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Where and how can I legally challenge this issue:

Short version: after 12 months and 4 appointments the French authorities refused to give a carte de séjour to my spouse. I am an EU citizen, working in France as a research fellow (post-doc fellow) in a big university. My spouse is a non-EU citizen. According to EU regulations:

To obtain a residence card, they will need:

  • a valid passport
  • your registration certificate as an EU national or any other proof of your residence in the country
  • proof of the family relationship with you (such as a marriage or birth certificate)

The authorities should make their decision to issue a residence card or not within 6 months.

Longer version:

  • During the first appointment with French authorities, they took all the documents, checked, took fingerprints etc, gave a temporary residence card with a duration of 6 months and gave us another appointment for after 6 months (at the préfecture de police) together with a récépissé allowing us to wait unil the issue of the actual card.

  • We went after 6 months and they asked again for all the documents. We said that no one told us to bring again all the documents with us, and they gave us another appointment, 3 months after.

  • We went to the third appointment armed with all documents (the same as with the first appointment). They checked and said that the documents are not enough. They asked for (1) proof of health insurance for both me and my spouse, (2) apartment/rental insurance, and (3) bank statements of our savings and gave us a new appointment 3 months after (so, 12 months after the original appointment). When I protested that is illegal to ask for the extra 3 documents they replied "that's your problem, not ours".

  • Anyway, we went on the fourth appointment with all documents (certified again, since they need the documents to be no older than 3 months) and the worker finally told that our file was complete and that my spouse should get a carte de séjour. However, there is nothing that he can do because his boss (the head of the agency) decided not to give us on the grounds that I am a *student*. I said I am a PostDoc and she replied "irrelevant". I asked how this is relevant and she went away. They gave us an appointment again in 3 months (so, in total, 15 months after the first one) to bring again the same documents and see then what can happen.

  • We did not attend the last appointment as we have relocated elsewhere (I applied for and got another academic position in another EU country that gave my spouse the residence card within 30 minutes).

  • I made a case on SOLVIT (online EU complain platform). They answered within 6 months with a historical account of the process that was completely inaccurate in many places (to put it politely). They did not offer apologies, not even acknowledging the fact that according to EU regulations, all these are illegal. They said than we should get the carte de sejour on our next appointment. I replied with a point-by-point rebuttal together with evidence on all the inaccuracies and I informed that that I want to take the legal road to resolve the issue. I got a reply that the French authorities do not want to pursue the matter further and the case is closed.

How can I make a legal case against this obvious case of misuse of power and ignoring the straightforward EU regulations? Is there any way to sue this particular agency and ask for compensation (we had to relocate because of that)? Is there anything else that can be done to avoid this unnecessary (the regulations are pretty clear) situation?

  • You might want to ask on Law. I don't think there is much you can do in the way of compensation; as far as I'm aware the legal system is primarily geared towards overcoming the refusal to issue the permit. But since your spouse no longer wants the permit, nor even qualifies for it, there's probably little point in pursuing the matter. – phoog Aug 7 '18 at 14:56
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    Although I assume all of the facts you've presented are true, I think you unfortunately jumped the gun by relocating. if you really wanted to fight this you should have remained in France. At this point in time there's really nothing for the French to do, since you no longer need (or want) their carte de sejour. – brhans Aug 7 '18 at 15:30
  • @brhans Thanks. The question is not about getting the permit now, but what can be lawfully done against the authorities who unlawfully refused the permit against a bunch of EU laws and against the principle of freedom of movement. The issue should, in principle, be beyond individual relocation as this does not stop them behaving like that to other citizens and indeed it was the reason for relocation. Fortunately, I have all the transcripts to back my case. – PsySp Aug 7 '18 at 15:40
  • @phoog Thanks you. Yes, I might consider cross-posting it on Law.stackexchange. – PsySp Aug 7 '18 at 15:41
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    I think the "problem" now is that the courts can't do anything to remedy the situation, because the situation no longer exists. Possibly there could be some sort of administrative punishment, but that would probably have to go through whatever body is responsible for the oversight of whichever authority acted improperly. – brhans Aug 7 '18 at 16:38
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Short answer: There is nothing you can do.

If you want to have your rights recognized (i.e. return to France and get a residence card), there are steps you could take. If you're hoping to bring a case to get some sort of recognition that what happened was illegal (which, going by your description, it most definitely was) or get compensation, that's not possible. Period.

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    Thank you. What I would like is acknowledgement of the (obviously) illegal practices such that they will not be repeated to others. Also, some administrative punishment (whatever that means) to the responsible person of all these unlawful acts. – PsySp Aug 7 '18 at 19:25
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    @PsySp Like I said, there is really nothing to be done. Administrative sanctions would be sanctions the administration takes, the only way to get that would be to write a letter to the supervisor of the people you were dealing with all the way to the préfet de police and the minister. The standard to find a public servant individually liable in front of the courts is extremely high, as far as the justice system is concerned, you're dealing with the whole state. You can appeal decisions that violate your rights but it's not a matter between you and the individuals who processed your case. – Gala Aug 8 '18 at 6:44
  • But in this case, without getting into the technicalities of how the system works, you have no standing to appeal the decision because you don't want a residence card anymore, so you have no intérêt à agir. Generally speaking, providing recognition of what was right or not is not the purpose of the legal system. If you read carefully, the person who handled your SOLVIT complaint understood the decision was illegal, that's why they yielded and offered a carte de séjour. It's not their job to apologize or anything like that and they know you have no legal road to obtain that. – Gala Aug 8 '18 at 6:57
  • Sorry about my use of the word “administration” in “sanction the administration takes” above, the proper translation for the French word “administration” would be “government”. – Gala Aug 8 '18 at 6:58
  • Can you please incorporate the valuable comments into your answer? Then I can accept it. I do not know the workings of the law, but I thought some kind of punishment/whatever could be possible, as well as some kind of compensation given that we were forced to relocate because of that. On the other hand, one may argue that the French state will loose more than me (I have an academic career elsewhere in a country that obviously wants me to stay and contribute) – PsySp Aug 8 '18 at 8:03

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