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Reader question: Does France do ‘golden visas’?

Many countries have a 'golden visa' option for people with a bit of money to sort out their residency status, but what is the situation in France?

Reader question: Does France do 'golden visas'?
Photo: Lionel Bonaventure / AFP)

Question: Looking at the different French visas I don’t see the option, as some countries have, to get a visa through investment in a business or property – does this exist in France?

A so-called ‘Golden Visa’ is a programme for wealthy foreign nationals who want to acquire residency in a certain country by investing a substantial amount of money, or by purchasing a property.

In February, the European Parliament called for the phasing out of citizenship by investment programmes operated by some EU countries and for EU-wide regulation on the ‘golden visas’ offered to wealthy individuals. 

According to SchengenVisaInfo.com, 11 EU countries offer Golden Visas – which allow high-wealth individuals the right to stay in a country for an extended period, upon the investment of several hundred thousand euros. It’s sometimes regarded as a stepping stone to full citizenship.

France is not one of them. 

Instead, it 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 – known as a passeport talent (talent passport).

This is 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.

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

Individuals 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.

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

There’s a lot of paperwork, and the requirements for most categories are strict.

For example, people applying under the investor category must take an active role in the business in which they are investing, so it’s more involved than simply stumping up a few hundred thousand euro, or – as is possible in some EU countries – buying an expensive property.

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.

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

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: How to apply for a visa to France

The above all relates to the right to live in France, but doesn’t make you a French citizen.

The process for taking French citizenship is based on either being born in France, living here for a certain period of time or being married to a French national. Having lots of money makes no difference to your citizenship application, although you will be able to afford to hire someone to help you with the paperwork.

READ ALSO Am I eligible for citizenship in France?

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