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Carte de séjour: Is my work 'genuine and effective' enough for me to stay in France?

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Carte de séjour: Is my work 'genuine and effective' enough for me to stay in France?
What counts as a genuine business? Photo: Depositphotos
12:19 CEST+02:00
As foreigners living in France face the sometimes difficult problem of establishing that they are legally resident, some will need to prove that their work is 'genuine and effective' - but what does this mean? Here's what you need to know.

Britons living in France have a little breathing space before Brexit, thanks to the new deadline of October 31st.

But those here - and those contemplating a move - are being advised to use the time wisely and get their house in order - in other words makes sure they are legal.


Most local authorities, known as préfectures are currently not taking new applications, for cartes de séjour (residency permits), but when they do, Britons will need to have their paperwork ready, and one very important thing is being able to prove legal residency

Contrary to popular belief, this is more than simply proving that you live here and you own your own house or have a carte vitale, and for some categories of people it requires you to prove you have sufficient resources not to be a burden on the French state.

Those working will have to prove that their work is 'genuine and effective' and this can be particularly complicated for people who are self-employed, either running their own business or working as a freelancer or contractor.

So what are the rules for regarding something as "genuine and effective"?

Well there are no rules really, as the French state does not provide a written guide for this and each case is decided on a case-by-case basis by the local préfecture.

But there are some guidelines, some based on European case law, which can be helpful in determining what you should be aiming for in proving that your work is genuine and effective.

Looking across Europe, some countries apply a formal 'genuine and effective' work test to EU nationals who wish to live there, but the criteria wary wildly from place to place.

Currently Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Lichtenstein and the Netherlands require work to be 'genuine and effective' 

But while while some countries definite it on hours worked - in Belgium working for less than 12 hours a week does not constitute genuine work - others look at minimum income requirements - a German court recently ruled that an income of less than 25 percent of the minimum subsistence does not count as genuine work.

Other cases that have come before the European courts have produced rulings indicating that regular work will be favoured over intermittent and that the intention at the outset of the work will be considered - for example if the work was intended to be long term but was terminated by the employer or if the worker became seriously unwell. 

While France does not currently have any rules laid down, it does have several tribunal rulings, which have concluded that the criteria is not based solely on income.

In one case work was deemed to be 'genuine and effective' even though it did not produce an income above the threshold for the in-work benefit RSA and another case suggested that work done for payment in kind (such as accommodation or food) can be counted.

Kalba Meadows from citizens' rights group Remain in France Together said: "We know from experience that different préfectures approach this requirement in different ways, and sometimes from a purely financial point of view - ie how much does this person earn?

"The guidance is clear that an individual study should be undertaken in every application for a carte de séjour where there is some doubt about whether the work is genuine and effective - it is not enough just to look at the income.

"We have also discussed this with the Ministry of the Interior who confirm that this is the approach that should be taken."

Voluntary work, however, can not be counted. 

As ever in France, getting together a dossier of documents will help, and self-employed people should be ready to provide as many documents as possible to prove that their business is a genuine one with regular work, produces an income and is likely to continue earning in the future.

Some of the documents that will help are;

Membership of a professional organisation or trade register

Proof of affiliation to the social security system for self-employed people

Proof of qualifications if needed

Proof of registration with the local Chamber of Commerce

Proof of professional insurance, if required

Any financial information, for example a lease of professional premises, copies of business accounts showing regular transactions, copies of bank statements showing regular income, a business plan.

Citizens rights group Remain in France Together (RIFT) has also produced a guide to applying for a carte de sejour as a self-employed person.





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