Work visas for France
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Updated 6 months ago

Nationals of the EU- EEA can live, work or set up a business in France with very few formalities and full access to the labour market. Some restrictions apply to several types of jobs and trades such as jobs in the army and in the legal sector. 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 can be challenging for non-French or non-European citizens.

EU and EEA nationals

Within three months of their arrival in France, European citizens must register at the city hall of their municipality. They can also 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. However, it may be useful when it comes to applying for social benefits and social housing, or when registering with the French national employment agencies. 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 online public services.

Note that Romanian and Bulgarian nationals will still need to apply for a work permit before coming to France. However, the procedure is simplified if the position they have been offered is listed on the French skills shortage list (liste des professions en tension).

Non-EU and non-EEA nationals

As far as employment regulations of the French labour market are concerned, priority is given to French nationals, then to European nationals. However, due to manpower shortages in several key sectors of the French economy, non-European workers are often welcome.

In order to obtain a work permit, foreign workers must be in possession of official job offers from French companies and a temporary employment contract must be signed by both parties.

To initiate the work permit application, the employer must first contact the French national employment agency, "Pôle Emploi", so that the job offer can be advertised in every job centre and be made available to French nationals. Then, the job offer must be advertised through the EURES network to European citizens.

If no French or European candidate applies for the job, Pôle Emploi then files the work permit application with the DIRECCTE (Directions régionales des entreprises, de la concurrence, du travail et de l'emploi) .

The DIRECCTE then receives the work permit application and evaluates the job offer made to the foreign worker. If the application is approved, the DIRECCTE then files the work permit application with the ANAEM office ("Agence Nationale d'Accueil des étrangers et des Migrations") in the home country of the applicant, where the foreign worker is required to undergo medical tests. Upon approval of the filing, the ANAEM must contact the French consular authorities to request the issuance of the visa.

Good to know:

If there is no ANAEM office in the applicant's home country, 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 Visa

The "competence and talent" residence visa is designed for foreign nationals with outstanding skills, who can potentially take part in France's economic, intellectual, scientific or cultural development.

Candidates can apply for the "competence and talent" residence visa in the French Embassy or French Consulate of their home country, or directly in France if they are already in possession of a residence visa. The issuance of the "competence and talent" residence visa is conditioned by a specific career plan. The final decision is at the discretion of the French Ministry of the Interior.

The competence and talent residence visa can be valid for up to 4 years, is renewable, and authorises employment in any economic sector. Family members can also accompany you as part of this visa, and will also receive multi-year residence permits that enable them to work (if they are over 18).

For more information, refer to official information on the competence and talent work visa.

The long-stay visa for France

As of June 1st 2009, those with a long-stay visa no longer need to request a residence permit or carte de séjour. The long-stay visa is issued by the OFII (Office Français de l'Immigration et de l'Intégration) and is issued to foreign workers in possession of work contracts of a duration of 12 months or more, as well as to spouses of French citizens, visitors and students. Charges apply.

For more information about the long-stay visa, please refer to the OFII website.

In all other cases, it is necessary to apply for a residence permit at your local prefecture. Residence permits are of various types according to each situation (employment, seasonal worker, visitor, detached employee, etc.).

Useful links:

French Public Services Online
Prefecture de Police de Paris - residence permits
French Ministry of Interior
DIRECCTE
French national employment agency - Pôle Emploi

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