAL Immigration Specialist if you have any employees who may be affected by this change to ensure they are in the proper immigration status during their stay in France.

Rollout of Biometric Residence Permits

Although many companies will be familiar with the biometric residence permits from other EU countries, employers should still note the gradual rollout throughout France.

As this is a new process for immigration officers in France, processing times will be subject to sudden and unexpected changes. Employers, assignees, and accompanying dependents should keep their travel dates flexible while the French authorities streamline the processes throughout the next year.


Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Pro-Link GLOBAL’s Knowledge Management team. Pro-Link GLOBAL worked with our PLG | KGNM Correspondent Office in France to provide you this update.

Information contained in this Global Brief is prepared using information obtained from various media outlets, government publications and our KGNM network of immigration professionals. Written permission from the copyright owner and any other rights holders must be obtained for any reuse of any content posted or published by Pro-Link GLOBAL that extends beyond fair use or other statutory exemptions. Furthermore, responsibility for the determination of the copyright status and securing permission rests with those persons wishing to reuse the materials. Interested parties are welcome to contact the Knowledge Management Department (km@pro-linkglobal.com) with any additional requests for information or to request reproduction of this material.

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