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Permits and visas: What are the post-Brexit rules for Brits wanting to work in France?

Following Brexit, British nationals coming to France to do any form of paid work may need a visa and/or a work permit. Here's a guide to who needs visas and permits and what type.

Permits and visas: What are the post-Brexit rules for Brits wanting to work in France?
Business trips to France for Brits now fall under a new set of rules. Photo: AFP

Since the British government's decision to end freedom of movement for its citizens, Britons have been plunged into the world of visas and 90-day limits already familiar to other non-EU citizens such as Americans, Canadians and Australians.

Unlike in previous years, anyone now wanting to move to France will need a visa, but for those who are just visiting visas are generally not required as long as your trip is for less than 90 days.

READ ALSO How the 90-day rule works in France since Brexit

 

However, coming to work in France – even if it's just for a few days or weeks – is not as simple as it once was.

For non-EU citizens intending to do paid work in France there are two things to consider –  work permits and visas. 

Work permits are standard for French companies wishing to employee a non-EU citizen (either on a permanent or short-term basis) and require the company to justify why an EU citizen cannot do the job. Not all types of work require a work permit. It is up to the employer to apply for the work permit.

Visas are applied for by the employee, they vary depending on the type of work and the length of stay, but they all need to be applied for in advance of the trip from your home country. Some visas require an employment contract or proof of work.

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: How to apply for a French visa

 

90-days

The first thing to determine is how long you will be working in France. Any stay for more than 90 days requires a visa, but in good news, France has a visa waiver for UK nationals who are working for less than 90 days.

The 90-day limit applies to the whole of the Schengen zone. For people working on short contracts this will be easy to keep track of, but business travellers doing frequent trips to Europe need to keep a close eye on how long they spend in order to ensure that their total number of days within the Schengen zone does not exceed 90 in every 180. When totting up the days, holidays within the Schengen zone count as well as business trips.

Work permit

Most types of work in France will require a work permit.

There are some exceptions here, however, and they are:

  • work at a sporting, cultural or scientific event
  • work at a seminar or trade show
  • the production and broadcast of cinematographic and audiovisual works (such as musicians putting on concerts)
  • modelling
  • personal service workers and domestic workers working in France during their private employers’ stay in the country.
  • providing an audit or expertise in IT, management, finance, insurance, architecture and engineering, under the terms of a service agreement or intra-company transfer agreement.
  • occasional teaching activities by invited lecturers

Here how it works:

Posted workers and contractors

If you are an employee and your company asks you to complete a one-off mission in France, or you are sub-contracted to work in France, the company must obtain a work permit for you.

People who won't need a work permit are those providing an audit or expertise in the fields of IT, management, finance, insurance, architecture or engineering, or teaching as a salaried guest teacher. This doesn't cover everybody working in those sectors – you need to demonstrate that you are providing some form of expertise. 

If your work period is for less than 90 days, you will not need a visa.

Short-term work 

If you are doing any work in France, either for a French or non-French company, on a short term contract you employer will need to obtain a work permit, unless you fall into one of the exempt categories listed above.

As with posted workers and contractors, you will only need a visa if you will be working for more than 90 days.

Business trips/conferences

Travel for a seminar or trade show is one of the categories that is exempt from work permit requirements.

You will not need a visa if you are spending less than 90 days working, but business travellers who make frequent trips need to be careful to ensure that, in total, they are not spending more than 90 days out of every 180 within the Schengen zone. Holidays also count towards this total.

Musicians, artists and athletes

Sporting, cultural of scientific events and production of cinematic or audiovisual works are exempt from work permit requirements.

If you are spending less than 90 days you will not need a visa.

Like business travellers, musicians or artists who travel a lot for work need to be careful that they aren't exceeding the 90-day total in the Schengen zone. They also need to be aware that the requirements for all countries within the EU are now different, so a pan-European tour will involve checking every country's requirements.

Seasonal workers

Seasonal work such as grape-picking or working the ski season is popular with young people and France has a travailleur saisonnier (seasonal worker) visa specifically for this purpose, which allows six months work in every 12 – and is therefore a good option for people wanting to do more than 90 days at a time.

However this visa is linked to work so you will need to have a job offer before getting the visa, instead of turning up and then finding work. You can have more than one employer, but each employer must apply for a work permit.

