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The Complete Guide to Obtaining a French Work Visa

Obtaining a French work visa

France is one of the world’s top vacation destinations, with millions of tourists coming every year to wander the boulevards of Paris, feast in Lyon, or stroll along the coastline in Nice. These tourists may not need visas, but a French work visa is often necessary if you want to settle in France.

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Depending on your current country of residence, the French government has strict visa requirements for many types of work. So, before signing a work contract with a French employer, you’ll need to have your paperwork in order. To help you find a job in France, our team here at Remitly created this guide to the visa requirements for foreign workers in France.

Who needs a French work visa?

First, it’s important to understand the difference between visas, work permits, and residence permits:

  • A visa allows you to enter France for a particular purpose.
  • A work permit will enable you to engage in certain types of work in France.
  • A resident permit or residency permit allows you to live in France and may include access to certain benefits like the French healthcare system.

If you’re already a citizen of the European Union or European Economic Area, then you don’t need to apply for a French work visa.

If you’re not a citizen of the European Union/European Economic Area/Switzerland, then getting the right visa should be at the top of your to-do list.

Citizens of some countries, such as the U.S., can enter France and other countries in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days without a visa, but not for employment.

If you already have another type of visa, such as a student visa or a family member visa (i.e., a spouse visa), you may or may not need an additional work permit. You can start by completing a questionnaire provided by the French government to help you figure out which rules apply to you.

Types of French work visas

The next thing to consider before applying for a work visa is how long you want to stay in France.

Seasonal and temporary workers may only need a short-stay visa, while prospective immigrants may want to apply for a long-stay visa.

Let’s take a look at these options.

Short-stay visa

A short-stay visa will let non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens reside in France for up to 90 days. However, not everyone will need to obtain one. If you’re from the U.S., Australia, Canada, Malaysia, and certain other countries, and you’re looking to stay for this time frame, you’re exempt from this requirement.

Regardless of this visa, you may still need a work permit. In fact, you’ll need a work permit unless your job relates to:

  • Sporting, cultural, artistic, or scientific events
  • Conferences, seminars, or trade shows
  • The production/distribution of cinematic or audiovisual shows and recordings
  • Teaching activities alongside French teachers
  • Modeling and artistic posing
  • An audit/expert assessment in IT, management, finance, insurance, architecture, and engineering

In all other cases, your employer or prospective employer will need to apply for a foreign employee work permit before you submit your visa application form. They will do this by submitting an official form to the French authorities and providing documentation like a copy of your initial employment contract.

If that’s successful, you should attach the work permit to your visa application to show that you have secured paid employment in France.

You cannot extend a short-stay visa. Once it runs out, you’ll have to leave France.

If you decide you’d like to stay in France beyond 90 days, you’ll have to submit the application for a long-stay visa from your home country.

Long-stay visa

Types of employment contracts

A long-stay visa will entitle you to live in France for over 90 days, and you’ll be able to apply for a longer-term residence permit after you’ve arrived in the country.

All foreign nationals outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland need to apply for this type of visa. Again, French employers will typically have to apply for a work permit on behalf of foreign workers before they begin the application process.

Carte de séjour à solliciter

If you receive a long-stay visa with the words “carte de séjour à solliciter” on it, you must apply for a residence permit within your first two months in France.

In Paris, this means going to the local police headquarters. If you’ve settled anywhere else, you can submit the application through the relevant prefecture.

Contact the prefecture beforehand to check on what documents are required.

Intra-company transfer

If you work for an employer with offices in France and your home country, you may qualify for a visa through an intra-company transfer agreement or ICT program. The ICT program is for management professionals whose work contract requires them to relocate to France. Typically, it grants a residence permit for 12 months and is renewable.

VLS-TS

If you obtain a long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit, also known as a VLS-TS, you won’t have to apply for a residence permit during your first year in France.

Instead, you’ll have to register with the Office Français de l’Immigration (French Immigration and Citizenship Office or OFII) within three months of your arrival.

You’ll receive the relevant registration form with your visa, though you may find it easier to do it online.

Talent passport

Depending on your line of work, you might be eligible to apply for a talent passport or a “passeport talent.”

This pathway to entry is for highly skilled workers who will make a lasting impact on French enterprise and benefit the French labor market. It allows you to stay in France for up to four years.

You may be eligible for a talent passport if any of the following scenarios apply:

  • You have a contract to work in research and development at a “new innovative” company (an official designation), and your salary is at least twice the current minimum wage in France.
  • You plan to work for a French company in the same group as the company you currently work for back home and have a salary at least 1.8 times the current minimum wage in France.
  • You’re qualified to at least a Master’s level, and a public or private research or higher education institution is hosting you.
  • You’re a “highly qualified employee” with a minimum three-year educational qualification, and your salary will be at least 1.5 times the current reference salary decreed by the Minister of Immigration.
  • You intend to create a business in France, have at least a Master’s degree or five years of experience at a comparable level, and can invest at least €30,000.
  • You’re a performer who can prove you’ll be undertaking literary or artistic work that will last at least three months on French territory.

Self-employed applicants may also be eligible for this type of visa under the category of créateur d’entreprise, or “business creator.”

French working visas: group of people working at a table that's painted like the French flag

How to apply for a French working visa

You can start the application process online by creating an account and providing the necessary details.

