Do you want to create your business in France?
The Profession Liberale visa allows freelance work in France. You won’t need to find an employer to sponsor your self-employment visa. You will even have access to a multiple-year permit!
And if you follow the process correctly, being a freelancer in France can even become your pathway to a French passport. It is a great chance to make your dream of living in France come true. It takes a bit of effort, but it is worth it!
Now, let’s see how to get the France freelance visa!
The Profession Liberale visa request
The type of visas
If you are coming to France intending to create a business, there is a big chance that you wish to stay for more than a year. You can apply for a visa up to 3 months in advance for a long-stay visa and 6 months in advance for a short-stay visa.
When you will be filling the visa request form you will have to choose among one of the 3 durations:
- 0-3 months: This will give you access to a short stay visa (non-renewable) for stays under 90 days.
- 3-12 months: This will give you access to a renewable  12-month visa (called in French VLS-TS: Visa Long Séjour valant Titre de Séjour). The VLS-TS visa holder won’t need to go to the Prefecture to request a residence permit (see below).
- One year and beyond: You will get a visa (VLS) that will give you access to a renewable permit. The residence permit should be requested at the Prefecture (as explained further below).
How to prepare a successful file to request “Entrepreneur / Profession liberale” visa?
Make sure you check the consulate website or France-Visa website (translated into several languages) to prepare your file with the latest updated official list.
It is a good idea to come over-prepared in terms of paperwork as the administration may ask elements not mentioned on their list, depending on your situation. Also have extra copies of your paperwork, just in case.
What about your family members?
There is no Entrepreneur / Profession Liberal – Family visa. Therefore you will have two options for them to come to France:
- Your spouse meets the requirements for his/her own visa (entrepreneur, visitor, EU Blue card, student, employee visa for example)
- Your spouse and children can apply for the family reunion. However, this is not a route I would recommend since the delays are very long.
This is possible after you have resided legally for 18 months in France (Article L411-1). In that case, you should also prove that you have sufficient income and proper housing to welcome your family.
What type of company can you open to get the Profession Liberale visa?
Which legal status for your business?
There is no restriction in terms of the company status to establish.
You can even choose to go for self-employed status, also called Profession Libérale – yes the same name as the visa but it is not limited to them – or you can operate under your name with the micro-entrepreneur status for example. You also have the option to join an existing company, whatever the type, as a partner.
The 2 main elements that will be essential for your France’s self-employment visa request and later the renewal of your permit will be to:
- Register your company with the appropriate URSSAF Centre de Formalités des Entreprises (CFE)
Each business activity type has its own CFE. Make sure you register through the CFE matching your business activity.
- Prove that your business is economically viable. The company must justify enough revenue to pay the foreign entrepreneur the French minimum wage at least. This applies both to your company or the one you have joined as a partner.
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In which sector can you open your business to get the Profession Liberale visa?
Do you want to have the freedom to start any type of business to come to France?
Good news, the Profession Liberale visa doesn’t specify restriction in terms of sector. You can open your gite in an old farmhouse, do online freelance work or even be a baker in France!
The immigration status doesn’t have restriction. However, the activity itself may be restricted in terms of the qualifications required.
Important: Make sure your self-employed or company’s activity is subject to specific regulations. If this is the case, you must meet the requirements in terms of qualifications/diplomas as well as any other conditions.
Extra tips to prepare your “Entrepreneur / Profession liberale” visa request file
The French administration will request documentation to answer the following questions.
Who are you? What will you do in France? Why are you moving there? Why are you qualified to start this business? Tell us about your business plan. What is your projection of how much you think you can charge? What is your estimated revenue for the next 3 years? …
A 2 to 3-page business plan will help you to be synthetic and to the point. But you can also choose a longer version.
The following documents are not in the consulate list but may be a good idea to add to your file:
- A synthetic one-page curriculum (French way of making a curriculum).
- Articles about your activities (if it already exists), references, …
- Proof of previous business sold,
- Letters of interest from potential future clients…
The interview at the French Consulate
This interview is more of an appointment to check your documentation. They will ask you any questions they may have about the documentation provided. You will also be requested to pay the visa fee of 99 EUR (2021 figure to be paid in the local currency). This will be confirmed to you in the appointment confirmation e-mail.
