Companies targeting France for the next step of their global expansion face unravelling the red tape surrounding Visas and Work Permits for France if they intend to move existing staff into their new territory. French visa, residency or work permits regulations require expert guidance as they vary according to the country foreign nationals live in – the European Union, the European Economic Area, and other foreign nationals are all affected by these complex regulations.

Organising documentation, coupled with migrating staff across the world, needs a designated in-house department. Few companies have the time, the resources or want to invest in such an operation. Bradford Jacobs does have the resources to sidestep all these issues. As an international payroll provider, we ensure all your employees comply with work permit and visa regulations with our Employer of Record (EOR) solution.

There is an alternative. We can also recruit staff in France through our Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) networks without requiring visas or work permits. The result? Your company is running within days rather than weeks or even months. 

The different types of Visas and Work Permits for France

When travelling abroad for work, business or pleasure, most people need either an entry visa or work visa, work or residence permit depending on the country they are going to and which country they are travelling from. In France, the process is highly complicated, and although information is readily available, the procedures can be tricky for the uninitiated and professional advice will be a boon!

France is a member of the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Association (EEA), and these nations’ citizens have ‘free movement’ within this area, alongside the Economic Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries and do not require an entry visa, work, or residence permit. 

However, they will need the following:

  • A valid national ID card or
  • A valid passport
  • Plus – they need to be qualified for any job they apply for with appropriate documentation.

After three months in France, they must register with their local town hall or municipality, where they can apply for a residence permit if desired.

As well as the countries mentioned above, other Third Country nationals can enter France (a member of the Schengen area) without a visa for up to 90 days in any 180-day period and are on the visa-exempt list. Check this link for those who require a visa:

Those not on the exempt list will need a Type C Schengen Visa also known as a Short-Stay Visa, or Uniform Stay Visa which allows them to:

  • Visit family
  • For holiday and cultural reasons
  • For training, business meetings and internships
  • For paid work under certain circumstances (e.g., for less than 90 days)

This visa does not permit citizens to bring their families or settle in France. They can apply for single or multiple entries. People not in the EU, EEA or EFTA also require ‘permission to work’, a Short-Stay Visa, and a short fixed-term contract.

To work for less than 90 days: A Temporary Work Permit (ATP, autorisation provisoire de travail) applied for by the employer from the French Labour Ministry. 

To work for more than 90 days: Prospective employees require a Work Permit for longer stays and longer periods of employment. These permits can be:

  • Long Stay Visa (VLS-TS)   

Visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour (VLS-TS) allows the holder to live and work in France for one year when validated by l’Office Francais de l’Immigration et de I’Integration (OFII). This can be used as a Residence Permit and serves as a Work Permit.

  • The Talent Passport Permit  

Salarie qualifie’: For highly skilled and qualified workers with:

  1. A degree and/or up to five years of equivalent professional experience.
  2. A work contract for one year with income over twice the minimum wage.

‘Enterprise Innovante’

  1. A work contract for one year with income over twice the minimum wage.
  2. The job is related to the company’s research and development strategy.

‘EU Blue Card’

  1. A work contract for a one-year minimum.
  2. A degree or three-year educational diploma or up to five years of equivalent professional experience.
  3. Salary agreed at 1.5 times the average French gross salary.
  • Specific Work Permit

Suppose the foreign national does not possess a Visa or Residence Permit or qualify for the Talent Passport Permit. In that case, the employer applies for a ‘specific work permit’ to be submitted at least three months before the employee is due to start. The contract can be fixed or permanent. After receiving the work permit, the employee must apply for an entry visa and residence permit.

  • Temporary Worker Permit marked ‘Employee’

This allows salaried employment for those who do not qualify for the Talent Passport or other Long-Stay Visas but will need the following:

  1. A fixed-term work contract.
  2. The employer will need to apply for a Work Permit, and acceptance will depend on the regional employment levels, i.e., “opposability of employment status”.

How to Obtain Visas and Work Permits for France

European Union (EU), European Economic Association (EEA) and Swiss nationals do not require a Residence Permit, Visas or Work permits for France.

