Immigration

The 6 French work visas to move to France

Do you want to come to work and live in France?

If you are a non-EU citizen, you will need to have a French work visa to live this experience. It can sometimes be confusing to know which one matches your situation. I have listed for you the 6 different work visas available with their main criteria and advantages.

These are only the visas with work as the main motive for the visa request. 

Other visas allow working but with another main motive such as the French spouse visa, the student visa (60% of a full-time position), the unemployment-company creation visa and the working-holiday visa (maximum of 964 hours per year – 60% of a full-time position).

Specific French work visas for high potentials

A French work visa dedicated to talents to come to work and live in France.

The Talent Passport visa includes 10 different categories depending on your specifics skills, the type of your employment and/or your income level.

I will focus now on the three Talent Passport types that do not take into account specific skills or type of employment: the EU Blue Card, the Skilled employee visa and the Expatriate assignment visa.

France work visa
Photo by Slon Dot Pics

The EU Blue Card visa (visa Carte Bleue Européenne)

The top-level income talents that do not fall under the other specific skills and profiles (researcher, renowned artists, champions…) will apply for the EU Blue Card.

The four main advantages are:

  • No work authorisation from the DIRECCTE is required (the local division of the French Ministry of Labour).

  • You get a four-year residence permit passed the initial one-year permit (or long-stay visa).

  • Your spouse and children have access to a facilitated visa request to join you in France.

  • After 18 months working in France under an EU Blue Card, you can move to another EU member state.

The main criteria to apply for an EU Blue Card visa are:

  • Hold a higher education degree (minimum 3 years) OR five years of professional experience in a specific area.

  • Receive a gross annual salary (before bonuses) of a minimum of 1,5 times the referential average gross reference salary (€ 35 891.00): € 53 836.50  (since 2016 – 2021 data).

  • Have a one-year work contract minimum.

You will find more details about the EU Blue card status and request process in this dedicated article.

Family in France
Photo by Loli Galina

The Skilled employee visa (visa salarié qualifié)

The skilled employee visa is also part of the Talent Passport visas with a slightly lower income threshold.

The three main advantages of this French work visa are:

  • No work authorisation from the DIRECCTE is required (the local division of the French Ministry of Labour).

  • You get a four-year residence permit passed the initial one-year permit (or long-stay visa).

  • Your spouse and children have access to a facilitated visa request to join you in France.

The main criteria to apply for a skilled visa are:

  • Hold a French diploma: Licence Professionnelle or Masters.

  • Receive a gross annual salary (before bonuses) of a minimum of € 37 310 in 2021.
  • Have a minimum three-month work contract or more.
Globe
Photo by Kyle Glenn

The Expatriate assignment visa (visa Passeport Talent - Mention salarié en mission)

The Expatriate assignment visa has been created for employees already employed by a company abroad that wish to be transferred to France for a limited duration (up to 4 years). 

The three main advantages are:

  • No work authorisation from the DIRECCTE is required (the local division of the French Ministry of Labour).

  • You have a French work contract and as a social contributor it opens rights to the French Social system (Maternity, unemployment, pension…)

  • Your spouse and children have access to a facilitated visa request to join you in France.

The main criteria to apply for this employment visa are:

  • Having an executive role or bringing a specific expertise

  • Holding a work contract with the French entity.

  • Having more than 3 months of seniority in the company before the transfer to France.

  • Receive a gross annual salary (before bonuses) of a minimum of 1,8 times the French minimum salary (€ 33 578.93 in 2021).

If you do not have a French work contract, the seconded – Intra Company Transfer visa detailed further below may suit your situation.

The Employee visa (visa salarié)

The employee visa is the most delivered French work visa. It still has its challenges.

Compared with the previous Talent-Passport visas, you will need to get an authorisation to work from the Labour Ministry. This means that your employer needs to sponsor your visa, prove that a French or EU citizen cannot perform the job (unless it is a job with many vacancies) and pay a tax.

The two main advantages are:

  • You get a four-year residence permit passed the initial one-year permit (or long-stay visa).

  • Your spouse and children can request a visa to come together with you to France, (only if requested at the same time as you. Otherwise the reunion family visa will apply after a minimum of 18 months in France!).

