If no agreement is reached between the UK and the EU member countries, British nationals will no longer be EU citizens as of April 12 or May 22, 2019. What will happen to British nationals who would like to travel or work in France?
For newcomers into the French work market, third-country rules will apply, while for Britons residing in France, French authorities have recently provided a transitional scheme to secure their situation.
HR managers need to cautiously review the situation of each UK employee working on French territory or to be posted in France, to see if they comply with new legal environment post-Brexit.
Third-country rule for British newcomers
For newcomers, without further negotiated and more favourable measures, we shall consider the British citizens as any third-country national pertaining to their right of entry and employment in France. The French administration accepts non-EU national to come to work in France under conditions and restrictions.
For short stays, meaning less than 90 days per period of 180 days, the European Commission stated that in a “no-deal” Brexit scenario, they would offer visa-free travel to UK Citizens after the UK formally leaves the European Union.
Within the visa-free program, no visa would be required to visit Europe, but there are restrictions on the length and purpose of stay.
The visa-free program allows the beneficiary to stay for 90 days per period of 180 days.
The British citizens will also be subject to ESTIA. ESTIA is a future system designated to check the security credentials of travellers visiting EU member countries for business, tourism, medical or transit purposes. In December 2018, EU Commission confirmed ETIAS (E.U. Travel and Information Authorisation System) requirement for British Citizens, whether in a deal or no-deal situation.
But if British nationals come to carry out a paid job, they would be subject to work authorization and/or social formalities.
It is key for HR managers to be aware of this. Indeed, in the context of Brexit, and especially in highly regulated sectors, many UK companies are considering establishing legal entities in France and transferring some UK employees over. Others are considering using existing French entities but have some UK employees posted in France. In the past, this was easy to implement thanks to the freedom of movement and EU Directives. This will no longer be the case and therefore, before considering sending a UK employee in France, HR should add the work-permit items on their check-list.
Concessions for Britons already residing in France
British nationals who are already residing in France will have to check the regularity of their situation to live and / or work in France in case of hard Brexit.
The French government has published an Ordinance dated February 6, 2019 regulating the conditions applying post-Brexit in a no-deal situation for British citizens who are already living in France.
French authorities have implemented a transitional scheme and favourable conditions of residence and work in France for those Britons in different situations: legal representatives of companies, employees, lawyers, students, retirees and dependents.
In particular, French authorities would not require them to have the usual obligation of long-stay entry visa or to sign a Republican Integration Contract (CIR).
Moreover, if British nationals and their family have stayed for more than five years in France, a ten-year residence card could be granted to them. For those who have less than 5-year residence, their situation will be examined on the basis of existing French residence permits, the conditions of allocation will be lightened, and the first residency permit will have a multi-year validity straight away.
For British nationals who are carrying a regulated activity in France, the recognition of professional qualifications will be dealt with under the framework of Directive 2005/36 /EC. For lawyers, the transitional period will be one year.
However, they may benefit from derogations and a grace period of up to one year, provided that the UK grants similar facilities to French nationals living in Great Britain.
Again, HR managers need to be aware of this and should closely monitor further developments in this area, to ensure compliance. Indeed, employing an employee who is not duly authorized to work in France creates high risk for the employing company and could even lead to criminal proceedings.