Third Country nationals who are not on the visa-exempt list and whose employment will be for less than three months need to obtain the following:

  • Employment contract.
  • A Short-Stay Visa – this can be obtained from a French Consulate or Embassy in the country of residence and started online. This link helps to determine whether a visa is required and the steps involved.
  • A Temporary Work Permit applied for by the employer from the French Labour Ministry.

For longer periods of employment and residence in France, a Work Contract that needs to be authorised by the *DIRECCTE, a Work Permit, a Visa to enter France, and a Residence permit are all required to live and work for up to a year. Depending on the occupation and salary, the qualifications and educational documents will determine the necessary paperwork.

* DIRECCTE – the French Regional Department of Enterprise, Competition, Consumer Affairs, Labour and Employment

A Long-Stay Visa (D-Visa) for more than 90 days and up to one year. This is equivalent to a Residence Permit and also serves as a Work Permit and is called a Visa de long séjour Valant titre de séjour VLS-TS and can give up to one year’s residence without having to apply for the Carte de séjour, (long-term resident permit that allows a family to reside in France). Including VLS-TS ‘Employee’ for foreign citizens employed with a contract longer than one year.

Salaried Employees Visa: Applicants must have a work contract (fixed or permanent) authorized by the DIRECCTE for up to 12 months. Also, the employer must obtain permission to employ foreign Third Country nationals.

Talent Passport Permits – Highly qualified and skilled workers with high-level qualifications, a contract of one year or more with up to 1.5 times the national gross average salary. Includes the EU Blue Card.

The VLS-TS Long-Stay Visas are equivalent to Residence Permits and also serve as Work Permits.

How to Apply Visas and Work Permits for France

The process of living and working in France is as follows:

  • Find a job
  • Examine the type of visa and work permit required
  • The employer applies for a relevant work permit through the local employment office (DIRECCTE) where the employee will work. Some Long-Stay Visas, such as VLS-TS / Talent Passport Permits, can be used as Residence and Work Permits.
  • After receiving the work permit, a Long-Stay Visa needs to be applied for, which acts as both Visa and Residence Permit.
  • When arriving in France, contact the L’Office Francais de l’Immigration et de I’Integration(OFII) with a completed OFII form. They endorse the passport with a sticker to show the employee is legal in France.

Work Permits   

It allows the employees to apply for Work Visas and Residence Permits to work in France. The employer has to apply for the Work Permit (excluding, e.g., VLS-TS / Talent Passport Permits) three months before the employee is due to arrive. From April 2021, applications should be through the dedicated portal:

When the application is sanctioned, it goes to the OFII. Once agreed upon, the employer is notified, and it will then be sent to the Embassy or Consulate where the application originated. This allows the employee to apply for a Long-Stay Visa.

Documents required for Work Permit:

  • Letter explaining employee’s job description and duties and reason for enrolment.
  • Application for work permit Cerfa no. 15187*1 when the employee is outside France.
  • Recent extract of the commercial register.
  • Proof up to date with social security payments.
  • A proof that the employer tried to fill the position in France.
  • Copy of a valid passport of the employee.
  • Proof of residence in the home country.
  • When necessary, a copy of the employee’s qualifications relevant to the position.
  • Employee’s CV with evidence of skill for the position.

For companies outside France, other documentation is required. All relevant documents must be sent by the employer to French Immigration Office (OFII) to be approved. 

A VLS-TS Long-Stay Visa

It is the equivalent of a Residence Permit. And can serve as a Work Permit in some cases. It is applied for at a local French Embassy/Consulate where the prospective employee is a resident.  The process can be started online via the French website at:

An interview may be needed in person for the necessary biometrics. An external service provider can be utilized to help with the visa process.

Documents required:

  • Application form for Long-Stay Visa, Form 14571-05 for a salaried employee, can be completed online visa France-visas.
  • Valid Passport issued within the previous ten years and valid until three months after the employee’s expected departure.
  • Two passport photographs.
  • Submit an OFII Form.

Other paperwork will depend on which Long Stay Visa is being applied for.

When arriving in France, a notice will be attached to the passport. Within three months, the holder must register with the OFII to authorise the Residence Permit.


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