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Visas For Members

Is there a minimum salary for a French work permit?

Genevieve Mansfield
Genevieve Mansfield - [email protected]
Is there a minimum salary for a French work permit?
Employees work with foreigners at the Paris Préfecture in 2007 (Photo by THOMAS COEX / AFP)

If you are looking to come work in France, you might be wondering whether you should seek out jobs of a certain salary to qualify for a work permit. Here is how the system functions in France and what to expect:

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Each country has a different approach to work permits, even members of the European Union. Recently, Sweden announced it would be doubling the required salary to be eligible for a work permit, leaving thousands of non-EU residents with their futures upended.

In France, however, you usually won't need a high salary.

Who needs a work permit?

Many foreigners living in France have a residency permit that in itself gives the right to work, with no need for a separate work permit.

For instance - people with the 'family and private life' residency permit status have the automatic right to work included as part of their titre de séjour, so they do not need a separate work permit document.

Brits who are beneficiaries of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, receive a carte de séjour residency permit that allows them to work with no need for a permit.

Holders of the student visa or residency permit also have the automatic right to work, albeit with a limit of 964 hours per year.

Oftentimes, those in need of a separate work permit document would be applying for or renewing a residency permit that is specifically related to working in France (eg. the salarié or travailleur temporaire statuses).

There are also certain sectors that allow people to work without needing a permit.

If you are curious whether you need one, you can consult the French visa website HERE, which offers a simulator that you can click through and find out if you need a work permit (autorisation de travail).

READ MORE: Working in France: Who needs a work permit?

What about salary thresholds?

For those who do need a permit, there is no set minimum salary, but the guideline amount is French minimum wage - the SMIC - which as of May 2023 was set to €1,747 per month, pre-tax. 

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Generally, the test is that you will not become a burden on the French state, but each visa and residency permit is assessed on its own merits, including several other aspects unrelated to salary.

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

If you're a full-time employee then you should naturally be earning at least French minimum wage (otherwise your company is in trouble), while part-time workers may need to demonstrate that they are earning the amount set by the collective agreement for their sector. 

Setting yourself up as a freelancer/contractor in France

If you want to work as a freelancer or contractor in France, you can apply for the "entrepreneur/profession libérale" residency card. Typically, you will be required to show proof that you have a history of earning at least minimum wage, or proof that you will be able to earn at least minimum wage. 

In some cases, this requirement might be relaxed depending on your individual situation, but you should expect to justify your ability to earn a living as a freelancer. To find more information on how to apply, click here.

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Graduates from French higher education

If you have graduated with a higher degree from France, then in most cases you will be eligible for the job seeker residency permit (recherche d'emploi/création d'entreprise) - a handy permit that essentially gives you a year after graduation to find a job.

Once you have secured a contract you will need your employer to apply for a work permit on your behalf. 

READ MORE: Ask the expert: How students can remain in France after finishing their degree

The benefit of this card is that it gives you a year to find a job after graduating. If you find a job in your sector, then your employer will not have to prove that you are more qualified than other local candidates for the role.

The downside is that your eventual job must have a higher salary threshold than most - as of 2023, the minimum monthly gross salary was €2,620.80, or 1.5X the minimum wage (as shown in the table below) for switching onto salarié or travailleur temporaire following higher education in France.

Screenshot from the French Service-Public website

Passeport talent residency permits

If you came to France on a 'talent passport' visa - a multi-year visa reserved for people in certain specialist fields or work or high-earners, you may also face a higher salary requirement.

There are many different types of passeport talent residency permits. Most give the right to work, meaning a separate work permit document would not be required. However, some of them (not all) have salary minimums to qualify for the residency permit.

1. Salarié qualifié: This residency permit requires that you have obtained a higher education degree in France. You must also hold an employment contract with a salary (as of 2023, pre-tax) of €41,933 or more per year.

2. Carte bleue européenne: To qualify for this residency permit, one of the requirements is that you have at least three years of higher education or five years of work experience in your field, as well as an annual pre-tax salary of at least €53,836.50.

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3. Salarié en mission: This permit applies to intra-company transfers to France, meaning you are the employee of a company established abroad and have come to France to work via a transfer or agreement between establishments of the same company or between companies of the same group. One of the requirements is a pre-tax annual salary of at least €37,739.52 (as of 2023).

4. Mandataire social: To qualify for this passeport talent, you must be a legal representative of a business established in France and you must have been working within that group or business for at least three months. You must earn at least €62,899.20 per year (pre-tax) to qualify for this residency permit.

Other considerations

As we've seen, many foreigners living in France will not need a work permit at all, as their residency card might act as one or they may work in a specific field with exceptions. For those who do need work permits, most people won't need to earn much above the French minimum wage.

But there is another consideration - the work permit is the responsibility of the employer, and getting it for a new employee can be a time-consuming process, especially if that employee is recruited from outside of France. In some cases, employers must also prove that they have already advertised the job locally and did not get any suitable French or EU candidates, before they are allowed to offer the role to a non-EU candidate.

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This means that non-EU candidates are in general less attractive to French employers, because of the extra paperwork required.

In practice this means that employers are often reluctant to hire non-EU staff for low-wage jobs, and non-EU candidates need to prove that they have something special to offer to make the extra paperwork worth while.

This isn't the case for all jobs, however, especially for industries that are suffering from recruitment problems - such as hospitality or healthcare. 

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