Then, you’ll have to make an appointment at the French embassy, French consulate, or another designated visa application center in your home country.

You’ll have to pay the admin fee at the appointment, which varies by country of origin, and provide the required documents.

Along with a valid passport or other national identity document issued within the last 10 years, a birth certificate, and passport photos, you may also need to provide the following documents:

  • Proof of health insurance that covers your entire stay
  • Proof of accommodation, such as a tenancy agreement or a special certificate completed by the person hosting you in their home
  • Proof that you have enough money to afford living costs (equivalent to the basic monthly allowance paid to foreign scholarship holders in France)
  • Your employment contract and details of your job role
  • Evidence of diplomas, degrees, and other relevant qualifications
  • Work permit obtained by your employer in France (which French authorities may send directly to the embassy/consulate/application center)

You’ll have to provide copies of each document — including the ID page of your passport — and show them the originals.

Finally, French consular officials will take your biometric data (photographs and fingerprints) at this appointment.

France work visa FAQs

Have lingering questions about getting a visa in France? Read on to explore our answers to frequently asked questions about the official visa process.

Can you get public medical insurance while on a French work visa?

Funded by the French social security system, the public health insurance program in France is open to anyone legally residing in the country for a set period, usually at least six months. If you are in the country with a France work visa for that amount of time, you can typically be covered by public medical insurance.

Your future employer will help you sign up for the public health insurance program.

How much does the French work visa cost?

As previously mentioned, how much you can expect to pay for a French long-stay visa depends on your country of origin. The visa fee is either 50 or 99 euros, depending on your home country. For more information, you can consult the fee schedule on the official visa website.

Can you work in France on a tourist visa?

On a standard visitor visa, you typically can’t legally work in France. However, if you’re between the ages of 18 and 30 and from a country that has a partnership with France, you can apply for a working holiday visa.

A working holiday visa in France is for young people whose primary reason for being in France is leisure travel but who need work authorization to pay for their expenses while abroad. Typically, this unique temporary worker visa is the equivalent of a one-year residence permit. The visa is usually not renewable, so you will likely need to return home at the end of the 12-month period unless you qualify for permanent residence through another immigration program.

Citizens of the following countries may qualify for the working holiday program:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • Peru
  • New Zealand
  • Russia
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Uruguay

You can learn more about the work visa for visitors to France here.

Can you work in France on a student visa?

Students holding France visas for students can legally work in the country while completing their studies. In most cases, you can work up to 964 hours per year. Students can work for private employers or find employment on their college or university campus.

Learn more: Studying Abroad in France: A Complete Guide for 2023

Do self-employed people need a French work visa?

Yes, self-employed people need to apply for an entrepreneur/profession libérale long-stay visa, valid for one year and renewable for eligible individuals.

To qualify for the visa, you will need to submit proof that you have a viable idea for a business or that you already have an established business that you can continue to operate in France. The visa wizard tool on the official visa website will help you determine which documents you need. You can find it here.

How long does the France visa application process take?

After you complete the visa application process, your information will undergo a review. Typically, this review takes around 15 days. However, the French visa review period may be extended to up to 45 days in some cases.

Entrepreneur using his phone

Can you renew a French work visa?

Yes, you can typically renew work visas if you remain eligible for the program. Plan to renew your France work visa two months before the expiration date to allow enough time for processing your renewal request.

If you’re in Paris, you’ll apply for a renewal at the police headquarters. Otherwise, visit the local employment authorities at the prefecture office in your area to begin the process.

Can you travel outside of France on a work visa?

In most cases, you can visit countries in the Schengen area while on a work visa in France. The Schengen area is a group of 26 European countries that have entered into a partnership to allow for free travel.

Countries that participate in the program include:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

Learn more: Your Schengen Visa Guide — The Gateway to 26 Countries

Can my family come with me if I get a work visa?

In many cases, some family members may qualify for a visa if you obtain a work permit in France. Typically, your spouse and dependent children can also apply for a French visa. The visa tool will help you determine if your family members can accompany you.

Do you need a work visa to be an au pair in France?

Individuals who are between the ages of 18 and 30 who enter into an au pair agreement with a French citizen or legal French national can be eligible for a long-stay visa.

Au pairs typically receive the equivalent of a residence permit authorizing them to remain in the country for one year. In some cases, the au pair work visas can be renewed for a maximum of two years.

Learn more: Becoming an Au Pair: Your Complete Guide

Do I need a job offer to get a visa in France?

Unless you qualify for a self-employment, a student, or a talent passport, you will typically need to find a job before applying for a work visa. A French company must perform the required administrative formalities to obtain a work permit before you can begin the visa process.

Can people who hold French work visas change jobs?

If you receive a talent passport or self-employed visa for working in France, you can usually change jobs without affecting your immigration status. All other visa holders usually need to undergo an administrative process to change jobs.

If you’re looking to change jobs on a standard long visa, you’ll first need to get a work contract with another employer. Your new employer will then need to apply for a work permit on your behalf. If the application gets approved, you will then be able to change jobs.

Send money home with Remitly

Whether you’re heading to France for a seasonal job or a long-term opportunity, you’ll want to send money to and from the country. After opening a French bank account, look for an international money transfer service you trust.

Remitly makes it easy for you to send money from France to your loved ones around the world.

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