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WORK PERMITS

Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in France

French bureaucracy is well-known for being complicated for foreigners to navigate but there are certain official government websites that are designed to help you if you are working or hiring in France.

Six official websites to know if you're planning to work in France
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

When it comes to working in France, there are a whole host of things to think about…visas, work permits, different types of employment contracts.

Now, “Welcome to France,” the French government website dedicated to helping foreign workers ‘settle in,’ has updated its interface to answer pretty much all of your questions.

But if it does not suffice, here are the other five websites you need to know for being (or hiring) foreign workers in France:

WelcomeToFrance.com

Screenshot of the website for Welcome to France
 

First things first, when you open this website, you’ll notice that you can click to change the settings to English (found in the upper-right hand corner) – a very useful tool that not every French government website offers.

Next, you’ll be offered several links to learn about the various French regions, how the country is “one of the world’s fastest growing start-up hubs,’ key Covid information, and informational videos. But the most useful link is perhaps the “My Procedures” tab which allows you to fill out a quick survey about your situation – your country of origin, how long you plan to be in France, and what you’ll be doing in France (working, starting a business, research, etc). Based on your responses, you’ll be provided with a comprehensive, step-by-step guide for what to do six months before moving, at the time of moving, and in the immediate year after moving, even including guides for exchanging your driver’s license and filing your taxes. 

 
 
The “Our Rubrics” side of the website will offer you with five sub-themes: Visas, Employment Regulations, Social Protection, Taxation, and Day-to-Day Life. As the aforementioned survey might apply more to those planning a move to France rather than those already here (though, the information is still useful for any foreign worker in France), these “rubrics” are particularly geared toward current workers or business owners in France. For instance, if you click the “Employment Regulations” tab, you’ll be offered a range of documents regarding different types of work contracts, regulations for dismissal or resignation, the extensive rules companies must abide by for recruiting new employees. Beware that sometimes the links to certain rules or explanations will take you to other government websites that are exclusively in French, however.
 
While on this website, you might notice some links taking you to the Business France website, which is more so geared toward those who are recruiting foreign hires or aiming to start a business in France.
 
In many ways, the website gears itself toward tech or ‘talent’ employees, as it is part of Business France’s goal to attract more investment into the country. However, if this status does not apply to you, fear not – the foreigner oriented rubrics are useful to everyone (take for example: “Opening a Personal Bank Account“).
 

France-visas.gouv.fr/en/web/france-visas/

This is the French government’s visa portal website. It is also mostly available in English, and allows you to follow the “Visa Wizard” survey to determine if you need a visa. You can also start, submit, and track your visa application on this website. On this website, you can find explanations of the different types of visas and residency permits, as well as the list of all the supporting documents you will need for your application.  

The “visa wizard” segment of the France-visas website

Service-public.fr/

This website is primarily in French, because it is not geared specifically to foreigners. It is the overarching ‘public services’ website in France, with plenty of information specific French nationals, like how to obtain a passport. It can also be very useful for foreign workers because, like the Welcome to France site, it has a dedicated category to work (including information about contracts, retirement, and job trial periods). The section “Étranger” is meant for foreigners living in France. This is where you will find information for residence permits, travel documents, and applying for French nationality. You should note that this website differs from France-visas.gouv.fr because it focuses more so on cartes de séjour residency permits rather than visas.

Ofii.fr/en

This is the website for the French Office for Immigration and Integration. You can find a lot of similar information to what has been outlined above on this site, like what to do if you are looking to recruit a young foreign worker, or how to bring your immediate family members to France if you are living and working here. Ultimately, this website is most useful for information regarding completing your mandatory medical visit as long-stay visa holder. However, if you switch onto a “vie privée et familiale” permit, you may need to take integration steps, such as signing the “Republican Integration Contract,” along with language and civics trainings. 

Administration-etrangers-en-france.interieur.gouv.fr/

Finally, this is the website you must use to validate your visa or carte de séjour. In its latest update, you can also update your address here, if you have recently moved. You can even start your citizenship process on this website.

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For members

VISAS

What is the EU’s ‘single permit’ for third-country nationals and can I get one?

In 2020, 2.7 million non-EU citizens were issued a so-called "single permit" to both reside and work in the EU. But what is the single permit, how does it work and what could change in the future?

What is the EU's 'single permit' for third-country nationals and can I get one?

Among the recent proposals made by the European Commission to simplify the procedures for the entry and residence of non-EU nationals in the European Union, there is the reform of the ‘single permit’.

