Can someone with a non-European nationality and a French 'carte de séjour' freely enter and travel (particularly by air) from France after the unfortunate events?

I have been checking the news, some of them said Schengen visas are banned but none say anything about carte de séjour holders. If I knew earlier I wouldn't have booked but it is too late now and I am worried I might be able to go out but not come in again. I am a student so it will be a real inconvenience if such thing happens.

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    @audionuma, the main purpose of the Schengen area is that people who are lawfully inside can cross the internal borders without having to wait at customs/immigration checks. To make that happen, there are simply no routine checks, but there may be spot checks, and people who cross borders are required to carry the papers and to show them on on demand. A reintroduction of checkpoints will be an inconvenience for everybody who travels, and even more of an invonvenience to people who may be victim of racial profiling, but people (of whatever nationality) with valid papers can still pass.
    – o.m.
    Nov 16 '15 at 6:50
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    Well we can only get an approximate answer from the available info. And it was well summarized. Actually, I will call the 'mairie' of the city I am in as well as the 'prefecture' to ask also. Nov 16 '15 at 11:44
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    I am sitting here with tickets bought Friday afternoon, for this week. And unlike for you, for me it is not okay to be turned back from the airport. I don't think the question is answered yet in a way that is generally satisfactory for people having this concern, even if you are personally happy. In the very least we need an answer from someone who has actually crossed the border since Saturday. Putting in that green checkmark discourages further answers.
    – Szabolcs
    Nov 16 '15 at 13:24
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    @Szabolcs The answers and comments cover your case completely. "Par ailleurs, le Président de la République a décidé le rétablissement immédiat des contrôles aux frontières." ("In addition, the president of the republic has decided the immediate reintroduction of border controls"), which "only implies increased checks, not that the rules about who is allowed to enter or not have changed". Furthermore, that the asker used a checkmark to show that his question is answered shouldn't stop you from opening another question, in which you clearly state why yours is different from this case.
    – Alexander
    Nov 16 '15 at 14:00
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    Crossing the border by car/truck is fine. You can be (as always) subject to a random check. Source: multiple friends working in France (I live an hour from the northern border). I cannot comment on airports as I do not have any friends flying there. Update: friends in Nice didn't have problems flying home.
    – Belle
    Nov 16 '15 at 15:43

I looked for official information about this from a French government source, but did not find anything. I may not have identified the correct agency, but there was nothing obvious on the web sites of the Interior and Foreign Affairs ministries, nor on that of the Douane.

According to the UK official foreign travel advice (emphasis added):

On Friday 13 November, a number of terrorist incidents took place in Paris resulting in widespread casualties. British nationals are advised to exercise caution in public places and follow the advice of the local authorities. French authorities have heightened security measures due to a risk of further attacks. The advice of the Paris Police is currently to keep movement around town to a minimum. Systematic border control checks have been implemented at all entry points into France. A national state of emergency and a three-day period of mourning have been declared (14-16 November). Public gatherings, the flying of drones and use of fireworks in the Ile de France region (Paris and surrounding area) have been prohibited.

Source: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france

This should mean that you are legally free to travel in and around Paris and within France as usual, although you are advised to do so only when necessary. It should also mean that you, like everybody else, are guaranteed to be subjected to scrutiny at the border when you enter (and probably also when you leave) France. (Normally, if you are travelling across a land border, you have only a chance of being asked for your papers in a random check.) I guess that your experience with the border guard should be similar whether you are entering by an air or sea port or crossing the border on land, though if they decide to check you out more thoroughly when you're traveling by train, they might have to take you off the train so they can get to their data systems.

It would be nice to know from someone who has done it whether any of this is true.

Note that there is no mention of changing the entry requirements. Holders of Schengen visas, residence permits, etc., are therefore not being categorically excluded from the country. I have read news reports of "closed borders," just as there were reports of "closed borders" in Germany and Austria a few months ago. This is just incorrect terminology that news media are using to describe the situation. In the case of Germany and Austria, I also remember reading about "suspending the Schengen agreement" which is similarly inaccurate, because the temporary reimposition of systematic border checks is in fact something the agreement explicitly provides for. (An article describing this in French can be found at www.lemonde.fr.)

As a practical matter, however, assuming your profile name and picture reflect your real name and appearance, there is probably a greater chance that you would be subjected to unreasonable scrutiny, or, worse, that you might unreasonably be refused entry or otherwise detained at the border. I do not know the French border services well enough to predict how they will behave in the current environment. If I were you, I would try to find actual stories of young Muslims who have crossed the border, to find out how it has gone for them.

My worries in this matter are largely informed by stories I've heard from mostly South Asian friends who lived in the US immediately after the 2001 terrorist attacks, and by my own observations of airport security as I flew between Europe and the US several times a year in the years since 2001. I did not travel much in France in the immediate aftermath, so I can't say whether the blatant profiling I saw occasionally in other European countries also happened there in those days, and I certainly cannot say whether it would happen there now.