The main criteria to apply for this employment visa are:

  • Having a permanent work contract (Contrat à Durée Indéterminée: CDI).

  • Your employer needs to request work authorisation from the DIRECCTE (the local division of the French Ministry of Labour) before you arrive in France (or a change of status request if you are already in France).

Specific to Masters French diploma graduates

If you have found a job within two months before the expiry of your student visa that is linked to your studies and are paid a minimum of 1.5 times the French minimum salary (in 2021: € 2 331.88 monthly gross salary before bonus), the employer will not need to prove that they couldn’t recruit a French or EU citizen.

The Temporary Worker visa (visa Travailleur temporaire)

This visa has been created for workers with a temporary work contract.

The main advantage is:

  • Your spouse can request a visa to come together with you to France, (only if requested at the same time as you. Otherwise the reunion family visa will apply after a minimum of 18 months in France!) 

The main criteria to apply for this French work visa are:

  • Having a temporary work contract (Contrat à Durée Déterminée: CDD).

  • Your employer needs to request work authorisation from the DIRECCTE (the local division of the French Ministry of Labour) before you arrive in France (or a change of status request if you are already in France).

The first long-stay visa will last 12 months if your work contract is longer than 3 months. The renewal will match the remaining time on your temporary contract or the new temporary contract you may have.

arrival in France
Photo by Daniel Schludi

The seconded - Intra Company Transfer visa (visa Salarié détaché ICT)

The Intra-Company Transfer visa has been created for employees already employed by a company abroad that wish to be transferred to their French entity for a limited duration (up to 3 years).

The two main advantages are:

  • No work authorisation from the DIRECCTE is required (the local division of the French Ministry of Labour).

  • Your spouse and children have access to a facilitated visa request to join you in France.

The main criteria to apply for an ICT visa are:

  • Having an executive role or bringing specific expertise.

  • Holding a work contract with the foreign entity (No French work contract is provided).

  • Having 6-month seniority or more in the company before the transfer to France.

  • Receive a gross annual salary (before bonuses) of a minimum the French minimum salary.

The first long-stay visa will last 12 months if your work contract is longer than 3 months. The permit renewal duration will match the remaining time of your international assignment.

France entrepreneur visa
Photo by Vlada Karpovich

The Entrepreneur Visa (visa Entrepreneur Profession Libérale)

If you are an entrepreneur or plan to start your business in France, the visa Entrepreneur Profession Liberale is the perfect French work visa for you!

The two main advantages are:

  • No work authorisation from the DIRECCTE is required (the local division of the French Ministry of Labour).

  • You get a four-year residence permit passed the initial one-year permit (or long-stay visa) when you prove that you continue to meet the conditions for eligibility for the Entrepreneur visa.

The main criteria to apply for an Entrepreneur Profession Liberale visa are:

  • Register your company with the appropriate URSSAF (Business social contribution centre)

  • Prove that your business is economically viable. The company must justify enough revenue to pay the foreign entrepreneur the French minimum wage at least. 

Get more details about the Entrepreneur visa for France in this article.

The Seasonal worker visa (visa Travailleur saisonnier)

This visa is specifically for seasonal workers that keep their main residence outside of France and come to France to work for up to six consecutive months in France.

The main advantage:

  • You can request a three-year residence permit passed the initial one-year permit (or long-stay visa).

The main criteria to apply for a Seasonal worker visa are:

  • Your employer needs to request work authorisation from the DIRECCTE (the local division of the French Ministry of Labour) before you arrive in France (or change of status request if you are already in France)

  • Maximum 6-month consecutive work in France for 12 months.

  • Have a seasonal work contract for a minimum of three months.

  • Keep the main residence outside France.

In short

Only high potentials and executive positions get a French work visa without needing a work authorisation besides the Entrepreneur Profession Liberale visa holder.

Getting a work authorisation can be a challenge! So it can sometimes be worth having a plan B to come to live in France.

Check out the Expat in France guide to figure out your best options to move to France and have the life your dream!

In video

More expats dedicated videos on Expat in France YouTube channel

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