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IMMIGRATION

Talent passport: The little-known French visa that could make moving to France a lot easier

In its ongoing quest to attract new talent, France has expanded the categories of people who are eligible for its 'talent passport' visa and moved the process online. Here's what you need to know.

Talent passport: The little-known French visa that could make moving to France a lot easier
The French government is keen to attract talent from around the world. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP

Moving to France from a non-EU country (which now includes the UK) is a matter of visas and paperwork, but many people might be surprised to find that they are eligible straight away for a four-year visa that also allows them to being family members with them.

And on May 25th the entire process moved online making it much more user-friendly.

READ ALSO The post-Brexit visa requirements for Brits in France

What’s a passeport talent?

The passeport talent (talent passport) offers a four-year work visa to people who can demonstrate certain business, creative or academic skills, or who have a provable reputation in their field – for example, scientific, literary, artistic, intellectual, educational, or sporting. 

While businesses can use the passeport talent to bring non-EU employees to France, the programme does not require a holder to have a job waiting for them. 

Holders can, for example, look for work or set up their own business after they arrive in the country. It also allows the holder’s immediate family to live in France.

Who’s eligible?

Importantly, it’s not limited to research scientists or mega-rich business leaders. Equally, it must be noted, it’s not a free-for-all. There are several categories, and some are harder to qualify for than others.

You can be a qualified or highly qualified paid employee of:

– a ‘young innovative company’

– a company in the same group as the company you currently work for

– a public or private research institute or higher education organisation

OR

A self-employed person or engaged in a liberal profession planning to:

– create a business or take one over

– make a direct economic investment

– engage in an innovative economic project recognised by a public body

– take up a corporate appointment in a French company

The list of occupations classed as a ‘liberal profession’ is quite long and includes lawyers, physiotherapists, doctors, writers, editors, sports professionals – find the full list here.

OR

Are able to prove your national or international reputation and plan to:

– engage in an activity in France linked to your national or international reputation

OR

A performer or have created a literary or artistic work and:

– plan to come to France for employment or self-employment

Is the scheme any good?

It is. Fiona Mougenot, managing director of immigration consultancy Expat Partners believes it is one of the best around.

“Talent attraction and retention is one of the hardest things for any country. Everyone’s trying to attract talent,” she said.

“France has the most wonderful immigration category – this passeport talent category. It’s very unique what they have set up. In my opinion it’s one of the best visa methods for attracting talent. 

“When you see that young students who have finished a Masters degree here – or a qualification at that level – can remain in France and could get a talent passport, that’s really saying France doesn’t just want to offer an education, it’s also offering the possibility for that person to stay … and France retains the talent.

“France is genuinely searching for talent.”

The current government is keen to attract foreign talent and investment and president Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly stated his ambition to wake up France’s economy, bring in international and talent and make France the ‘start-up nation’.

As Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness Franck Riester said in a Twitter thread in 2020: “The passeport talent offers the possibility for investors, entrepreneurs, and foreign executives to settle and work in France with their families. 

“It is to encourage talents from all over the world to choose our country to develop growth and employment.”

 

There must be a catch…

Not really. There’s a lot of paperwork, and the requirements for most categories are strict.

For example, people applying under the investor category cannot simply stump up €300,000, or buy an apartment in Paris and expect to be handed a passeport talent, Mougenot said. They must take an active role in the business in which they are investing.

Meanwhile, those planning on setting up a new business must invest a minimum of €30,000 in it, and must hold a degree at least equivalent to a master’s degree or be able to prove a minimum five years of professional experience at a comparable level.

Financial records and business plans will be required as part of the application process. And applicants must be able to demonstrate that they would not be an immediate drain on the state – so there’s no applying for one and then promptly trying to claim French unemployment benefits.

But in 2019, 37,010 passeports talent were issued or renewed, so clearly plenty of people managed to fit into those categories.

For more information and to start the application process, click HERE

If you don’t fit into any of those categories, there are plenty of other visa types, find out more in our visa guide HERE.

Member comments

  1. I’m here on a talent passport! One-year visa in 2019, another one-year visa in 2020, to attend an arts residence. As a self-employed/freelancer, though, I had to prove I had enough money in the bank saved up to support myself and my family. I wonder if you apply for a four-year visa, do you have to document four years worth of funds available? Our savings have run out and we’re headed back to Canada soon, but I’d definitely do it again if I could.