This appointment will be held in your home language (or the language of the country where you are residing and requesting the visa from).
If any documents are missing or extra documents requested, you will be given an e-mail address to send these documents to. Once your file is complete, the visa will be processed. Depending on the consulate, the visa can be sent back by postal mail within the next 10 business days.
You will also be provided with a form called « demande d’attestation OFII ». You should keep this document as you will need it in France to validate your France freelance visa. If you lose it, it won’t prevent you to validate it, you will need to get one from OFII (see below).
Once in France
You have a VLS-TS “Entrepreneur / Profession liberale” visa
Your visa validation into a residence permit
What is OFII?
OFII is the French Office for Immigration and Integration (Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Integration). It has several duties. The ones that interest us today are the welcoming of non-EU nationals to France and facilitating their integration.
Don’t expect relocation services or personalized advice here!
The main OFII objectives  here is to:
- Provide pieces of training to facilitate the integration to the French culture and civics
- Provide free of charge French courses when identified necessary
- Make medical consultations to check you are healthy when entering the country.
The OFII medical appointment does not apply to some immigration status. However, it does apply to the Entrepreneur / Profession Liberal visa, unless you were previously on some other status and registered to the French Assurance Maladie (the National healthcare system).
The validation of your entry visa as a residence permit is subject to validating these 3 steps. You will be requested to sign the CIR (Contrat d’Intégration Républicaine). This is your commitment to take the integration pathway and pieces of training assigned to you.
Receiving a 4-year residence card will be possible only when attending the pieces of training and accepting the values of the French Republic (mainly the French way of secularism).
Validate your entry visa online within your first 3 months
Good news for you, the validation process of your entry visa into a residence permit is now done online since February 18, 2019!
The VLS-TS exempts you from requesting a residence permit from the Prefecture your first year in France! But you absolutely need to validate your entry visa. This validation must be done within the first 3 months following your arrival.
You will need to provide these documents via the online validation platform:
- Visa information
- Date of entry in France
- Address of residence in France
- The « demande d’attestation OFII » form provided by the French Consulate
- Your credit/debit card to pay the residence permit delivery tax (200€ for the Entrepreneur visa validation)
You will receive 2 e-mails:
- A first email with your login details. You will be able to access your account. You will download the validation of your VLS-TS visa.
- A second email confirming the information you provided.
Make sure you print and keep your visa validation document. You will need to provide it as the tax proof of payment. It will be requested to collect your residence permit.
Now you will just need to wait to be called in for an appointment with OFII. You will receive your convocation by postal mail or by email depending on where you live.
CAUTION: If you do not validate your visa within the 3-month time frame, you will no longer be staying legally in France. You will not be able to leave the Schengen zone and re-enter the country without a valid visa.
Your first OFII appointment: your Contract of Integration (CIR)
Your first visit to OFII will last half a day.
You will need to provide the following documents:
- The copy of the convocation you received by e-mail,
- Proof of address in France (energy bill under 3 months).
- Confirmation of the validation of your visa.
You will be given a French assessment test. If you already have a French diploma, such as the DELF. It is a good idea to bring it. This may avoid you from taking this test!
You will sit with an OFII representative.
You will sign your CIR. During this appointment, the first 2 days of your 4 days French civics course will be scheduled. Also, if your French assessment test shows that you need French classes, your OFII representative will explain to you how it will work.
47,3 % of the people received A1 French classes in 2018 with OFII. Depending on the results of your language test, you will be given 50h, 100h or up to 200h of French classes according to your level. Classes usually take place on Saturdays.
After the completion of every training, you will be provided with an attestation. All your attestations will be necessary to renew your residence permit when your visa (VLS-TS) expires.
Your OFII second visit: the medical examination
This medical appointment is mainly for prevention purposes.
You will also have to take a chest X-Ray as a Tuberculosis scan during this appointment. You will see a few specialists that will make a general check-up. They will ask questions about your medical history.
You have a VLS ” Entrepreneur / Profession Liberale “
Your Prefecture appointment
In some cases, instead of receiving a VLS-TS (Visa Long Séjour valant Titre de Séjour), you can be provided with a simple Long Stay Visa (VLS). In that case, you will not need to validate your visa. However, you will have to go to the local Prefecture within your first 2 months in France to request a 12-month entrepreneur/profession liberal permit.
