As early as the 19th century, the arrival of the railway during the Industrial Revolution enabled unprecedented numbers of migrants from rural France to relocate to Paris. These days, the majority of all immigrants who come to France move to Paris, making it one of the most multicultural cities in Europe. The annual number of people settling in Paris remains high despite the high cost of living and the difficulties in finding accommodation.
Unless you are lucky enough to get help from your company, be prepared to spend a lot of time or money (or both!) on finding a place to live when moving to Paris. We’ll provide some useful advice on renting and buying property in Paris, but first things first: the next paragraphs should give you a clear idea of the administrative issues you need to sort out before actually moving to Paris.
Nationals of EU/EEA member states, including Switzerland, do not need to apply for a visa before moving to Paris. They can travel, live, and work in France without any restrictions. Everyone else needs a valid visa when they move to Paris. Depending on the type of visa, applications can take two months or more to be processed. Leave plenty of time between submitting your application and departing for Paris.
Visa applications are accepted at all French Embassies or Consulates abroad. The latter should also be able to provide you with country-specific information on the application process and other bureaucratic matters to consider before moving to Paris. You can search for your nearest French Embassy or Consulate on the website of the Ministère des Affaires Étrangères et Européennes. The page France Diplomatie provides information in Arabic, Chinese, English, German, and Spanish, with detailed description of visa options in some of these languages.
There are short-stay visas and long-stay visas for non-EU nationals planning to move to Paris. If your intended period of stay does not exceed three months, you need to apply for a so-called Schengen visa before moving to Paris. This visa de court séjour is valid for travel in all Schengen countries. You need to provide a valid passport and certain documents, e.g. a proof of your intention and ability to return to your home country after the visa expires.
A long-term stay in Paris necessitates a visa de long séjour. The type of long-stay visa required depends on your reason for moving to Paris. Expats coming to Paris on a work assignment or in order to take up employment need a work permit before they can be granted a visa. This permit is usually obtained by the employer on behalf of the applicant.
It is illegal to move to Paris on a Schengen visa, start a job, and then apply for a long-stay visa. A police check-up might be required before you relocate, and you may have to undergo a routine medical examination soon after moving to Paris.
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