Nice at a Glance
Moving to Nice
Moving to Nice will give you the chance to settle in an exciting, and untraditional, French town. As Nice was the first French city to base its entire economy on tourism, it has a history of welcoming foreigners. The English began holidaying there as early as the 18th century, and Nice was owned by Italy for some time prior to this.
The significant Italian population in the city is consequently unsurprising. Relocating to Nice may therefore land you in a highly multicultural place, but settling for a significant period of time here is difficult: the city’s main priority is tourism. Housing for residents is mostly available in the suburbs of the city, and this can be difficult to obtain. The next few paragraphs should give you some advice on what to think about before actually moving to Nice.
Taking Care of Your Visa
Initially, moving to Nice is straightforward if you are an EU/EEA (including Switzerland) national. You will not require a visa to enter France. However, everyone else must apply for a visa from the nearest French Embassy or Consulate before moving to Nice.
Following this, there are various visas you can apply for: the Schengen visa, a work visa, or a different long-term visa. Which one you must obtain depends on your individual reasons for moving to Nice and the planned duration of your stay.
You should apply for a Schengen visa if you intend to stay in France for fewer than 90 days. If you are considering moving to Nice, this will therefore probably not be valid. As an expat, you will usually be staying for longer than three months!
However, the Schengen visa would be valid in all EU countries plus Iceland and Norway. A Schengen visa application is processed within two months and costs 60 EUR. A guide to completing the form can be found on the website of the Ministère des Affaires Étrangères et Européennes (Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs).
If you are going to France on a work assignment, your employer should get in touch with the relevant Direction Régionale des Entreprises, de la Concurrence, de la Consummation, du Travail et de l’Emploi (regional Department of Labor). Once your case has been approved by Direccte and the French immigration office — a process which the employer takes control of, so you do not need to worry — a visa can be issued by a French consulate.
Long-term visas are necessary if you intend on moving to Nice for longer than 90 days. This is known as a visa de long séjour in France. Such visas are usually issued for professional, academic, or family reasons. Family members of expatriates who can apply for a long-term visa usually include the spouse, minor children, financially dependent children over the age of 21, or financially dependent parents.
If you want to come to Nice for work, this visa will be based on the work permit your employer must file on your behalf. For more information about the various work permits necessary for moving to Nice, please see our article on working in Nice.
Most foreign residents moving to Nice for more than three months need to apply for a residency document. Nationals of EU/EEA countries, as well as Switzerland, are exempt from this requirement.This document is called a carte de séjour, and it is usually valid for (up to) one year, three years, or ten years.
The carte de séjour needs to be collected from the prefecture of the Départment Alpes-Maritimes upon moving to Nice. It generally needs to be renewed every year. However, there are certain exceptions. Some highly qualified expats or foreign entrepreneurs may be able to obtain a special carte compétences et talents, which is valid for three years and is then up for renewal. Moreover, expats who have been living in France for at least five consecutive years can apply for a carte de résident, which is valid for ten years.
The CAI, or Contrat d’Accueil et d’Intégration (Welcome and Integration Contract), must be signed by most people entering France with the intention to stay. However, expats on intra-company transfers and foreign assignments, as well as holders of a European Blue Card, are explicitly excluded from the CAI requirements.
This is a mutual contract, ensuring the best possible integration of foreigners into French society. The migrant must attend a couple of information sessions and undergo an assessment of their French language skills at the nearest immigration office.
The immigration office for residents of the Départment Alpes-Maritimes is located here:
Immeuble Space B
208, route de Grenoble
Bâtiment B - 5e étage
04 92 29 49 00
If the language skills of a CAI immigrant are considered insufficient, compulsory language lessons are offered for two months by the Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration (Office of Immigration and Integration). Failure to comply with these CAI rules can result in the revocation of your residence permit for moving to Nice.
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