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Visas & Work Permits in France

The Guide to Visa Types and Work Permit Requirements

There are many work permit visas for France that allow skilled workers to live and work in in the country legally. So whether you are in need of a self-employment visa or residence permit (temporary or permanent), this section equips you with the necessary information you will need to figure out which type of documentation is right for you along with any accompanying family members.

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For expats moving to France for work-related purposes, you may be required to apply for a French visa depending on your country of origin. There are different types of visas and work permits issued which are also dependent on your exact purpose of entry and length of stay in the country, among other things. This can make the French visa application and process quite perplexing, even for a serial expat. Nevertheless, it is crucial that you become well-informed on subjects like visa requirements for you and any accompanying family members, along with visa costs, if this is truly a move you intend on making.

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Work Permits and Employment-Based Visas

There are many work permits and employment visas for expats wishing to take up work in France, each with their own conditions. This subsection will touch on some of the different work permits and visas that are most applicable for professional workers.

Employment Permits

Citizens of the EU and EEA do not require a work permit to take up work in France. You are also exempt from obtaining a work permit if you are a foreign employee working for less than three months in the following fields:

  • Sporting, cultural, artistic and scientific events.
  • Conferences, seminars and trade shows.
  • Production and distribution of cinematic and audiovisual works, shows and recordings.
  • Modeling and artistic posing.
  • Personal service workers and domestic workers working in France during their private employers’ stay in the country.
  • Audit and consulting in IT, management, finance, insurance, architecture, and engineering, under the terms of a service agreement or intra-company transfer agreement.
  • Occasional teaching activities by invited lecturers.

Or if you are the spouse of a French citizen, parent of a French child, or close family member of a French employee in possession of a temporary ‘Private and Family Life’ residence permit, you are also exempt.

Otherwise, citizens from anywhere else will usually require a work permit, no matter your length of stay, unless you are in possession of a long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit (VLS-TS) visa or residence permit that also acts as a work permit.

Types of Work Permits

Talent Passport

The “Talent Passport” permit is intended for non-EU nationals to live and work in France. It includes the following categories:

  • Skilled recent graduates
  • Employees of an innovative company
  • Highly skilled workers (EU Blue Card holders)
  • Employees on a “mission” with a French work contract
  • Researchers/scientists
  • Champions of an innovative economic project
  • Company representatives
  • Economic or financial investors
  • Artist/performers
  • An internationally or nationally renowned person in sports, science, arts, education, literature, etc.
  • This permit acts also as a four-year renewable residence permit. It costs 269 EUR (302 USD).
Salaried and Temporary Worker

The Salaried and Temporary Worker permit is divided into two subcategories depending on the length and duration of your job contract. This permit is issued to employees working for a French company. The Salaried subcategory is for workers with contracts lasting longer than a year, and the Temporary Worker category is for workers with contracts lasting less than twelve months.

France Work Permit Requirements

For most work permits, it is the employer in charge of submitting the work permit application on behalf of the employee at least two months before the worker’s start date. Required documents include:

  • A letter explaining the employee’s role or the reasons for their recruitment and detailing the duties they will be performing.
  • France work permit visa application form:
  • An up-to-date excerpt of the commercial register for legal entities (extrait K-bis) and sole proprietors (extrait K); a craft license (titre d’artisan); or, failing that, for private individuals, a tax notice.
  • For intra-company transfers, evidence of the relationship between the company established in France and the company established abroad.
  • Copy of the employee’s passport or national identity document.
  • For employees already resident in France, a copy of the residence permit authorizing them to stay in France.
  • Employee’s CV/résumé or other evidence of their skills and experience.
  • Where applicable, a copy of any qualifications or certificates required for the position in question.
  • Where the position in question is subject to specific regulatory conditions, evidence that these conditions are met.
  • Evidence of efforts made to find a candidate already in the French labor market.

If the employer is established outside France, the application must also include the following:

  • Certificate of employment from the company established outside France or initial employment contract, providing evidence of at least three months’ service.
  • A sworn declaration of application for registration with the French social security system.
  • Where applicable, a sworn declaration of application for registration with the relevant paid leave scheme (caisse des congés payés).
  • Where applicable, a letter appointing a person established in France to complete the required administrative formalities in its name and on its behalf.

Work Visas

Below is a list of some of the employment-based visas available for France that a professional, working expat can apply for along with the relevant work visa cost and requirements.

Short-Stay Work Visa

These are issued to foreign workers who intend to work for less than 90 days in France unless you are from the EU/EEA/Switzerland. This visa will cost 60 EUR (67 USD). If you are from Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Japan, Mauritius, Mexico, St Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, US, or Venezuela, you too do not need a visa either; however a work permit arranged by your employer is still needed for you to legally work in France.

