Information designed for Citizens of the EU and the EEA:
Nationals of the EU- EEA can freely settle to France in order to live, work or set up a business with very few formalities to undertake. The access to the French labour market is fully granted. Some restrictions apply to several types of jobs and trades such as the army, legal jobs etc.
Within three months after their arrival in France, European citizens must register at the city hall of their municipality. They can apply for a residence permit ("permis de séjour") at the sub-prefecture or prefecture in their area if they wish. The residence permit is not compulsory but may be useful in order to apply for social benefits, social housing, or to register with the French national employment agency. There are several types of residence permits. For more general information about the residence permit in France, or to find out which residence permit suits your needs best, please refer to the French public services online at http://www.service-public.fr/.
Note that Romanian and Bulgarian nationals still need to apply for a work permit before coming to France. Procedures are nonetheless simplified if the offered position is listed on the French skills shortage list "liste des professions en tension".
Information designed for nationals from outside the EU-EEA:
Given the high unemployment rate in France, the French government seeks to preserve its national labour market from foreign workers. Therefore, finding a job in France is rather difficult for non-French or non-European citizens. As far as employment regulations on the French labour market are concerned, priority is given to French nationals, then to European nationals. However, since France has to solve manpower shortages in several key sectors of its economy, non-European workers are often welcome.
How to obtain a work permit?
First of all, foreign workers must be in possession of valid job offers from French companies. A temporary employment contract must be signed.
Then, the employer in France must initiate the work permit application process as follow:
The employer must first contact the French national employment agency, "Pôle Emploi", so that the job offer be advertized in every job center and be proposed to potential French nationals. Then, the job offer must be advertized through the EURES network and be proposed to potential European nationals.
If no French or European candidate applies for the job, Pôle Emploi then files the work permit application to the DDTEFP "Directions départementales du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Formation Professionnelle".
The DDTEFP then receives the work permit application and evaluates the job offer made to the foreign worker. If the application is approved, the DDTEFP then files the work permit application to the ANAEM office ("Agence Nationale d’Accueil des Étrangers et des Migrations") in the home country of the applicant where the foreign worker must undergo medical tests. If everything is ok, the ANAEM must contact the French consular authorities for the issuance of a visa, stamped in the passport of the applicant.
Good to know:
If there is no ANAEM office in the home country of the applicant, the procedure is delegated to the embassy or consulate of France in collaboration with the ANAEM main office in France.
The "competence and talent" ("compétence et talent") residence permit:
The "competence and talent" residence permit designed for foreign nationals having outstanding skills and who can potentially take part to the French economic, intellectual, scientific or cultural development.
Candidates can apply for the "competence and talent" residence permit in their home country at the French embassy or consulate, or directly in France if they are already in possession of a residence permit. The issuance of the "competence and talent" residence permit is conditioned by a specific career plan. The final decision is at the discretion of the French ministry of interior.
The competence and talent residence permit is valid for 3 years, renewable, and authorizes employment in any economic sector.
For more information about the competence and talent work pemit, please refer to the website of the French consulate in Chicago at http://www.consulfrance-chicago.org/.
The long stay visa:
Since June 1st 2009, and in some specific cases, it is no longer necessary to request a first residence permit while in France. This is the long-stay visa validated by the OFII ( "Office Français de l'Immigration et de l'Intégration") issued to foreign workers in possession of work contracts of a duration of 12 months or more, to spouses of French citizens, to visitors and students. Charges apply. For more information about the long-stay visa, please refer to the OFII website at http://www.ofii.fr/.
In all other cases, it is necessary to apply for a residence permit at the local prefecture. Residence permits are of various types according to each situation (employement, seasonal worker,visitor, detached emplyee etc.) For more information about residence permits, visit the French Public Service online at http://vosdroits.service-public.fr.
French Public Services Online
Prefecture de Police de Paris - residence permits
French Ministry of Interior
French national employment agency - Pôle Emploi
French Office for Immigration and Integration
Work Permit. com - How to apply for a work permit in France