  2. I completed all the necessary biz creation paperwork, funded a capital account in France, obtained insurance etc etc. Three months after submitting my very complete talent visa application, the consulate still has my passport (and those of my family). No updates other than “it is still in process”… It doesn’t seem that my application is actually being reviewed. I have made a substantial monetary investment and would be contributing to the French economy, so I am surprised to see the contrast between the promotion of the talent visa and my own experience! I have no option for communication / feedback.

  3. I have found that many of the incubator sites have non-functional contact pages. I have called by telephone and received an email address but there is no answer. ([email protected])
    Since the first step in the process is to be admitted into one of the regional organizations, I am baffled by the dysfunction.
    Peter C Droste
    [email protected]

  4. I have found that many of the incubator sites have non-functional contact pages. I have called by telephone and received an email address but there is no answer. ([email protected])
    Since the first step in the process is to be admitted into one of the regional organizations, I am baffled by the dysfunction.
    Peter C Droste
    [email protected]

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For members

LIVING IN FRANCE

MAP: The 20 cheapest French towns and cities to live in

The cost of living is a hot topic in France and across Europe right now - so where are the cheapest places to live?

MAP: The 20 cheapest French towns and cities to live in

At a time when purchasing power has never been so central to French people’s concerns, French daily Le Parisien has compiled a list of towns and cities where your money will go the furthest.

In order to produce this ranking, Le Parisien compiled the average salary in each location and then looked at the price of the average supermarket shop, the cost of transport (fuel as well as public transport), property prices (to buy or rent), property tax rates and the cost of a cinema ticket. 

READ ALSO Food, fuel and transport: Which prices will rise in France in 2023?

And it turns out smaller is better.

Of the 96 towns and cities tested, Niort, in the département of Deux-Sèvres in south west France (population around 60,000) came top,

Laval, in Mayenne (population around 50,000) was third; Saint-Brieuc, in the Brittany département of Côtes-d’Armor (population around 45,000), was 8th, and Rodez, down in the southern département of Aveyron (pop: c 25,000) was 10th.

The 20 most wallet-friendly towns in France are:

  1. Niort
  2. Châteauroux
  3. Laval
  4. Nevers
  5. Belfort
  6. Chaumont
  7. Épinal
  8. Saint-Brieuc
  9. Saint-Étienne
  10. Rodez
  11. Châlons-en-Champagne
  12. Quimper
  13. Arras
  14. Foix
  15. Poitiers
  16. Le Mans
  17. Colmar
  18. Montauban
  19. Bourg-en-Bresse
  20. Nantes

READ ALSO The 20 small towns most popular with house-hunters in France

Niort gains, the study found, in part because it has offered free local public transport since 2017 - a policy that other towns that rank well also implement, including second-placed Châteauroux (Indre), Bourg-en-Bresse (Ain, 24th) and Gap (Hautes-Alpes, 63rd).

For various reasons, including infrastructure, offering free public transport that meets higher levels of demand in larger cities is unviable, the report said. 

In fact, France’s larger cities are noticeably low in Le Parisien’s rankings. Lyon stumbled on to the list in 58th, Paris in 77th, Marseille 84th, and Montpellier 90th. Nantes, coming in 20th, is the only ‘large city’ representative in the top 20.

READ ALSO Wild boar, fast internet and kindly neighbours – why small-town France has the best of all worlds

The report stated that, despite salaries being little higher than average in larger conurbations, people also pay more for shopping, public transport, movie tickets, and housing.

The survey found that, on the whole, your euro goes further in the west of the country - where supermarkets are cheaper, and towns aren’t too congested, while the cost of a tank of fuel is lower, as are - researchers discovered - the more abstract costs, such as insurance, for the same level of service as elsewhere.

READ ALSO OPINION: An inflation ‘tsunami’ is about to hit France

Eastern France, the study found, benefited from relatively cheap property prices - offering more bang for a house-buying buck than the expensive ‘coastal bounce’-affected south or the Ile-de-France region, which orbits the cost-of-living singularity that is Paris.

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