I'm non-EU, currently living in Marseille with my British partner. We are getting married in the fall. We have a lease together for the place we live in. I currently do not have a French visa or legal status here.

I need to travel to Bilbao for work before we get married, and I'm unsure whether to travel by plane, because I know that at the Marseille airport they randomly enforce immigration passport control even for flights within the EU. If they check my passport, they will see I have overstayed in France and I have no tangible proof of my relationship with my fianceé other than our rent lease and receipts, and by the time of my trip we will have submitted our marriage dossier, so I suppose I will have some proof of that.

Can anyone advise if it's recommended I book a flight? Will immigration detain me? Or give me a fine? Should I not travel at all?

Thanks a lot.

  • If you're living and working illegally in France then you're in a precarious position. If you come to the attention of the authorities they could well deport you. Submitting the paperwork for your marriage might be enough to start that process. Bilbao aside, you should seek to normalise your status in France without delay.
    – user79658
    Sep 24 '18 at 18:18
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    Might also want to reconsider posting admitting that you're currently breaking the law with your full name and a photo of your face in the same post. I don't think the French authorities are checking, but still. Sep 24 '18 at 18:41
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    Also, I'm not sure they would accept your marriage dossier without a valid titre de sejour. That might get the authorities interested in you. You should really find a way to fix your situation before even attempting that, much less something as risky as travelling to Spain. Sep 24 '18 at 18:59
  • @lafemmecosmique that is true, but since the end result of getting married to a British citizen will be a right to live and work in France, it's also possible that the authorities won't bother deporting her. As far as I can see, the only effect it would have would be to ruin her wedding plans, which they certainly might want to do out of spite, but if she gets married elsewhere she'll just come right back, legally.
    – phoog
    Sep 24 '18 at 20:28
  • @phoog I would hope so. IME with the pref authorities, they seem to take ages to get ANYTHING done and I'd hope they wouldn't see a woman getting married as any immediate threat, but still. If she wants to become French later on, she should regularise her situation asap. peace of mind, and all that Sep 25 '18 at 7:01

I'm not going to make a recommendation, since that requires weighing the risks against the importance of the trip to Bilbao, but I will say a few words about the risks.

If the alternative to traveling by plane is to travel by train, bus, or car, then you should of course weigh the risk of being checked near the land border against the risk of being checked in the airport. It may actually be higher on trains and buses than in the airport. My experience crossing the French border by train, from Germany, about 15 years ago, may not be particularly relevant, but it does suggest that you are more likely to be checked on a train than in an airport.

You should also consider the documentation requirements that some air carriers have for non-EU citizens (Ryanair is notorious on this site for these requirements; I'm not sure about other carriers). Depending on the carrier, you may be unable to board the plane. I do not know whether these carriers report passengers who lack adequate documents to the authorities.

The consequences of getting caught could be severe. If they decide that your relationship does not entitle you to freedom of movement, they will probably remove you to your country of citizenship, which could mean that you would have to cancel your wedding and plan it for another time or place.

  • Thanks @phoog for your unbiased, non-judgmental and actually helpful response. Best Sep 24 '18 at 19:56

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