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Mixed-nationality French-foreign couples complain of discrimination

Latest update : 2008-09-20

Married couples composed of a French citizen and a foreigner have fewer rights in France than if they were both foreign, according to a pressure group taking 13 cases before a discrimination watchdog.

Foreigners who marry French citizens have fewer rights in France than their counterparts in many other European countries, according to a pressure group.
Amoureux au Banc Public (ABP) spokesman Nicolas Ferran said 13 cases being put to the Halde, France’s discrimination watchdog, were the tip of the iceberg of a huge problem.
He said: “These thirteen cases are symbolic – we are dealing with literally hundreds of other couples.
“Every day there are expulsions of people who have no residency papers but are nevertheless married to French nationals.”
The APB maintains that toughening of immigration laws in France unfairly punishes many who fall in love and want to remain together.
A major issue is that many marriages celebrated outside the country are simply not recognized by the French State, leading to refusal to grant entry into the country and forced expulsions that drive a wedge into family life.
The APB says this situation leads to many couples living in constant fear of the authorities.
The organisation, which is supporting the 13 cases being put before the Halde, says Franco-foreign couples have fewer rights than nationals of other EU countries – a situation they say cannot be allowed to continue within the framework of Europe’s open borders.
It points out, for instance, that a German citizen has more chances of getting his spouse French residency documents than a French one.
One Frenchman, 60, who asked not to be named, said his wife is forced to reapply for her “Titre de Séjour” (residency permit) every year.
He said: “We have been together for ten years and married for three. The local authorities will only grant her her residency permit for a year at a time.
“If I was Spanish or Belgian this permit would be automatically accorded for five years, from the moment of our marriage.”
Last year the European Court of Justice stated that the right to live as a family is guaranteed, wherever and whenever the couple decided to get married.
This means that someone living in Europe and married to an EU citizen has the right to legal protection, wherever they come from.
However, this right only applies to Europeans who have moved to another European country.

Date created : 2008-09-17