France launches online portal for work permits for foreign workers

The French government has announced the launch of an online application service for work permits, in an attempt to ease the process for non-EU nationals hoping to get work in France.

France launches online portal for work permits for foreign workers
Citizens of non-EU countries need work permits for most jobs in France. Photo: Christophe Archambault/AFP

An employer in France who wishes to hire a non-EU national – which now includes Brits as well as Americans, Canadians, Australians etc – has to apply for an autorisation de travail (work permit) for certain types of work.

This is in addition to the employee securing a work visa or residence permit and has traditionally put non-EU workers at a disadvantage, since employers often prefer to avoid the unwieldy bureaucratic procedure if there is an equally qualified EU candidate for the role.

Citizens of EU or Schengen zone countries do not need work permits to take up employment in France.

Now, however the process has become a little more straightforward for employers with the launch of an online portal for work permit applications.

It follows several other procedures moving online including residency cards for certain groups and driving licence swaps as France begins dragging its cumbersome bureaucratic procedures into the digital age.

Announcing the new platform, the Interior Ministry said it was “a new stage in the modernisation process for foreign nationals”.

The ministry added: “Applications will be examined by six inter-regional platforms created when this task was transferred to the Ministry of the Interior as part of the reform of the regional organisation of the State. A seventh national platform is dedicated to processing applications for seasonal workers.

“The préfectures remain responsible for issuing residence permits to the foreign employees concerned.”

Employers can access the new platform HERE from April 6th, 2021.

Who needs a work permit?

Work permits are needed for both permanent and temporary contracts for anyone who does not hold the passport of an EU or Schengen zone nation.

Permits are also required for seasonal work such as people working the ski season, in holidays camps or harvesting, as well as for students who wish to work during their studies.

READ ALSO What are the rules on short-term and seasonal work in France?

If you have more than one employer, each employer needs to apply for a work permit.

However there are some exemptions to the permit requirement. 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

Work permits are different to visas, so even if you are covered by a visa waiver – nationals of many countries including the UK do not need a visa if they are working in the EU for less than 90 days in every 180 – you will still need a work permit if you don’t qualify for one of the exempt sectors listed above.

READ ALSO Work permits and visas – what are the post-Brexit rules for working in France?

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