Lydia Veyrat, a healthcare assistant who works in a retirement home in Isère, will be given a residence permit, the French government announced. Previously she had been threatened with expulsion.
The news comes as a huge relief for Veyrat. The Beninese healthcare assistant, who has a staff job in an Ehpad (a residential facility for dependent elderly people) in Isère, will be able to obtain a residence permit allowing her to stay in France, Marlène Schiappa, Minister Delegate to the Minister of the Interior in charge of citizenship and Minister of Health Olivier Véran announced in a joint press release on November 27.
"I am liberated! I will be able to stay with my residents [in the home for the elderly] and my colleagues; give the best of myself. I will continue to fight alongside my colleagues in this health crisis," she told InfoMigrants a few hours after the announcement, still overcome with emotion.
"My husband's dream was that I work in France and it will now come true."
Married to a Frenchman
Married to a Frenchman with whom she lived in Benin for 20 years, Veyrat came to France in May 2019 after her husband's death. The couple had planned to move to France for medical reasons, as Mr. Veyrat was very ill. Unfortunately, the electrical engineer did not make it to France and died in Benin.
For her part, Lydia Veyrat --who had already left her job as a nurse in Benin in anticipation of the move to France-- decided to come alone to Savoy to settle her husband's estate. She quickly found a job as a nurse's aide and was given a staff job in the Ehpad (home for the elderly) last October.
But when Veyrat tried to renew her residence permit, her application was denied and she was given an order to leave France on the grounds, among other things, that she was not sufficiently integrated into French society.
Her lawyer, Didier Besson, filed an appeal with the administrative court of Grenoble, which was rejected.
"Mrs. Veyrat was really starting to get discouraged. I was telling her to hold on because I saw the extent of the media coverage of the case," Besson told InfoMigrants.
According to him, "it is really the fact that Mrs. Veyrat works in the care sector that unblocked things…I have other cases of people [in the same situation] that are also absurd," but which do not get resolved favorably, the lawyer said.
The ministers’ statement said Veyrat would be contacted the same day. Besson, though, said he expects the prefecture to "drag its feet, as usual… There is always a paper missing, then they send us back to their site. Sometimes I have to accompany people to the prefecture for [the prefecture] to agree to register their files", he said. "But this time they won't have a choice, they'll have to bend."