An image of the Louvre in France

France 8 min

Work permits and visas in France: an employer’s guide

Written by Sally Flaxman
Sally Flaxman


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France is a hugely attractive country for both workers and businesses to settle in. However, its work permit and visa requirements can be complex.

To hire or relocate a team member to France, you have to help the employee obtain the right documents to work and live there legally. This can be a tricky process, especially if you have no prior knowledge of France’s labor and immigration laws.

In this guide, we’ll explain the basics of work permits and visas in France, and show you the various steps you may need to take to acquire them. We’ll also explain how a global employment partner like Remote can help you hire or relocate employees abroad quickly and efficiently.

Why is immigration compliance important in France?

As trends shift towards remote work, governments start to reassess their existing policies on immigration. For example, there are many instances of workers on tourist visas overstaying in countries. This can create issues for themselves and the companies they work for, and authorities are cracking down.

If you and your employee fail to comply with French employment laws and tax practices, you may receive fines, penalties, ongoing scrutiny, and reputational damage. That’s why it's crucial to ensure your team member is eligible to work and has the right paperwork to work legally in the country.

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Who is eligible to work in France?

French citizens are, by default, eligible to work in France (even if they currently live abroad), as are permanent residents.

Citizens of EU and EEA member states can also live and work in France without the need for a visa or work permit, as can citizens of Switzerland, Monaco, and Andorra. The current EU and EEA member states are:

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Iceland

Nationals of other countries can also live and work in France, but they will require both a work permit and a valid visa.

Here’s what you need to know about getting these documents — including what you, as the employer, need to do.

Work permits and visas in France

As mentioned, non-EEA/Swiss nationals require both a work permit and a visa to live and work in France.

These documents can be issued for various purposes, such as for seasonal work, specific professions (i.e. medicine, teaching, and modeling), and internships.

However, the three most common streams are for the following:

Employment in France

This stream is suitable if you are hiring an employee in France for either a permanent or fixed-term position.

Your employee will need a work permit and a long-stay visa of up to 12 months.

Provision of services in France

This stream is suitable if you don’t have a registered business entity in France, and the employee will be providing services to a French client.

Under this stream, you will need a work permit and a long-stay travailleur temporaire visa.

Intra-company transfer

This stream is suitable if your company has an entity in France, and you are relocating an existing employee.

Again, you will need a work permit and a long-stay travailleur temporaire visa. Note that, if your employee is a senior manager, or possesses a high level of subject matter expertise, they will require a specialist long-stay visa known as a salarié détaché ICT.

Getting a work permit in France

The first step is to obtain a work permit for the employee, which — as the employer — is your responsibility.

To do this, you will need to apply to the Ministry of the Interior’s dedicated online portal.

Before making the application, you must publish the job posting for at least three weeks on a public employment agency website (such as Apec or Pôle Emploi). This is to prove that you have attempted to find a candidate in the French labor market before hiring a non-EEA national.

During the application, you will need to provide:

  • A cover letter detailing the job role

  • Documents supporting your company’s status as a legal employer in France

  • Copies of your employee’s passport, CV, and relevant qualifications and certificates

Note that, if your company is based outside of France, your application must also include:

  • A signed employment contract

  • A sworn declaration of application for registration in the French social security system

Your application will then be assessed based on the following criteria:

  • Current employment levels in your employee’s field

  • Your employee’s skills, qualifications, and experience

  • Your company’s level of compliance with regulatory conditions and labor laws

  • The conditions and salary of the role (which must not be lower than the national minimum wage)

You will be notified by email if your application has been successful.

You can learn more about acquiring a work permit on the French government website.

What about the EU Blue Card?

The EU Blue Card is an alternative work permit for skilled workers from outside the EU/EEA. It allows holders to work in the issuing country, and travel freely to other EU/EEA countries.To obtain an EU Blue Card, your employee must:

  • Possess a 3-year diploma or degree from a recognized higher education institution

  • Earn a gross annual salary of at least €53,837

In France, Blue Cards are valid for up to four years.

Note that, if your employee has held an EU Blue Card in another EU member state for at least 18 months, they are entitled to receive one in France (provided they apply within a month of arriving in the country). You can learn more about France’s Blue Card here.

Getting a visa in France

Once you have obtained a work permit, your employee can then apply for a visa. To do this, they will need to apply (in person) at the French embassy or consulate in their current country of residence. They will need to provide:

  • A signed and completed application form

  • A valid work permit

  • A valid passport and passport photos

  • Any relevant supporting documents, such as qualification certificates.

Note that the application process can take up to three months, and the authorities may require further information.

Once issued, your employee can then travel to France, where they must validate their visa within three months of arriving.

If your employee intends to stay in France for longer than a year, they must apply for a residence permit at their local Préfecture.

What about the Schengen Visa?

The Schengen Visa allows holders to visit France (or any Schengen member state) for up to 90 days.

On its own, though, it does not allow holders to work in France. It is generally designed for tourism or personal purposes, such as visiting family or friends.

Does France offer a digital nomad visa?

Currently, the answer is no — there is no specialist digital nomad visa available in France. It’s also illegal to work on a tourist visa. However, your employee can potentially work for up to one year on a working holiday visa.

These visas are intended for young workers between the ages of 18 and 30, and are available for nationals of the following 16 countries:

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

Note that the age limit is extended to 35 for nationals of Argentina, Australia, and Canada. You can learn more about France’s working holiday visa here.

13 min

How to use an Employer of Record in France

Learn how to use an EOR in France and find out how an employer of record platform like Remote can make it easy to hire globally with full compliance.

As you can see, handling work permits and visas to support your team member’s move abroad is not an easy process. Apart from dealing with a mountain of paperwork, you’ll also have to deal with the intricacies of hiring, paying, and managing employees in France in compliance with local laws. If you partner with a global HR service like Remote, international hiring and relocation can become quick, simple, and efficient. As well as helping you manage your employees’ onboarding, benefits, taxes, and payroll, we can also support you with their relocation process. Specifically, we will:

  1. Set up a consultation with one of our mobility experts

  2. Review your employee’s existing visa and citizenship status

  3. Review the visa and work permit requirements for the desired country relocation

  4. Review your employee’s eligibility to work in France

  5. Fill out the paperwork (with assistance from you and your employee)

  6. Submit the application

Download Remote’s Relocation Guide for expert advice on how you can make the process of employee relocation simple. You can also book a consultation with one of our friendly mobility gurus — and get the relocation process started today.

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