France is at the top of the list when looking for a country to work in or launch your business if you plan to expand to Europe. It fosters a pro-business environment, lucrative financial market, encourages innovation in technology, and has a highly educated workforce. To start your business in France or if you intend to work here, you need to obtain the correct French work visa suited to your needs. Check out the different visas available, how to get them, and the requirements you will need to fulfill.
Types of Work and Business Visas in France
The requirements for a French work visa for foreigners employed in France, are categorized based on the length of stay and the type of work relationship they have with their company. If you are from the EU/EEA/Switzerland, you do not need a short-stay or long-term work visa.
- Short-Stay Work Visa
A short-stay work visa is needed if you plan to work in France or have an employee assigned to France for 90 days or less. This type of visa is most often used to meet clients, partners, and affiliates or to attend professional conferences and seminars. The processing time is from two to 15 days.
- Long-Term Work Visa
For work periods of longer than 90 days, you should apply for a long-term work visa. The long-term work visa also serves as a residency permit in France. To be eligible for this visa, you will need to be employed by a French entity or a branch of a company located in France. You will be required to present an employment contract and application, in person at the consulate with a valid passport.
The application process generally takes around six weeks. Having this type of visa allows you to bring family members along with you.
- Self-Employment Visas
Independent workers can apply for a self-employment visa wherein you will be issued the equivalent of a long-term visa that acts as a VLS/TS residency permit. This visa should be validated within 15 days of your arrival in France, after which it is valid for a period of 1 year. After the period of 1 year, the visa is renewable.
- Talent Passport – Business Creator
Entrepreneurs who want to set up a business in France can apply for a Talent Passport. You will need to show the economic viability of your intended project. Moreover, an investment of 30,000 EUR (35,500 USD) is required. You must also prove a minimum of five years of professional work experience or at least a master’s degree.
- Tech Visa – Founder
The French Tech visa aims to bring successful foreign startup talent to France. You will need to have found a startup in a partner incubator and have the financial backing equivalent to the annual minimum wage in France to qualify for a Tech Visa. Next, you need to get your startup approved by the French Administration through the partner incubator.
Depending on the nature of your startup and the duration, you can be granted a visa that is valid for as long as four years.
- Tech Visa – Investor
Another option, if you are not a startup founder but in the tech space, is the French Tech Investor Visa. You will need to invest at least 300,000 EUR (350,500 USD), own at least 10% of the company, and plan to create jobs within at least four years following the investment.
For the business creator, tech, and investor visa, if you plan to stay for less than 12 months, you will first be issued a VLS/TS residency permit.
The requirements needed to apply for a French Visa may vary depending on your country of origin and the type of visa you are getting. You will need to prepare the requirements below, across all visa types:
- Completed French Work Visa application form
- Two passport-sized photos taken with the last 3 months
- Valid passport
- Proof of financial means. It could be in the form of recent bank statements, sponsor letters, or your employment contract stating your salary in France.
- Police certificate that shows a clear criminal record
- Proof of paid French work visa application fee
Additional requirements for Business Creator and Investor Visa:
- Evidence of financial resources and status, such as bank statements from the last six months and income tax return
- Documents supporting your socio-professional status like diplomas and resume
- French tax clearance
- Business plan for the Business Creator Visa
How to Apply
Work Visa through an Employer
- Your employer in France should send your work contract to the French Ministry of Labor.
- Once approved, the documents are sent to the Office Francais de l’Immigration et de l’Integration (OFII).
- After OFII approves the contract, it will be forwarded to the French embassy in your local country.
- You will then proceed to your local French embassy to apply for your work visa.
- On arrival in France, you have to register with the OFII.
**Note: that you can begin the visa application process no earlier than three months before you arrive in France.
The process for applying for a visa for business creators, tech founders, and investors is quite alike, except for a few differing prerequisites.
Prerequisites for Tech Visa – Founder:
- Be selected by one of the French Tech Visa partner incubators and accelerators.
- Get your project validated by the Directorate General for Enterprise (DGE) and receive an official letter of acknowledgment.
- Include the acknowledgment letter from the DGE in your application.
Prerequisites for Tech Visa – Investor:
- Send a formal application to La French Tech.
- Once approved, the French Tech Mission will send you an official acceptance letter.
- Include this acceptance letter as a supporting document in your visa application.
- Apply for a Talent Passport long-stay visa at the nearest French consulate to your residence.
- For investors, apply for the Talent Passport marked “Business Investor”
- Wait 10 – 30 days for your visa to be approved.
- Upon arrival in France, head to the local Prefecture of your place of residence to apply for the Talent Passport Residence Permit. It generally takes 1 to 2 months to process.
Other types of visas in France
- French long-stay visa for Volunteer work – Those who want to perform humanitarian work in France should apply for this visa, which lasts for three months to one year.
- French International Organization work visa – This visa is for those who will be officially assigned to an international organization in France.
INS Global in France
If you are considering starting a business or expanding your current operation to France, choosing the right partner could be essential to the success of your business. INS Global is a full-service HR solutions firm which has been in operation for more than 14 years. We have helped hundreds of companies around the world to hire staff and expand their business into new territories. Whether you are looking to employ staff, recruit top local or foreign talent or wish to invoice clients in France, INS Global can provide you with the assistance you need.