As we all know, since the monumental moment when the UK exited the EU in 2021, the implications for UK nationals seeking to live, work, or travel in Europe have been huge. With around 148,000 Brits residing in France and an additional 10 million visiting each year, understanding the new rules and regulations is crucial.
Of course, this isn't new information, yet despite leaving nearly 2 years ago, there is still mass confusion regarding visas and work permits. Brexit has undeniably shifted the landscape. Yet, while the dynamics have changed, the connection between the UK and France remains robust.
We believe the more reliable and correct information circulating, the better. So, in continuation of our blog post from August last year, Work Visas & Brexit: A Big Mess, we're here with some fresh updates focusing on seasonal worker visas and CDS. In this blog, we'll be sharing these changes and what they mean for UK nationals in 2023, alongside some advice given to us directly from the French Office of Immigration Integration (OFII)
A Major Change for Seasonal Workers – Medical Visits
In an effort to simplify the process, the system has now streamlined how medical procedures are processed for seasonal staff. Before, all seasonal workers were required to complete a medical in France. This has all changed now, and seasonal staff can now complete their mandatory medical visit in the UK prior to their departure for France. This is a stark contrast to earlier mandates and is definitely a step in the right direction. Please note this new procedure also applies to returning staff who never finalised their multi-annual residence permit the previous season and who wish to continue with their existing CDS.
New Procedure for Medical Visits
OFII has helpfully provided a walk-through of the new procedure to make it as painless as possible, which you can find below:
Let's summarise this new pathway:
1. Initial steps in the UK for Seasonal workers
The UK company receives a work permit for UK seasonal workers. After obtaining the work permit, the UK seasonal worker has to apply for a visa unless they already have a CDS procedure underway from the previous year that was never completed. All workers, both returning and new seasonnaires, will need to make an appointment with their GP, who will then complete and sign a medical certificate for the worker. A local GP must fill out the OFII medical form before the person leaves the UK.
2. Upon arrival in the Three Valleys
Upon arriving in France, the first step for workers is to send the medical certificate signed by their GP, a copy of their visa, and entry stamp to OFII Grenoble by post with the tag "secret médical". This can also be done via email.
Note: Based on the medical certificate signed by the GP, the OFII doctors will issue a French OFII medical certificate. This certificate will then be sent by post to the seasonal worker's employer, who is responsible for handing it over to the worker.
3. The final step at the prefecture
When the worker visits the Prefecture of Chambéry to collect their residence permit, they must present the OFII medical certificate.
Are you returning seasonal staff?
We personally saw many staff from last winter face hiccups in obtaining their CDS pluriannuelle - travailleur saisonnier, largely due to missed medical visits or inability to secure an appointment at the Préfécture for card collection. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back and after interrogating various sources, we have been told by OFII Grenoble themselves:
If you’re in the situation where you didn't obtain your OFII medical certificate before departing France but plan to return the next season, an e-mail can be sent to email@example.com to book an appointment for collecting the "seasonal" residence permit. The same goes for those who have already started the procedure and have what they call a “récipissé de demande de carte de séjour”.
At this point, it seems you can journey to France without a visa and obtain your card when you arrive by presenting your essential documentation, including your passport, a new work permit for the upcoming seasonal contract, your UK OFII medical certificate, and paying an electronic "titre pour étranger" tax stamp worth 75 euros. This stamp can be acquired online at timbres.impots.gouv.fr or at local tobacconists.
The good news? A new visa isn't necessary (although a fresh work permit is – sorry about that).
As always, we're here to guide you in obtaining work permits and visas for yourself or your team. Our main advice is to kickstart the procedure well in advance - on average, it's a two-month affair. With that being said, it's important to note that the recruitment protocol for non-EU passport holders remains unchanged: Companies have to advertise roles for a minimum of 3 weeks on Pole Emploi and validate (with substantial documentation) that a suitable French candidate was not found.
Brexit has definitely reshuffled the cards, and we're feeling the effects even in 2023, but with the right guidance and updated information, navigating through the changes becomes much easier. Stay informed, stay updated, and see you in our next post.