PARIS — Emmanuel Macron’s contentious immigration bill sparked a rebellion over its ruthless approach to unwanted immigrants, but one group of visitors comes out on top: British second home-owners.
British citizens who own a second home in France will now be allowed to stay more than the 90 days agreed after Brexit, according to an amendment that was passed in the immigration bill on Tuesday.
It addresses a recurring complaint from wealthier expats who split their life between France and the U.K. Currently British citizens can only spend a total of 90 days in any rolling 180-day period on the continent. While they can already apply for ad-hoc long-term visas to stay longer, many report being put off by the paperwork.
The new long-term visa would be delivered automatically for Britons, according to the amendment, which goes against the grain of a bill that has tightened immigration rules in France. The draft legislation, which was passed with the support of the conservatives and the far-right, includes migration quotas, tighter rules for family visas and restricted access to benefits for newly arrived immigrants. A quarter of the MPs belonging to the French president’s coalition abstained or voted against their government’s bill.
During debates in the Senate last month, conservative Senator Philippe Bas made the case for easing residency rules for Britons, arguing mischievously that it would not be a migration “pull factor” as Brits don’t want to settle permanently in France. “Brexit isn’t their fault, but they have been punished by it!” he said. “Let them enjoy their second homes and spend their money in France,” he added.
Socialist Senator Corinne Narassiguin however appeared less impressed by the proposal, which was submitted by the conservatives. “We are rushing to rescue British second home-owners in France. For my Les Républicains colleagues, there are good and bad foreigners!” she said.
France’s Constitutional Court has yet to examine the bill before it is enacted.
Jason Wiels contributed reporting
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