step by step - impatriation


In order to obtain the immigration papers, first steps have to be undertaken out of the office, as soon as the choice of the employee has been carried out and the amendment of the employment contract has been signed between the company and the employee.

Immigration rules in the frame of a professional activity in France are different regarding on the employee nationality, the duration of the mission and the type of task or activity in France, therefor we will make a summary of the main rules.

The right of residence in France (the EEA and Swiss Confederation)

As regards right of residence, you must refer to European law and not to French law.

Citizens of the European Union, the European Economic Area or the Swiss Confederation are exempted from work and residence permit (except nationals of the new entrants) given they enjoy freedom of movement, residence and access to the labour market in France. They may exercise in any field or be self-employed in the same conditions as French citizens (excepted certain public jobs or certain regulated professions).

They do not need to hold a residence permit, but must nevertheless carry an identity card or a valid passport.
Visa and residence permit for third-country nationals
The right of entry (visa) : The admission fee in France of third-country nationals is conditional on obtaining a visa. There are many types of visas, and many modalities of visa procedures.  Indeed, time requirement to obtain a French visa depends on a certain number of factors, such as:

- Nationality ;
- The activity or non activity exercised in France ;
- The length of stay in France.

You must contact the French embassy or consulate of the country of his usual residence.

Given that time to French visa requirements can be variable, we recommend enquiring at least three months prior to arrival.

The residence card : Once the conditions of the arrival in France of a foreign employee have been analyzed (see section above concerning the visa), it is necessary for the individual to get a residence title (or "card") for any time period spent in France lasting more than three months.

Tourist cards are available under various forms :

- A temporary residence permit. It is valid for a maximum period of one year. The foreigner who stays under cover of a temporary residence permit may request the issuance of a resident card.
- A resident card. It is valid for ten years. It is automatically renewable.
- A resident permit "skills and talents". It is valid for three-years. The foreigner who stays under cover of a resident permit "skills and talents" may also request the issuance of a residence card under certain conditions.

Except in some cases expressly provided by law or regulation, the employee not having at his disposal one of the residence permits cannot take up employment even if he holds a receipt from an application regarding the issuance or renewal of a residence permit or a temporary residence permit authorizing the presence of the foreigner in France.

However, the employee may continue to pursue his professional activities in France (and keep all of his social rights), even if his card or residence permit has expired over one year, provided that the application for renewal is made within three months after the expiration date.

The applicant must submit to the prefecture or sub-prefecture of his place of residence and, in Paris, the police headquarters to obtain his residence permit and that, at the latest within two months of his entry in France. You will find on this link the list of DDTEFP (regional departments of work) in France.

There are simplified procedures for national family members of the European Union, as well as for family members whose spouse is holder of a long-term stay title in another European country and have obtained a residence permit in France.

For further information, you will find an article on our Blog detailing the various residence cards types.

Finally, given the difficulties in obtaining these cards and also the short deadlines, we strongly recommend starting the process several months before arriving in France. Making use of a relocation agency or a specialized agency in immigration may be necessary because they have many contacts within the authorities concerned.
The work permit
Any employer seeking to employ a foreign worker in France must ensure that the latter holds a French work permit.

There are different types of work permits and different procedures in order to obtaining them, related to different types of visas or residence permits requested. Indeed, some visas and residence permits are worth work permits.

You will find below the list of visas to work in France for a maximum period of one year (without obtaining an additional work permit) :

- Student Visa limited up to 60% of the annual working time ;  
- Employee visa ;
- Temporary workers visa ;
- Family and private life visa granted to the spouses of French nationals.

You will find below the list of residence permits (non-exhaustive) having value a work permit value :

- The residence permit "skills and talent", in the framework of the project defined by the foreigner ;
- The temporary residence permit "scientific" ;
- The temporary residence permit "employee" ;
- The temporary residence permit "seasonal" ;
- The temporary residence permit "temporary" ;
- The temporary residence card "on mission" ;
- The temporary residence permit "private and family life" with the exception of long-term European Community family resident members.

Certain obligations are common for obtaining these visas or residence permits.

Here below some of these obligations (non-exhaustive) :

- Knowing French language or committing to learn it within two years after settlement in France ;
- Having sufficient resources ;
- Having a social coverage (health insurance, unemployment, etc) ;
- Undergoing a medical examination (not to be mistaken with the compulsory labour medical check up for all French employees).

It is important to recall that immigration affects labour legal issues, social security and payroll. This is why you must first analyse all these subjects before you apply for visas or work permits for employees you want to expatriate in France.

The family move to France

To be accepted in France, family members must have an entry visa and come to France within three months of the visa obtention.

The administration accepts simplified procedures for family members of foreign employees coming to work in France as expatriates.

All situations being different according to each individual and family situation, we suggest you use an expert in the area. Most relocation agencies offer immigration services. This is an extremely sensitive subject, involving employer’s penal and financial responsibility. Regarding the employee and his family, the risk is to be forced to go back to the home country.