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Reader question: How long can I stay in France after losing my job?

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
Reader question: How long can I stay in France after losing my job?
The logo of Pole Emploi "Job center" in the town of Flamanville, northwestern France. (Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

If are a foreigner who has lost their job in France, the first thing you might be worried about is your right to remain in the country. Here is what you should know.

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For foreigners living in France with a residency permit that is explicitly tied to their work status - like the carte de séjour salarié or the talent passport visa for example - the thought being laid off or fired could fuel nightmares. 

Losing a job can be stressful enough, without having to worry about residency status and the possibility of having to move back to one's home-country. 

France is relatively generous in this area - more so than many of its neighbours - but there are some criteria to fulfill.

Type of residency

The first thing to look at is the type of residency permit that you have - losing your job is only a problem is your residency card is specifically tied to your job - for example the carte de séjour salarié or various types of work visa.

If you have a long-term residency card or (for Brits) either the 5-year or the 10-year post-Brexit carte de séjour then losing your job is not a problem (in residency terms, that is, it's never an ideal scenario).

Renewal date

If you do have a residency card that is linked to work, the next thing to look at is the renewal date. 

The general rule of thumb about any kind of status change in France - ie changing from unemployed to employed, married to divorced, student to job-seeker - is that for a short-term residency permit, you only need to change it when it is due for renewal.

Depending on your renewal date, this may give you some breathing space to find a new job.

The Local spoke with immigration attorney, Maître Haywood Wise, in a previous interview, to learn more about changes of status in France.

"If you have a valid titre de séjour, even if your situation changes, you do not have to leave the country immediately", Maître Wise told The Local.

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READ MORE: Reader Question: My status changed, do I need to change my French residency permit?

"First of all, a titre de séjour is a residency permit, irrespective of the type of mention. So you will maintain your residency even if you experience a change of status, as long as the card is valid. Let's say, for example, you have a multi-year card as a spouse of a French citizen, but you are just divorcing and there are another two years left on your card.

"That would not annul or put in jeopardy your current residency permit. If that were to happen, then you should notify the préfecture once you change your address, and at that time, you can notify them of your situation", the attorney explained.

Renewal

When it comes to time to renew, even if you still don't have a job this may not be a problem - provided you are entitled to French unemployment benefits (chômage).

For those whose status has changed from 'employed to unemployed', "the préfecture will be bound to renew your status as long as you have rights to chômage", Maître Wise explained. 

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Unemployment

While it's good news that you can renew your residency card even if you don't have a job, not everyone qualifies for chômage.

To qualify, you must have been employed in France for at least six months out of the last 24 months (or 36 months if you were older than 53 at the end of your last employment contract) - this can be a problem for recent arrivals.

In the majority of cases, you must have involuntarily lost your job - whether your former employer cited personal or economic reasons, or have had a CDD (short term contract) that ended without renewal. If you lost your job because you were licencié due to a fault of your own (fired or sacked), then you can still apply for unemployment benefits in France, according to Pôle Emploi.

There are some exceptions to the requirement where you must have involuntarily lost your job - if you decided to leave but you negotiated a rupture conventionnelle with your former employer or if your leaving is considered 'legitimate' (e.g. following your romantic partner to a new location for professional reasons). You can find the list of 'legitimate' reasons here.

You must also have registered with Pôle Emploi - the French governmental agency that registers unemployed people and helps them with job-searching - within the last 12 months to show you are seeking work. You must also be physically able to work and living in France.

You can find more precise information about your rights to chômage with this simulator by the French government.

Some foreigners can be nervous as registering for French benefits, fearing that it might count against them when it comes to renewing residency - but it's actually an advantage, because being a registered job-seeker keeps you 'in the system' and offers proof that you have previously been employed in France and lost your job through no fault of your own.

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Wise said: "Let's say you have a carte 'salarié' and you have been let go. If you still have unemployment rights for one more year, but your status is about to expire, then the préfecture will renew your permit for that one more year that you have access to unemployment in France".

What if I don't qualify for chômage?

If you don't qualify for chômage then you can still stay in France until your current permit expires, but you may have difficulty when it comes to time to renew if you still don't have a job.

However, it's worth having a look at whether you could qualify on different grounds for another type of permit - for example the vie privée card if you have a spouse or children in France. There's nothing to stop you applying for a different type of card at renewal time, as long as you fit the criteria.

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Work permit

One other thing to bear in mind if you change your job while on a work-related residency permit is the work permit (and this applies both to people who lose their job and then find another one or to people who simply change jobs).

"It is a basic rule that a work authorisation is always required when working in France, and then there are various exceptions to that rule", Wise explained.

Some of these exceptions include residency permits that themselves act as work authorisations - such as the carte de résidence or the vie familliale et privée permit. You can find more information about whether your status requires you to have a work permit or not HERE.

READ MORE: Three things to know about work permits in France

Maître Wise offered a few examples of times you might need a new work permit when changing jobs in France: "If you change employers while under a carte de sejour salarié, then you would need a new work authorisation for the new employer.

"If you came over on a travailleur temporaire status or on a travailleur saisonniere status, then you would need a new work authorisation to change jobs". 

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As for those who fall into the 'talent passport' category, things are more flexible. People in the various talent passport categories typically do not need work permits, but "if you are switching jobs to something that falls outside the initial requirements of your talent passport, you might need a work permit to be issued".

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