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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

‘Be ready to wait’: Your tips for getting a French visa post-Brexit

Now that Britain is out of the EU, just how much harder is the process of moving to France from the UK after Brexit? British readers share their experiences of applying for visas as 'third country nationals’.

'Be ready to wait': Your tips for getting a French visa post-Brexit

Whether you’re moving to France to live, or you’re a second-home owner wanting to spend more than 90 days out of every 180 in France, if you’re British you will now need a visa.

You can find more on how to apply for a visa, and how to understand what type of visa you need, in our visa section HERE.

But how these systems work in practice is not always the same as the theory.

To learn more about the process of getting a visa as a UK national, The Local asked British readers for their experiences of going through the system.

The consensus among respondents was that the whole thing was bureaucratic, though there were notable differences in experiences that ranged from the “easy” to the “complicated” and “time-consuming”, while the advice for future applicants was, routinely, have all your paperwork ready – and be prepared for a lengthy wait at one of the UK’s TLS centres

Appointments

Like most visas, French visas for UK nationals must be applied for before you leave home. You can find a full explanation of the process here, but the basic outline is that you apply for the visa online, and then have an in-person appointment in the UK in order to present your paperwork. 

Sue Clarke told us: “As long as you get all your paperwork together correctly and in the right order, the time it takes to receive your passport back with the visa in it once TLS has sent it off is only a few days.

“TLS – the centre which works on behalf of the French Embassy to collate your application – is so very busy,” she added. “That part of the process took hours even when you have an appointment.”

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: What type of French visa do you need?

“The visa process itself was fairly well run, and a decision for the initial visa was quick,” wrote Ian Sheppard, who successfully applied for a visa in July 2022. 

“Although getting the follow up residence permit was a pain, [and] took longer than expected, and there was little to no communication with severely limited ways to get in touch about the application.”

Sheppard thought that, biometrics apart, the process could have taken place online, and wondered whether the follow-up residence permit application could be more closely linked to the initial visa application, “rather than effectively submitting the same application twice”.

Georgina Ann Jolliffe described the process as “stressful”. 

“A lot of the initial stage was unclear and I needed a lot of reassurance about the visa trumping the Schengen 90 days. (The Local helped on that one),” she wrote. 

“[The] lack of ready communication was very stressful. It could be slicker, however staff at Manchester TLS were excellent.”

Jacqueline Maudslay, meanwhile, described the process as “complicated”, saying: “The waiting times for the appointment with the handling agent (TLS in the UK) are long and difficult to book online. We applied for a long-stay visa and were given a short-stay visa, with no reasoning and no option of talking to anyone.  

“We had met every criteria for the long-stay visa. There needs to be a contact link with the French Consular website directly for discussing visa applications.”

Handling agent TLS’s website – the first port of call for applicants from the UK – was a target for criticism.

“The TLS system is probably the most user unfriendly system I have ever used,” wrote Susan Kirby. “It throws up errors for no legitimate reason and even changes data you have keyed in. Dates are in American format so you have to be very careful and it can be very difficult to edit.”

Bea Addison, who applied for a visa in September 2021 with a view to retiring in France, agreed that it was complicated and believes the French system is chaotic and badly organised compared to other countries. “Even staff in the French Embassy in London were not knowledgeable of the process and documentation,” she wrote.

“The renewal in France was applied for in July 2022 … we have received an attestation that we will be granted renewal visas, which expired in October 2022, but we have not yet received a date to attend the préfecture due to a backlog.

Second-home owners

Many of our survey respondents were not moving to France, but were instead second-home owners who did not want to be constrained by the 90-day rule.

They have the option of remaining residents of the UK and applying for a short-stay French visitor visa – which must be renewed every year.

Second-home owner Peter Green told us: “Our appointment with TLS was delayed by two and a half hours and the whole experience was chaotic.

“We now have to go through exactly the same process again to get a visa for 2023. With second-home owners there should be a fast track that just involves proving financial viability, nothing else has changed. The system needs to be fully computerised.”

Second-home owner Alan Cranston told us his application met with no problems, but came with “unwanted cost and effort”. 

“Our six-month visa was for our first stint at our house in France in the spring, and that then overlapped our second visit in the autumn which was under Schengen. How that is handled seems to be a muddle (we did not leave the country for a day at the end of the six months, as some advise),” he said. 

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