If you are issued a VLS, the mention “carte de séjour à solliciter dans les 2 mois suivant l’arrivée” (Permit to request within 2 months following arrival) will be written on your visa.
When you request the permit at your local Prefecture, you will need to pay 200 EUR plus 25 EUR to issue the card. The payment will need to be in fiscal stamp. You will need to provide proof of payment when picking up your 12-month permit at the Prefecture.
The documents needed
You will need to go to the Préfecture to get the updated list to request your permit. As a general rule the below documents are requested:
- Your valid passport and valid for at least three months after the visa expiry date;
- Your Long-stay visa or valid residence permit (in case of change of status);
- Proof of marital status and nationality:
- Passport (pages covering marital status, validity dates, entry stamps and visas);
- Birth certificate with filiation;
- Where applicable, spouse’s residence permit; copy marriage certificate or the children’ birth certificates with filiation (documents applicable at the moment of the application);
- Proof of address dated within the last six months (or, failing that, certificate of accommodation provided by a private individual or a hotel); or a lease contract dated less than 3 months.
- Three recent passport photos following the Prefecture requirements
- ” Entrepreneur/independent professional ” temporary residence permit application form Cerfa nº.13473*01;
- Applicant’s criminal records extract or equivalent from your home country.
- Documents providing evidence of the applicant’s ability to carry out the planned commercial, industrial or entrepreneurial activity;
- Evidence of financial means corresponding to the gross annual statutory French minimum wage (SMIC),
- Proof of payment of the stamp duty ;
- Plus all the business-related documents provided for the initial self-employment visa request.
What happens after the first year?
The first renewal
Two months before the expiry of your temporary residence permit (VLS-TS or permit), you must submit a renewal application at your local Prefecture. Do not wait until the end of the validity to request the renewal.
Once you have provided a complete file, you will be given a recépissé. This receipt authorises you to work and travel until you receive the card permit (Titre de séjour also called Carte de séjour).
When you prove that you continue to meet the conditions for eligibility for the Entrepreneur / Profession Liberale visa, you will be granted a 4-year permit extension. Proof of a comprehensive healthcare cover will also be requested.
With this card, you will not need to do any immigration processes for the next four years! Congratulations!
The 10-year card
After 5 years residing continuously in France (one-year visa/permit followed by a 4 years permit), you can secure a long-term residence card with the mention “Long-Term Residence CE”. This is a 10-year permanent residence card.
To be eligible to get the permanent residence card, you must continue to meet the conditions for initial eligibility and prove sufficient resources and have healthcare cover. 
You also need to provide a French level diploma attesting you have the A2 level minimum. After 5 years of living and working in France, I hope that you reached this lower intermediate level. 
This 10-year residence card is renewable indefinitely.
A pathway to French citizenship
Are you looking for a door opener to an EU passport?
The Entrepreneur/Profession liberale visa is one of the pathways towards French citizenship . This means that the years under this immigration status count towards the 5 years required to meet the 1st requirement for citizenship request.
After 5 years of continuous residence, you can start the French citizenship request in parallel to your first 10-year card request.
Be ready for a lengthy process!
It can go up to an 18-month process depending on the Prefecture. You will need to prove that you have a B1 level with the appropriate diploma.
You will also have an “assimilation interview” in French to show your integration into French culture. 
French citizenship doesn’t happen easily. For this reason, the 10-year residence card should be requested first. It will give you the peace of mind to go through his long process.
To wrap up
The Profession liberale visa is not an easy one to get as you must prove the economical viability of your business but on the other hand, you don’t need to find an employer to sponsor your visa.
Every entrepreneur take risks to succeed. The business plan and paperwork requested to get the visa are also an opportunity to plan better your business in France to succeed.
This France freelance visa is the way to start over in France by creating your passion job! And to crown it all, it allows you to request a French passport if you want to once you check all the requirements. A great opportunity to consider!
References: R. 311-3 of the CESEDA  Art. 1 – Loi n° 2016-274 du 7 mars 2016  Art. L314-8  Art. L314-2  Art. 21-24 of the French Civil Code