Long-Term Work Visa

If you are a non-EU/EEA/Switzerland national with an intended period of stay that exceeds 90 days, you will need to apply for a long-stay visa. This visa de long séjour will be adapted to your specific reason and duration of stay. These visas can be issued for a variety of reasons, including various work-related purposes. Applying for this France work visa costs 99 EUR (111 USD).

Workers applying for this visa who have family members coming with them can have their employer start the “accompanying family member” procedure at the same time as the worker’s application.

Business Visa

In order to apply for a French visa for business purposes, you will need:

  • An invitation letter from the French company with their address and the dates of your visit (letter must state coverage of expenses for the applicant)
  • A certificate from your employer allowing your business travel
  • Proof of previous trade relations between the two companies if applicable
  • Business bank statements (last six months)
  • Memorandum and Article of Association in original certified copy (registered with joint stock companies) Trade License (first issued and present renewal), Proprietorship/Partnership documents

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Self-Employment Visas

Self-employed workers in France will be issued the long-stay visa equivalent to a (VLS/TS) residence permit, as described in the previous subsection. The self-employment visa will bear the statement “entrepreneur/profession libérale”(self-employed in regulated ‘liberal’ profession). This visa must be validated within 15 days of your arrival into France after which it is valid for one year and renewable. Keep in mind that other long-stay visas may bear other statements depending on your specific situation.

You may be eligible for the “talent passport” permit described above if your job contributes to France’s economic attractiveness. For startup founders and investors, this could be the French tech or business investor visa. Just like the “talent passport,” it is valid for four years, on a renewable basis, and can be extended to immediate family members so that spouses and children receive resident permits allowing them to work and live in France too. With this visa, no additional work permit is required.

Self-Employment Visa Requirements

To work in France as a self-employed worker you will need the following documents (which may need to be officially translated):

  • Passport
  • Complete application form
  • Copy of your business license
  • Company bank statements (last six months)
  • Income Tax Return
  • Proof of accommodation
  • Proof of medical insurance
  • A letter outlining your self-employment activities and what you intend to do
  • Clear criminal record

If you plan on setting up a business, you must also be able to demonstrate the economic viability of your intended business/project and meet all of the specific requirements (qualifications/diplomas, etc.), if your line of work is regulated. A 30,000 EUR (33,624 USD) investment in the new business will be required, and you must hold at least a master’s degree or be able to prove at least five years of professional work experience. In this case, you will be issued a long-stay visa bearing the statement “passeport talent” “créateur d’entreprise” (Skilled residence permit – Business creator), valid for four years. If you are staying for less than a year, then you will just be given a long-stay visa, equivalent to a (VLS/TS) residence permit, bearing the statement “passeport talent” and no other statement.

If you are a startup founder and applying for the tech visa, you must found your startup in one of the partner incubators and have financial resources equivalent to the French annual minimum wage. Your startup project must be approved by the Direccte (French Administration) via an official letter sent to you by the incubator.

Investors must invest at least 300,000 EUR (336,360 USD), own at least 10% of the company they are contributing to, and plan to create jobs within at least four years following the investment. They must also be investing directly or via a company in which they have at least a 30% share. Investors will be issued a long-stay visa bearing the statement “passeport talent” “investisseur économique” (Skilled residence permit – Investor), valid for four years. If you are staying for less than a year, then you will just be given a long-stay visa, equivalent to a (VLS/TS) residence permit, bearing the statement “passeport talent” and no other statement.

If you are a self-employed performer, you must justify production or performance for a minimum duration of three months in France, and submit proof of your financial resources (at least equal to 70% of the minimum legal wage in France for a full-time worker). In this case, you will be issued a long-stay visa bearing the statement “passeport talent” “profession artistique et culturelle” (Skilled residence permit – artistic and cultural profession).

Self-Employment Visa Process

It is advisable you apply for your visa from your country of origin but, in some cases, it is still possible to apply for it if you are already in France or elsewhere. You fill out the application form online and submit all the required documents mentioned earlier. The cost is 99 EUR (111 USD). Applications are usually processed within a month but it is best to give yourself at least three months, in case. Once approved, you can travel to France and apply for your “Carte de Sejour” (resident ID card). Keep in mind that if your application is rejected, all fees related to your visa request are non-refundable.

To learn about France’s self-employment program, check out our Working in France article.

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Residency Permits: Temporary and Permanent

For those moving to France and coming from the EU, there is no need to worry about a visa or residence permit. However, if you are moving to France from outside the EU and are staying for an extended period (more than three months), you will need to learn how to apply for a temporary residence permit. This is France’s carte de séjour (CDS) — the official residence permit. Later, you can find out about how to become a French permanent residence, if you so wish. This subsection covers both processes.

