Monday, October 26

“You have to prove your love by providing bills”: unmarried binational couples put to the test by closed borders

Despite the mask, we can guess their broad smile. Stéphanie, a young Argentinian with sparkling eyes, poses for a selfie with her French companion, a tall brown guy tattooed on his arm. The photo, posted on October 9 on the Facebook group Love is not tourism France “, Is accompanied by the comment: ” Finally ! I managed to reach my boyfriend after [une séparation de] six months by the pandemic and the closing of the borders. Good luck to all ! “

For these two lovebirds, the test of the distance was long and painful, but the story ended well. This is far from being the case for the majority of some 2,000 binational couples who are neither married nor in civil partnership. With the global Covid-19 epidemic, most of them found themselves stranded in their country, far from their spouse. And as their relations are not officially recognized by the French administrative authorities, they were unable to benefit from a family visa.

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To facilitate the reunion of these French and foreign couples, the Secretary of State in charge of tourism and French people living abroad, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, announced in early August the establishment of a first derogatory procedure. But judged “Too complicated”, it has never been established within the consular network. All the rest of the summer, the case remained in abeyance, to the dismay of these lovers reduced to video calls.

The subject finally returned to the table on September 17. The Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, then counted on the imminent implementation of the first laissez-passer, by “Weekend, beginning of next week”, recognizing that the procedure imagined in early August was not “Not satisfactory”.

“The government has created a real gas factory”

Except that in practice, this second version is experiencing serious hitches. Paola Chapdelaine, one of the representatives of the international collective Love is not tourism, which has been alerting to the situation of these couples since the beginning of June, believes that “The government has created a real gas factory”. Innocent Tswamuno, his partner of Zimbabwean origin, has lived in New York for fifteen years. The last time they saw each other was January 24. “An eternity”, sighs the young woman, who is annoyed by the “Incredible slowness of the process”. “Above all, the eligibility criteria for this pass are much too restrictive”, she emphasizes.

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