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VISAS

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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ENERGY

What households in France can expect in the event of power cuts

The French government continues to insist that power cuts are very unlikely this winter. Nevertheless, there is an emergency plan in place, so here's what it says about power cuts, from length and frequency to warning times.

What households in France can expect in the event of power cuts

Power outages in France during the winter of 2022-2023 are still unlikely, and President Emmanuel Macron has urged people “not to panic.” However, they are still a “real possibility” and if you would like to be prepared for potential power cuts, here is what you should know:

When and how will I know if there’s going to be a power outage?

You can continue scanning the situation using the website and application Ecowatt.

READ MORE: ‘Ecowatt’: How to use France’s new energy forecasting website and app

You will be able to see an ‘energy forecast’ for the following three days – which will put your local area into the category of Green (no strains in the grid), Orange (the grid is strained, consider decreasing energy consumption), or Red (the grid is very strained, power cuts will be inevitable without a decrease in consumption).

If EcoWatt goes red, the first step will be asking businesses to make voluntary decreases, so for example factories could go onto a three-day week.

If this still doesn’t work, then targeted power cuts may be necessary – but these will be limited in time and area and planned in advance.

The government says that power cuts will last for no longer than two hours and will be done on a commune basis – so there will never be a situation where a whole département will be blacked out, far less the entire country.

So how do I know if my area will be affected?

If Ecowatt is red, keep checking it – at 3pm each day it will be updated with any areas that face power cuts the following day.

At 3pm you will be able to see whether your département will be impacted and at 5pm you will be able to check your individual address to see if you are in a ‘load shedding’ zone (délestage in French) – the technical term for a planned outage.

You can set up alerts by SMS and email on both the application and website.

And of course there will be extensive media coverage (including on The Local) of planned cuts. 

How long would the rolling blackout last?

French government authorities have specified that power outages would not occur for more than two hours at a time.

They would occur either in the morning (between the hours of 8am and 1pm) or in the evening between the hours of 6pm and 8pm and would not affect crucial buildings such as hospitals. 

If you are impacted by a power outage on one day, you can rest assured you will not be in a “load shedding area” the following day, power bosses will vary the areas for targeted cuts and no area will have two consecutive days of cuts.

What are the things that might be impacted in the event of a power cut?

There are several every-day items that could be shut off during a power outage that you might need to be aware of; 

READ MORE: OPINION: France faces the real possibility of power cuts this winter and it can’t blame Putin

ATMs and Contactless Payment – If you are in an area that will be impacted by power outages, consider taking out cash the day before. During the power outage, you may not be able to access an ATM or use a credit/ debit card to pay, depending on whether the card reader is fully charged. 

Elevators and digicodes – if you live in an apartment block then both your lift and the electronic door codes will not work. Your building might block access to elevators during the rolling blackout. If you know you will be in an area where power is cut, you might want to consider postponing your heavy shopping trip or furniture delivery to the following day.

Digicodes and access badges also will not work without electricity. However, that does not mean you will be locked out or trapped inside, as the electricity is only used to keep the door locked. 

Shops closed – While supermarkets with generators will be able to remain open, you can expect some smaller shops to be closed during power outages.

Public transport – This will depend on where you live in France, though you can expect some services to be interrupted. Local authorities have been tasked with coming up with their own response plans in the event of power cuts. The French government has asked local authorities to err on the side of caution, in order to avoid the possibility of passengers finding themselves stranded in the middle of a track. As for the Paris Metro system, this will not be affected by power outages. Government spokesperson Olivier Véran told BFMTV on Friday that it runs on “its own electricity network.” You can expect more detailed information in the coming weeks.

Schools – While this has not yet been confirmed, the French government is reportedly working alongside the Ministry of Education to develop plans to close schools in the mornings if the area is to be impacted by rolling blackouts. This would be to protect students and teachers from having to be in the building without access to heating, alarm systems or lighting. Schools would be open again in the afternoons, as power cuts are not set to take place between 1pm and 6pm. 

Phone and internet service – During a power cut, there could be interruptions in telecommunications (both for mobile and landline devices). If you have an emergency, you should still dial 112. As this phone number is accessible regardless of the telephone operating company or line, there is still a chance it will be covered by at least one operator in the area. Call centres for the fire department and the police will continue to function. 

Traffic lights – Like other illuminated traffic signs, these are powered by electricity. It is therefore possible that they will be out of service during power cuts, so consider avoiding driving during a power outage.

Charging devices – If you learn that your area will be impacted by a power outage, consider charging any devices you might need during the day the night before. Keep in mind though that the power cut will only last two hours.

Hot water – If your water is heated electrically, it likely will not be available during a power outage. It would therefore be advised to plan around the two hour power cut for your hot water needs.

Refrigerators and freezers – There is no need to panic here – the power would only be off for two hours, so your food ought to remain protected, as refrigerators can keep cold up to four to six hours after the power shuts off. As for freezers, they can keep their temperature for 24 to 48 hours.

And what won’t be affected?

Priority sites such as hospitals, prisons, police stations, fire stations, critical factories and other emergency services will not experience power cuts.

If your power line also services a priority site, then you will be spared from blackouts. For this reason, people living in urban areas are less likely to be impacted by power cuts than people living in rural areas. As for Paris specifically, the city is so dense and is connected to so many priority sites that only about 20 percent of the Parisian territory could be impacted by power cuts. 

Current estimates show that about 60 percent of the French population could be impacted by power cuts – the remaining 40 percent are either connected to a priority line or are part of the 3,800 “high-risk patients” who are dependent on home medical equipment.

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