Contrat d’intégration républicaine (CIR)

From July 2016, any non-Europeans wishing to settle in France must sign the CIR or Contrat d’Intégration Républicaine. This is a mutual contract to ensure the best possible integration of foreigners into French society. During an interview, professional, social, and language needs are assessed to see if any assistance is required for the expat. Knowledge of French up to the A1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is desired, and language lessons can be given if this standard if not met. Newcomers must also attend two civic training sessions. Meeting the requirements of this contract is one of the conditions for a residence permit.

Application for a Temporary Resident Permit

France’s carte de séjour temporaire are residence permits valid for up to a year and need to be renewed annually if you wish to stay in France. They include:

  • VLS-TS – the French long-stay visa (described above) which also serves as a temporary residence permit once validated at the OFII offices in France.
  • Carte de Sejour for employees or temporary workers

Applying for the Carte de Sejour for employees or temporary workers must be done at the closest préfecture or sous-préfecture, at least two months before the expiration date of your long-stay visa. If you live in Paris, you must go to the police headquarters. If there is not a préfecture or sous-préfecture in your area, pay a visit to the mairie (local town hall office) where you can also apply.

Requirements and Fees

Documents needed for the carte de séjour temporaire include the following:

  • Long-stay visa
  • Work permit
  • Passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Last three pay stubs
  • CIR contract
  • Medical certificate
  • Proof of payment
    • The Carte de Sejour for employees or temporary workers has a fee of 269 EUR (301 USD).

How to Get Permanent Residency in France

Permanent residency cards in France are called Carte de Résident (CR). They are valid for ten years and renewable. Note that if you leave France for more than two consecutive years, you will lose this permanent resident status.

After five years, you also have the option of applying for the EU long-term resident card. This is for applicants who have held the European Blue Card. This is also a renewable card, valid for up to ten years.

There are some benefits to getting permanent residency in France. Some of France’s permanent resident benefits include:

  • Legal access to the European Union
  • Entry into Schengen countries without requiring a visa
  • An extended period of stay before having to renew residency (ten years)

To apply, your France permanent resident application must be submitted to your local prefecture.

France Permanent Resident Requirements

To apply for the CR, you must have lived in France for at least five years (this period is reduced to only three years under certain circumstances such as if you are joining a family member who already has permanent residency, or if you are married to a French national).

Some of the required documents (both copies and originals) you will most likely need when applying for a carte de séjour residence permit may include:

  • Proof of residence (e.g. lease, utility bills, rent receipts)
  • Employment contract and proof of income
  • Bank statements
  • Birth or marriage certificates
  • Medical certificate
  • Health insurance
  • Integration into French society and sufficient knowledge of the language

It is advisable that you consult your local préfecture for any additional paperwork you may need for your specific situation. For documents that are not in French, you will need to provide official, court-certified translations. Préfecture, consulates, police stations, or an independent relocation service provider can offer recommendations for this.

The application fee for a permanent resident card for France is 269 EUR (301 USD).

Family Visa

In relation to the temporary residency permit, non-French, non-EU, and non-EEA nationals with family ties to a French resident can apply for the Carte de Sejour for Private and family life. This temporary residency permit allows family members to work, is valid for up to a year, and renewable. This is also issued immediately for accompanying family members of working expats under the “Talent Passport” permit.

In relation to the permanent residency permit, the CR is also available for spouses of French citizens or parents of a French-born child. It allows family members to work, is valid for 10 years, and renewable.

French Spouse Visa Process

France offers family reunification visas for spouses who wish to join their partner in France. Permit conditions depend on a variety of factors including nationality, the kind of permit the spouse in France has, and the length of time they have been living in France. If you are joining your spouse who is not an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen, the following conditions have to be met for you to join them:

  • Your family member must have been living in France for at least 18 months (12 for Algerians) and hold a valid, one-year residence permit.
  • Sufficient funds to support you in France (equal to the monthly minimum wage)
  • Adequate accommodation for you in France (22 to 28 sqm place for a couple, depending on the city and region )

The spouse in France will need to go to the OFII office to apply. If the application is accepted, the partner who is joining will then be responsible for applying for their long-stay visa, equivalent to a residence card (VLS-TS), free of charge, from a French consulate or embassy in their country of origin. Once they receive this visa, the joining spouse has three months to enter France and register with the local OFII, which must be done within two months of their arrival. The joining spouse will have to apply for a residence card if they plan to stay past a year

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: October 24, 2019

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