Of course, if you're singled out for closer scrutiny because of your appearance, it could be as minor as an extra question or two, or a slightly longer wait during extra database checking, or it could be more significant.

If anyone has personal experience of these newly-implemented systematic border checks, it will be most helpful to let us know about your experiences in a comment or an answer.

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    @AbdallahSobehy Certainly the stronger your ties with France, the more likely you are to be seen favorably by French (and indeed Italian) authorities. It may be overcautious, but it might be a good idea to bring the phone number of a French lawyer in case things get really bad anywhere. We can of course speculate about whether it will work in your favor that you are Egyptian traveling by air in a time when focus is on Syrians traveling by land, but I suspect that the more significant factor in how you're treated will be the people who check your passport, which you can't do much about.
    – phoog
    Nov 16 '15 at 8:04
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    @AbdallahSobehy good luck, and please come back and post an answer after your trip, describing your experiences.
    – phoog
    Nov 16 '15 at 8:08
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    (+1) Excellent summary. One official source is the statement from the French president after the emergency cabinet meeting in the night from November 13 to 14: "Par ailleurs, le Président de la République a décidé le rétablissement immédiat des contrôles aux frontières." After that, I have heard many rumours about France "closing its borders" or "suspending the Schengen agreement" but as you explained that's just sloppy terminology, the statement only implies increased checks, not that the rules about who is allowed to enter or not have changed.
    – Relaxed
    Nov 16 '15 at 9:22
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    I just noticed I forgot to post a link. Typically for France, the big announcements are not to be found on the website of the relevant ministries or agencies but on elysee.fr.
    – Relaxed
    Nov 16 '15 at 9:27
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    @AbdallahSobehy as you have a carte de séjour I think that they would let you in unless they have sufficient evidence to arrest you, in which case they will arrest you and you can challenge this in the legal system. For an innocent person, such a worst-case scenario is likely to happen only in cases of mistaken identity. If the atmosphere becomes irrational, however, that might change, but so far I have not seen any indication of such irrationality. I am in New York, though, so observing from afar.
    – phoog
    Nov 16 '15 at 20:08

I called the prefecture in the city I live in (Evry) and asked about the situation. They said that as long as the carte de sejour is valid then there should be no problem. Anyways I will be travelling tomorrow and I will also update the answer with what happens.

Update I took my flight from paris (Orly airport) to Venice (Marco Polo airport) and there was no checks even I did not have to show my passport only my carte de séjour was enough to go out of France and I did not have to show any documents entering Italy.

Second Update When I was in Italy, two soldiers stopped me, searched my bags and asked for my papers. it was done politely and I expected such thing to happen so it did not annoy me at all.

I came back to France today and there was nothing more than passport and carte de sejour check.

  • @ Abdalllah Elsobhey, could you tell me please if that was airline check in that asked for your ID or it was Passport control?
    – user37557
    Nov 26 '15 at 16:39
  • I do not get what you mean by each, what do you mean by passport control/airline check Nov 26 '15 at 20:25
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    I believe that @AbdallJafer wants to know whether you had to show your documents to airline employees (as at check-in) or to government officers (as at a border station, also known, perhaps more commonly, as passport control). Passengers from Schengen flights, such as those arriving from Italy, normally don't cross a border station, so I suspect it was airline employees, but given the current situation it might also have been government officers.
    – phoog
    Nov 27 '15 at 5:22

Current situation: As of the third week of December, all extra checks seem to have been lifted (not seen any this week between France and Switzerland, heard similar things from people crossing the border to Luxembourg every day) so it appears that the French authorities more-or-less did what they planned to do for the COP21 summit anyway.

At the border with Switzerland, where border posts have not been dismantled, there are now chicanes on both sides of the border, slowing down traffic even when the police is not present.

Earlier observations: I have crossed the French border many times this month, updating the answer along the way, and the checks are far from systematic. I did see increased police presence at (or near) several major crossings but also some unattended crossings and no noticeable police presence on a train to France. That's relevant because it shows that the border is obviously not “closed”. If nobody is there, you won't be asked to justify your citizenship or status…

The police was however present on motorway crossings with Luxembourg and Switzerland, which is highly unusual, and took time to look at people's faces but did not check documents (so again no systematic attempt at screening out foreign citizens). The radio also reported some unusual delays and traffic jams at other major crossings in the vicinity and a friend told me he lost 3-4 hours to come back to France from Luxembourg on November 17.

During the weeks following the attacks, I had to show my passport/ID card only once. I was actually travelling with a non-EU citizen at the time and she could also cross the border without problem with her residence permit.