Au-pair

Spending time working as an au pair is a popular option for young people as you can combine learning/perfecting French with paid work. 

Many non-EU citizens such as Americans use this route to come to France and there is a specific au pair visa, as most people come for more than 90 days.

READ ALSO How to become an au pair in France (and the things you should know in advance)

 

 

 

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POLITICS

Biden hosts Macron for banquet as French president blasts ‘aggressive’ US subsidies

France's Emmanuel Macron was set to be hosted by President Joe Biden at the White House Thursday for a state visit mixing sumptuous ceremonies with hard-edged talks on transatlantic trade and how to manage a rising China.

Biden hosts Macron for banquet as French president blasts 'aggressive' US subsidies

A military honor guard was due to be standing ready at the White House to welcome the French leader, accompanied by his wife, Brigitte, before the two presidents meet in the Oval Office for what are expected to be substantial discussions as they seek to defuse tensions over what Macron has described as “aggressive” subsidies for US manufacturers.

They were to give a joint press conference ahead of winding up the day with a lavish dinner featuring French favorites of wine and cheese — but in both cases American-made.

The two governments have emphasized their historic links — France is the United States’ oldest ally — as well as their close partnership in the Western alliance confronting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

However, Macron made clear, in unusually blunt language, that he is not just in Washington to discuss the easy parts of the relationship.

At a lunch with lawmakers and business leaders Wednesday, he lashed out at Biden’s signature policy called the Inflation Reduction Act, which is set to pour billions of dollars into environmentally friendly industries, with strong backing for US-based manufacturers.

The White House touts the IRA legislation as a groundbreaking effort to reignite US manufacturing and promote renewable technologies. European Union governments are crying foul, threatening to launch a trade war by subsidizing their own green economy sector.

“This is super aggressive for our business people,” Macron said, warning that what he sees as unfair US practices will “kill” European jobs.

“The consequence of the IRA is that you will perhaps fix your issue but you will increase my problem. I’m sorry to be so straightforward,” Macron said.

The White House responded by insisting that the state visit is about the two presidents’ “warm relationship.”

US advances in the clean energy economy will help Europeans too, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. The IRA “presents significant opportunities for European firms as well as benefits to EU energy security. This is not a zero-sum game.”

In a speech later at the French embassy, Macron said the subsidies could become a real sticking point in US relations with Europe.

While voicing support for the environmental goals of the IRA, Macron said “these are choices that will split the West,” even as he agreed that ties remained solid for now.

On Wednesday evening, he and his wife joined Biden and First Lady Jill Biden for dinner in an Italian restaurant in Washington for a moment that was both private and “political,” according to an adviser to the Elysee, ahead of Thursday’s official events.

Also on Wednesday, Macron joined Vice President Kamala Harris at NASA headquarters in Washington to discuss cooperation in space — and to propose putting the first Frenchman on the Moon.

Menu and music

Macron’s two busy days in Washington will culminate Thursday with the first formal state dinner of Biden’s presidency — the grand tradition having been shelved due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Grammy-award-winning American musician Jon Batiste will perform at the banquet, which the White House said will kick off with butter-poached Maine lobster, paired with caviar, delicata squash raviolo and tarragon sauce.

The main course features beef and triple-cooked butter potatoes, before leading to the cheese course of award-winning US brands, and finally orange chiffon cake, roasted pears with citrus sauce and creme fraiche ice cream.

Washing all that down will be three different wines — all from US vineyards.

China high on agenda

Trade tensions, however, are only part of the uncomfortable flip side to the red carpet occasion.

Another gripe in Europe is the high cost of US liquid natural gas exports — which have surged to help compensate for canceled Russian deliveries.

There is also divergence on how to deal with the rise of superpower China. The question — with Washington pursuing a more hawkish tone and EU powers trying to find a middle ground — is unlikely to see much progress.

“Europe has since 2018 its own, unique strategy for relations with China,” tweeted French embassy spokesman Pascal Confavreux in Washington.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said China will be “very high on the agenda” this week but stressed that both countries share a broad approach.

“We believe that not only France, but every other member of the G7 — frankly, our NATO allies too — see the threats and challenges posed by China in the same way.”

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