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EXPLAINED: What is France’s ‘working holiday’ visa?

The Local France
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EXPLAINED: What is France’s ‘working holiday’ visa?
(Photo by THOMAS COEX / AFP)

Depending on your age and nationality, you may be entitled to apply for a one-off ‘working holiday’ visa that allows you to live and work in France for a year.


For some people, three months visa-free in France might be enough, while other lucky souls are able to self-finance a longer trip.

But there is another option - a visa that allows you to spend a year seeing France, and earn some cash along the way. It is known as the vacances-travail (working holiday) visa.

Who for?

First things first, this visa is not available to everyone. Brits and Americans, for example, do not qualify.

In fact only citizens of 16 non-European countries may apply for this particular visa: Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, South Korea, Ecuador, Japan, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Taiwan, Uruguay.


Meanwhile EU citizens don't require a visa to live or work in France.

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

There is also an age limit for applicants. Residents of all but three countries on the list must be between the ages of 18 and 30 at the time of their application for the working holiday visa. Citizens of Argentina, Australia and Canada can apply between the ages of 18 and 35.

How does it work?

The visa is a one-year one and in most circumstances it cannot be extended beyond its one-year limit.

It is not, therefore, suitable for people planning a long-term move to France - it's intended to help young people spend some time here and pay their own way as they go.

As the name suggests, you can work while on the one-year visa.

In reality, these jobs are mostly short-term, casual or seasonal work - since employers looking to fill a permanent position will be unlikely to take a chance on a short-term visa such as this.

Some of the common jobs that holders of these visas do include bar work, seasonal work on farms, summer tourist employment or working the ski season.

Once in France, it's up to you to decide how much of your stay will be vacances (holiday) and how much travail (work), there is no set amount of work.


How to get one?

The working holiday visa works like every other visa type.

Applications have to be submitted to the relevant visa centre in their home country, before travelling to France.

However Australian, Canadian and Colombian nationals living overseas can apply via the French consular service in their country of residence.

You need to wait until the visa arrives before travelling to France, and it cannot be linked to any other visa type. In most circumstances you would not be able to stay in France for longer than a year, or switch to another visa type - although exceptions can be made for force majeure (eg illness or other circumstances outside your control).

Find more details here.


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