- Country Name: French Republic
- Capital: Paris
- Population: 66,644,000 (2017 estimate)
- Language: French
- Time Zone: CET (UTC +1)
- Dialing Code: +33
- Currency: Euro (EUR)
This FAQ has been created as an introductory guide to immigration procedures for France. Since rules and requirements in every country are constantly changing and each case must be assessed on its own merits, for in-depth and up-to-date advice, please contact us.
Please note, we can only advise on matters relating to immigration and are unable support you with employment in a new region. We do however have a network of trusted partners that can support your move, so please visit Our Partners page for further information.
France hosts many of the industry Fortune 500 companies, including those in the creative industries, healthcare, cosmetics, pharmaceutical companies, professional and financial services, IT & technological services, communications & telecoms, energy, beverage industry, aeronautical industry.
Tourism is another major sector providing plenty of job opportunities due to France’s position as the world´s top tourist destination.
Expatriates are often attracted by France’s promising working conditions and good social security coverage. However, due to slowed economic growth and decreased competitiveness, most opportunities are through a traditional foreign assignment.
There are five options for long term assignments in France – four open to all nationals, and one, the Van der Elst visa, open only to those who currently hold a valid work and residence permit for another EU country. There are also three options for short-term assignments of less than 90 days.
The main options are as follows:
Salarie en Mision (ICT) – for employees/assignees transferred within a group of companies – “intra-company transferees”.
Salarie (Local Hire) – for the recruitment of a foreign national who will be locally hired in France for longer than 12 months, and who is not an intra-company transferee
Blue Card – for highly skilled employees with three-year graduate diploma or a minimum of five years professional experience with a concrete job offer (local hire) from a French company, a contract directly with the French company, and paid at least 1.5 times the average gross annual salary. This is an EU-wide with some exceptions) immigration process for highly skilled employees with higher professional qualifications.
Foreign Service Providers – for foreign nationals employed by foreign companies with no establishment in France, who provide a temporary service in France for a company in France on behalf of and under the authority of their company in the home country.
Van der Elst – for holders of a current, valid work permit for another EU member country, assigned to France for less than 2 years. Assignees must have been employed in the other EU country for a minimum of 3 months and the employer must intend for them to return to that country following the French assignment in order to qualify for this route.
Processes and requirements will vary according to the labour market at the time of application, the type of work permit being applied for, the nationality of the applicant, the country of application and personal circumstances of the assignee and any family dependants. We, therefore, recommend that you contact us for up-to-date information.
Please note, all French work and residence permits are processed by the police prefecture in the area where the assignee will be working. As such processing times and supporting documents can vary slightly but processing times for residence permits in all prefectures are a minimum of 4 months. There is no fast track service.
There are limits on travel outside France while the residence permit is being processed.
Requirements will vary according to the type of work permit, country of application, nationality of the applicant and any dependants, and relevant prefecture to whom the application is submitted.
Applicants will be required to submit a variety of personal and corporate documents to support the application which include, but are not limited to: current passport, any current/previous French or Schengen visas, CV, police clearance certificate, medical certificate, , birth certificate, birth and marriage certificate of all dependents, evidence of residential address in France, company support letters, employment contract, assignment agreement, job description, details of salary and allowances, plus corporate documents and attestations. Legalisations and medical exams are also required in many cases. Newland Chase can assist with this.
All foreign issued documents must be translated into French by a sworn translator registered with the prefecture in France before the relevant applications can be submitted to the authorities. This includes payslips, proof of social security coverage, and birth/marriage certificates.
All documents must be dated less than 3 months before the date of submission.
Processing times will vary according to visa type, nationality and country of application. However, an indication of processing times is as follows:
Salarie en Mision – Takes typically 1 to 3 months until entry to France and a further 3 to 4 months before the whole process is completed
Salarie – Takes typically 3 to 5 months until entry to France and a further 2 days before the whole process is completed.
Foreign Service Provider – Takes typically 2 to 4 months until entry to France and a further 2 days before the whole process is completed.
Blue Card – Takes typically 2 to 5 months until entry to France and a further 3 to 4 months before the whole process is completed.
Van der Elst – Typically 2-3 weeks until entry to France (longer for certain nationalities, and a further 4-6 months before the process is completed in-country
Salarié en Mission is generally granted for the duration of the temporary assignment and up to a maximum of 3 years, and can be renewed at the discretion of the French authorities.
Salarie – Duration will depend on the length of the work contract and will be unlimited if the contract is unlimited (although note that the residence permit does need renewing).
Foreign Service Provider – Granted for 12 months
Blue Card – Granted for the length of a contract, between 12 and 36 months.
Van der Elst –Granted for the duration of the temporary assignment, which can me up to a maximum of 3 years
Nationals from specified countries can enter France without a visa for tourism and business purposes, for short trips and restricted activities. Check with Newland Chase before you travel to find out whether you need a work permit to undertake proposed activities.
It is strictly prohibited to carry out any work related activity on a Schengen visa or under the visa-waver agreement for non-EU nationals. Therefore, while there is nothing to stop you from looking for jobs, you would not be able to commence any form of employment until you have acquired the appropriate work authorisation.
Van der Elst is not a work permit per se and as such the assignee can enter on a Schengen visa and apply for residence permit in-country. However, the sending employer must notify the authorities of the French secondment in advance of travel to France.
Salarie, Salarie en mission and EU Family Member – Generally, after living in France for five continuous years, you can apply for French permanent residence, (carte de resident ) which allows you to stay in France for 10 years can be renewed.
However note that permanent residence is granted depend on the applicant’s personal circumstances, such as the reason for your continued stay, employment and financial stability, how well integrated you are into French society and your language ability.
If granted through marriage to an EU spouse, holders of the will retain the permit even after divorce or the death of the EU spouse.
Note that you lose the right to permanent residence if you leave France for more than two consecutive years.
Blue Card – The Blue Card will lead to permanent residency after five years, provided the Blue Card holder has spent the two years immediately prior to the application continuously residing in one EU member state (which would be the state where the permanent residency application would be submitted).
Van der Elst – N/A
The French work permit process is regional and complex, and requirements and procedures may change on a frequent basis, so please consult with your Newland Chase Immigration Advisor for current and detailed information.
Obtaining a work permit in France is a lengthy process. Therefore, you would be advised to start the visa application process well in advance of the desired date of relocation.