In 2020, 2.7 million non-EU citizens were issued a ‘single permit’ to both reside and work in the EU, according to the European statistics agency Eurostat. Five countries together issued 75% of the total, with France topping the list (940,000 permits issued), followed by Italy (345,000), Germany (302,000), Spain (275,000) and Portugal (170,000).

Seven in 10 single permits were granted for family and employment reasons (34 and 36 percent respectively) and just less than 10 percent for education purposes.

But what is this permit and how does it work?

What is the EU single permit?

The EU single permit is an administrative act that grants non-EU citizens both a work and residence permit for an EU member state with a single application.

It was designed to simplify access for people moving to the EU for work. It also aims to ensure that permit holders are treated equally to the citizens of the country where they live when it comes to working conditions, education and training, recognition of qualifications, freedom of association, tax benefits, access to goods and services, including housing and advice services.

Equal conditions also concern social security, including the portability of pension benefits. This means that non-EU citizens or their survivors who reside in a non-EU country and derive rights from single permit holders are entitled to receive pensions for old age, invalidity and death in the same way as EU citizens.

The single permit directive applies in 25 of the 27 EU countries, as Ireland and Denmark have opted out of all EU laws affecting ‘third country nationals’.

Who can apply for a single permit?

The directive covers non-EU nationals who apply to reside in an EU country for work or who are already resident in the EU for other purposes but have the right to access the labour market (for instance, students or family members of a citizen of the country of application).

As a general rule, these rules do not apply to long-term residents or non-EU family members of EU citizens who exercise the free movement rights or have free movement rights in the EU under separate laws, as their rights are already covered by separate laws.

It also does not apply to posted workers, seasonal workers, intra-corporate transferees, beneficiaries of temporary protection, refugees, self-employed workers and seafarers or people working on board of EU ships, as they are not considered part of the labour market of the EU country where they are based.

Each country can determine whether the application should be made by the non-EU national or the employer or either of them.

Applications from the individual are required for the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden. For Bulgaria and Italy it is the employer who has to apply, while applications are accepted from either the recipient or the employer for Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain.

How long does it take to process the application?

The EU directive says the competent authority must decide on the application within 4 months from the date it was lodged. Only in exceptional circumstances the deadline can be longer.

Where no decision is taken within the time limit, national law determines the outcome. In some EU countries (including France, Italy and Spain) this is a tacit rejection while in others it is a tacit approval.

If the application is incomplete, the authority should notify the applicant in writing specifying which additional information is needed, and the time count should be suspended until these are received.

In case of rejection, the authority must provide the reasons and there is a possibility to appeal.

How does it work in practice?

Although the intention of the directive was to simplify the procedure and guarantee more rights, things always get complicated when it’s 25 countries turning rules into reality.

A 2019 report of the European Commission on how this law was working in practice showed that the directive “failed to address some of the issues it proposed to solve”.

The Commission had received several complaints and launched legal action against some member states.

Complaints concerned in particular excessive processing times by the relevant authorities, too high fees, problems with the recognition of qualifications and the lack of equal treatment in several areas, especially social security.

Only 13 countries allowed the transfer of pensions to non-EU countries. In France, invalidity and death pensions are not exportable to non-EU states. Problems were identified also in Bulgaria, the Netherlands and Slovenia.

In Italy single permit holders were excluded from certain types of family benefits and it was the EU Court of Justice that ruled, in September 2021, that single permit holders are entitled to a childbirth and maternity allowances as provided by Italian laws. The EU Court also rules that Italy and the Netherlands were charging too high fees.

Sweden restricts social security benefits for people living in the country for less than one year and takes too long to process single permit applications, according to the report.

Generally the report found that authorities were not providing sufficient information to the pubic about the permit and associated rights.

What will change?

As part of a package of measures to make working and moving in the EU country easier for non-EU nationals announced at the end of April, the European Commission has proposed some changes to improve the situation.

The Commission has suggested shortening the deadline for member states to issue a decision ensuring that the 4 month limit covers the issuing of visas and the labour market test (to prove there are no suitable candidates in the local market).

Under the proposal, fees should be proportionate and candidates should be able to submit the application both in the member state of destination and from a third country.

In addition, permit holders should be able to change employer during the permit’s validity, and the permit should not be withdrawn in case of unemployment for at least 3 months. These measures should reduce vulnerability to labour exploitation, the Commission says.

The Commission also suggests member states should introduce penalties against employers who do no respect equality principles especially with regard to working conditions, freedom of association and affiliation and access to social security benefits.

These proposals have to be approved by the European Parliament and Council and can be modified before becoming law.

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