General context: Beyond that, as I commented under @phoog excellent answer, the only official statement I have heard is this sentence in the press release after the emergency cabinet meeting in the night between November 13 to 14:

Par ailleurs, le Président de la République a décidé le rétablissement immédiat des contrôles aux frontières. Les services des douanes sont également mobilisés à cet effet.

It means that controls should be increased (which is allowed by the Schengen regulations, incidentally), not that the rules have changed in any way. What the préfecture told you also confirms this. People then started saying that France was “suspending the Schengen agreement” (which is only partially true, even under the most charitable interpretation) and then “closing her borders” (probably a misinterpretation of the previous sentence and prima facie absurd).

Whether anything changes in the next few weeks remains to be seen but actually closing the borders (or even stopping to honor Schengen visas) would be massively disruptive, you can be sure you would hear a lot more about it than a few rumors if that was the case.

Finally, unlike the controls performed by several countries in the wake of the refugee situation earlier this year, these measures are apparently supposed to catch one of the perpetrators of the November 13 attack and possibly thwart further attacks. In this context, it seems highly doubtful that someone would be simply bounced back to Italy/Switzerland/Germany/Belgium if there was any suspicion about them. So the absolute worse that could conceivably happen when coming from another EU country with a valid French residence permit is that you would be detained and questioned, not denied entry.

  • Wasn't pre-Schengen more than fifteen years ago (not counting Switzerland)?
    – phoog
    Nov 27 '15 at 5:27
  • @phoog Indeed but the border with Switzerland is the one I am most familiar with.
    – Relaxed
    Nov 27 '15 at 5:49
  • What is a "chicane"?
    – phoog
    Dec 18 '15 at 17:41
  • @phoog Chicane (but I found the article coming from the French-language version and was surprised to find the same word in English…)
    – Relaxed
    Dec 18 '15 at 19:28
  • That reminds me of polder, a Dutch word that no English speaker seems to know unless they've been to the Netherlands, but which is nonetheless in English dictionaries.
    – phoog
    Dec 18 '15 at 19:46

I will share any information I have. It is far from complete, but I hope it will help anyone with questions similar to the original one. I happen to live an hour from the northern border of France.

  1. Truck driver friends were able to enter the country without issues. I have asked multiple friends and none of them reported any problems. They were also able to leave. There is extra security on the borders. How much is unknown to me.

  2. Some friends studying in Nice decided to come home after the events of last Friday. I am unaware of their flight details. They arrived without any issues.

Do note, my friend all hold West-European passports and are non-Muslims. I am unaware of any difficulties non-West-Europeans could face. I suspect non-EU citizens might have a harder time, especially if you look Muslim. Nevertheless, the borders are open.

My personal opinion: do not travel to France if you are or look Muslim and you do not need to. Stay out of Christian Europe in general. It is not safe. While no one would dare attack you in the open, I see lots of hostility towards Muslims. So be careful please.

  • I think the question is about Carte de séjour holders, not west-european passport holders (which are likely exempt of a carte de séjour, because they are citizens of another EU/EEA country). Also, you cite some a priori unrelated events to justify your point.
    – Vince
    Nov 16 '15 at 16:47
  • I was unaware of that being unrelated. I will edit it out. Still, I think my answer provides some help. It is not an excuse of course, but the media made it seem that way.
    – Belle
    Nov 16 '15 at 16:50
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    It is still related, it gives an insight of what is going on so thanks for that. In fact, I am and look and have a name that says clearly i am a muslim but I have no option as I have already booked my flight out of France, and I have to return since I am student in France. I believe should go and hope for the best. Nov 16 '15 at 17:11
  • Entering the country shouldn't be an issue. Do be careful. I wouldn't like you or any innocents getting hurt because of some angry mob.
    – Belle
    Nov 16 '15 at 17:21
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    I'm pretty uncomfortable with statements like "do not travel to France if you are or look Muslim and you do not need to. Stay out of Christian Europe in general. It is not safe." One of IS's goals is to make Muslims unwelcome in the west, so without in any way wanting to deny that there are problems with racism in France (and indeed in the rest of Europe) I don't think we should do their work for them.
    – djr
    Nov 16 '15 at 21:50

If valid your CARTE DE SEJOUR gives you the right to stay in France. Make sure that it is valid until you come back. And that the personal data on the CARTE DE SEJOUR are in line with your ID or passport. And that your ID or passport is valid until you come back. Not sure, but may be it should be valid for at least 6 months. Good luck!

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    Small comment: If you want to emphasize some parts of your sentences to make them easier to spot, you may want to enclose the part to the highlighted in double asterisks in order to get it boldfaced. That reads nicer than complete capitalization.
    – DCTLib
    Nov 16 '15 at 14:10
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    @DCTLib or he could use single asterisks to italicize, since italic typeface is traditionally used for foreign terms, such as carte de séjour.
    – phoog
    Nov 16 '15 at 18:57

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