Finding an internship in France

Internships in France
Updated 2019-08-15 07:39

France is a culturally rich nation and is home to a wide array of industries as well as some of the foremost companies in the world. The country is therefore well suited to those seeking to gain work experience. Whether your interests lie in the arts, beauty, science, tourism or technology, the system of stages or internships is well established. Some companies offer structured internship programs, and certain institutions specialise in organising internships. However, in many cases, you will need to arm yourself with determination as well as French skills.

Do you need a visa as an intern in France?

Nationals of the European Union, as well as nationals of other nations such as Switzerland and Norway, do not need a visa to work in France, nor do they require visas for internships. International students studying in France and holding valid student visas are also allowed to work, provided that the institutions in which they are registered participate in the national student healthcare plan. However, there are limitations regarding the number of hours that students are allowed to work in a given year. Currently, students can work only up to 964 hours a year.

There are specific conditions for student jobs in universities, such as coordinating social events or contributions to the promotional activities of the schools. For these activities, students can work up to 670 hours between September 1st and June 30th and up to 300 hours between July 1st and August 31st. However, the legislation tends to change, and it is always a good idea for students to contact their relevant Campus France representatives or visa staff in their academic institutions.

If you are a national of a country for which short-stay visas are not required, then you can travel to France to pursue an internship, provided it lasts less than 90 days. Otherwise, for internships lasting longer than 90 days, a long-stay visa will be required.

For further information on the countries requiring short-stay visas for France, you can consult the website of the French diplomatic services or the website of the consulate closest to where you currently live. You can get information on visa types and requirements by country, the requirements for long-stay visas, the requirements for short-stay visas. Students may want to look at the Campus France website.

Types of internship visas in France

Short internships

If you intend to carry out an internship for less than 90 days and you come from a country for which short-stay visas are required, you will need to apply for a Uniform Schengen visa at the French Consulate in your country of residence. In certain cases, the French agency for international students, Campus France, will handle the application process. It is highly recommended to check the website or to call the consulate prior to making the application in order to check whether there are specific additional documents which are required but, in general, the following documents will be required:

A completed and signed application form
A valid passport (three months' validity following the end of your internship in France)
Two passport size photos (there are specific requirements for photos)
Proof of health insurance and special Schengen repatriation which should be valid throughout your stay in France
Internship agreement signed by you, your university and the company which is taking you onboard
Proof of accommodation (hosting certificate or hotel booking)
Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in the country

The application process is generally smooth, but it is always a good idea to contact the consulate to check processing times ahead of your application.

Internships lasting longer than 90 days

In general, and unlike some Anglo-Saxon countries, internships in France tend to last longer than three months, and it is likely that you will be required to apply for a long-stay visa. If this is the case, you will be issued with a visa based on the length specified in the internship agreement, which is referred to as a 'Convention de Stage' in French. Upon arriving in France, you will be required to register at the French Office of Immigration and Integration (known as 'OFII') during the first three months following your arrival. You are advised to get specific information from the consulate in which you intend to apply and check the procedures for making an appointment. In general, the following documents will be requested:

Proof of residency in the country in which you are applying (if applicable)
Original passport (with three months' validity and with at least two blank pages)
Long-stay visa application form (available from the website of the consulate)
Passport photos
OFII residency form
Processing fees
Your original internship agreement (or 'Convention de Stage'), which is issued by the institution at which you will carry out the internship. Note that the agreement needs to be stamped by the French Labor Department (known according to its French acronym 'DIRECCTE')
Proof of sufficiency of funds
Proof of insurance

Finding an internship in France

A good mastery of French is generally essential if you wish to intern in France. It is highly recommended that you brush up on your French skills before applying for internships or if you intend to cold-call companies to seek more informal opportunities.

Many large companies, such as Airbus, Total or Lafarge regularly welcome students for internships and are well-versed in the process of recruiting and deploying interns. These companies advertise opportunities on their websites and can be an excellent point of entry, although the process tends to be somewhat competitive. If you are studying in an academic institution, it might be a good idea to reach out to your university to see whether they have contacts in France. Alternatively, you can also contact companies directly, especially if you are more interested in smaller companies or specific internships. French companies are on the lookout for interns who can speak both French and international business languages, so make sure you advertise your linguistic as well as your academic skills when reaching out. There are also a wealth of websites listing internship opportunities.

The process of finding an internship in France might seem daunting, especially if you are applying from abroad. However, there are many institutions which can help, starting with the French Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence.

Useful links:

DIRECCTE ' Directions Régionales des Entreprises, de la Concurrence, de la Consommation, du Travail et de l'Emploi
Jobs Abroad
Monster France
Go Abroad

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