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How is France's 'talent passport' affected by new language rules?

The Local France
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How is France's 'talent passport' affected by new language rules?
TO GO WITH AFP STORY A researcher looks at a sample in France (Photo by MEHDI FEDOUACH / AFP)

People working in highly-skilled sectors are often eligible for a multi-year 'talent passport' residency card in France - here's how they will be affected by changes in France's new immigration law.

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The 'Talent Passport' visa was first introduced as an immigration track for certain highly-skilled sectors including scientific researchers and artists. However in recent years it has been expanded to cover groups including high-paid workers and foreign investors, as well as people with an international reputation in their field.

The visa is attractive - as intended, since its aim is to lure certain valuable workers to France - and it includes going straight onto a four-year carte de séjour for the visa holder and their family members.

READ ALSO How the Talent Passport works and who can get it

France recently promulgated its new immigration law, which created new language requirements for many foreigners applying for multi-year cards and citizenship.

One of the main changes will affect those making their first application for a carte de séjour pluriannuelle (multi-year card, with a max duration of four years). They will now need to demonstrate a French level of at least A2 according to the DELF/ CERL international language scale.

This has left many wondering whether the new rules will apply to the 'talent passport' category, which offers a wide range of multi-year residency permits under the title pluriannuelle.

Will 'talent' cards be affected?

The short answer is that people with 'talent passport' statuses will be exempt from several of the changes to be brought in under the immigration law.

In many cases, people coming to France on a talent passport visa (and their family members) are issued with a four-year carte de séjour straight away, with no requirement to take a language test. This will not change.

When the time comes to renew the card, you can renew it for another four-year 'talent passport' carte de séjour, provided you still meet the conditions (eg salary, type of work). There are no plans to make a language test required for the renewal either.

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Nevertheless, people with the 'talent passport' will still be held to new language requirements if they decide to apply for either the 10-year carte de résident or for French citizenship.

For the 10-year carte de résident, the language requirement has been raised to B1, and for naturalisation, the requirement has been increased to B2.

Whether people on the talent passport card decide to move to the 10-year card is entirely a matter of personal choice.

A section of the new law that limits the number of times cards can be renewed specifically excludes the talent passport. Holders of this card can, therefore, simply keep renewing every four years for the entire duration of their stay in France, even if that stay ends up lasting decades. 

READ MORE: Your questions answered: New French language requirements for foreigners

But my talent passport carte de séjour says 'pluriannuelle' on it?

Yes - by definition, a card that lasts more than one year is pluriannuelle (multi-year), but the new law offers an exemption for people with talent passport statuses. 

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The clause that adds in the A2 requirement for first-time applications for pluriannuelle cards says that the new language rule "does not apply to foreign nationals exempt from signing a republican integration contract (contrat d'intégration républicaine)."

This refers to the groups of people who will not be called up by OFII to take civics or language courses, which includes anyone falling under the 'talent passport' category, as well as their family members and posted workers.

READ MORE: OFII: Your questions answered on France's immigration office

What else are talent passport holders exempt from?

The immigration law also includes changes to OFII civics courses, such as the addition of a test at the end of the class.

While these changes will affect holders of other multi-year cards, like those with the status of salarié (employee), they will not apply to those with talent passport status.

Talent passport holders will remain exempt from the requirement to take civics and language courses offered by OFII - you can see the groups currently are required to take OFII civics and language courses (for the 'republican integration contract') here.

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Similarly, those under the talent passport category will also be exempt from another portion of the immigration law - a clause (Article 21) which states "there cannot be more than three consecutive renewals of a temporary residence card bearing an identical mention (title)."

This will effectively force some groups of people to either switch onto a pluriannuelle card or a carte de résidence.

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Talent passport holders are specifically excluded from this requirement, meaning they can continue to renew this status without limit as long as they continue to meet the original requirements.

Who qualifies for the talent passport?

There are multiple different categories, including people considered 'qualified or highly qualified employees' - such as researchers, those working for 'new innovative enterprises', and posted workers.

Several of these are subject to minimum income and education requirements.

The category also encompasses certain self-employed people, including those starting businesses in France or making direct economic investments, as well as those working in France 'with international reputation', plus some artists and performers.

READ MORE: Talent passport: The little-known French visa that could make moving to France a lot easier

The new immigration law was also meant to streamline some of the application processes, particularly for highly skilled employees, as well as creating a new category to help foreign healthcare workers move to France for work.

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