Except for EU nationals, all citizens require a passport with three months’ validity to enter France. EU nationals may present a valid national ID card instead.
Visa procedures for France are complicated and, as with all countries, changes do occur. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs is your best source of current, detailed information. Holders of American, Canadian, British and other EU passports do not need visas for stays in France of up to three months. EU nationals do not need visas to live or work in France. Other passport holders may need to apply for appropriate visas. Visas and working papers must be obtained before you leave your home country. Residence cards are obtained after your arrival in France. Together, these papers represent the terms under which you may reside and work in France. Be aware that documents needed for official purposes often have to be translated into French.
A work visa is required if you are being sent to France by an overseas employer, and your anticipated stay is longer than your passport alone would allow. The employer usually must initiate the application process through the French Ministry of Labour. If the application is approved, the French Consulate in the country of origin will notify the assignee to continue the application process.
The full process takes two to three months. Materials required for application are extensive and subject to change: for current requirements, contact your nearest French consulate.
There are a number of work permit types. Two in particular are designed for international assignees.
Employee On Assignment Permit. This visa is valid for a stay of three years, and can be renewed. Applicants must be employed by their sponsoring company for three months prior to application, and must provide proof of gross salary equal to 1.5 times the minimum wage. Accompanying family members may apply for work permits after a stay of six months.
Employee On Assignment Card. This visa is valid for a stay of three years and can be renewed. It is intended for senior managers and high-level executives. Accompanying family members may receive work permits upon approval of this permit. All work permit recipients must present an endorsed employment contract and obtain a medical certificate from the Agence Nationale de l’Accueil des Étrangers et des Migrations (ANAEM). This requirement can be completed in countries with ANAEM delegations, or within three months of your arrival in France.
The Schengen agreement is a treaty providing for the removal of systematic border controls between participating countries.There are now 26 countries in the Schengen zone: 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, and Switzerland issue Schengen visas for short-stay travellers.
- If visiting one Schengen country, the visa should be obtained at the nearest embassy or consulate of this country.
- If visiting a number of Schengen countries, but staying in a single country for a longer period than the others, the visa should be obtained from the main destination’s embassy or consulate.
- If visiting a number of Schengen countries without a main destination, the visa should be obtained at the embassy or the consulate of the first destination.
- Visitors can travel freely for a cumulative stay of six months between the participating countries.
All foreign visitors on short-term stays must also report to the local police within eight days of arrival. If you are staying in a hotel, the management usually handles this matter automatically.
For important, detailed information on entry requirements in France, the appropriate embassies, consulates, and online visa information databases are essential resources.
To work, you must obtain French working papers prior to your departure for France. These papers consist of a work contract prepared by the French National Office of Immigration and a valid visa. These requirements are imposed on all foreign employees even with foreign companies in France – exceptions are foreign government employees and international civil servants.
Your employer in France files the application for papers; two or three months should be allowed for a reply. Working papers must be collected from the French consulate nearest to your permanent residence; working papers are not issued in France. These papers will allow you to work in France for six months and may be renewed for two additional six-month periods. Your residence card will be issued to run concurrently with your working papers.
The foreign owner or manager of a commercial concern or enterprise in France – including branches or subsidiaries of foreign parent companies – must apply for a foreign tradeperson card or carte de Commerçant Étranger from the nearest French consulate. The process takes at least four months to complete. Extensive legal documents and notarised originals and translations are required. This permit does not allow the holder to reside in France; you will still be required to apply for a long-stay visa after your application has been approved. For complete information, contact your nearest French consulate.
Twenty-four EU member states – including France – participate in a Blue Card scheme that allows highly-educated non-EU citizens to work and stay more easily in an EU country. The UK, Denmark, and Ireland do not participate.
The general conditions for Blue Card application are that you:
- Must be a non-EU national
- Have a university degree
- Possess a valid work contract or binding job offer in the EU.
There are also minimum salary requirements, which vary by country. Spouses are included in the Blue Card, and after 18 months in one EU country, the Blue Card permits the holder to move to and work in another EU country. For more details, http://www.apply.eu/Questions/ .
Anyone intending to reside in France for more than three months, except for holders of the long-stay multiple-entry visa, must apply for a titre de séjour – residence title. There are two types of cards – the carte de séjour and the carte de résident.
Carte de séjour. A carte de séjour can be obtained from a French consulate in your home country prior to departure or from the French police – préfecture de police – following your arrival. It is valid for one year and is renewable for six months. If you do not obtain this before arriving in France, you must do so as soon as possible after your arrival. Cards will also be processed for your spouse and children.
Your carte de séjour serves as your identification while you are in France. It should be carried at all times. If it is lost or stolen, you should report it to the police as soon as possible.
Carte de resident. A carte de résident provides more permanent status. It is issued for a ten-year period and is automatically renewed. It is also a work permit in itself. Spouses of French citizens may obtain a carte de résident immediately, but others must first obtain the carte de séjour and then wait for a specified number of years to be eligible.
- Information courtesy of Living Abroad, www.livingabroad.com