Visas & Immigration

Work visas in France

Got a French job offer? From short-stay visas to talent passports, here’s what you need to know about work visas in France.

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Updated 15-5-2024

Whether you need a visa to live and work in France depends on your residence status, nationality, and the type of work you’ll be hired to do.

Discover what work visas are available in France, what their requirements are, and how to apply:

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Working in France

Like other European Union (EU) countries, France has a two-tier immigration system. Nationals from the EU and European Free Trade Association (EFTA – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland) can live and work freely in the country. Those from outside the region are subject to immigration controls. So if you are part of the latter, you’ll likely need a visa to live and work in France.

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Photo: Tim Douglas/Pexels

The French Office for Immigration and Integration (L’office Francais de l’immigration et de l’intégration – OFII) is the government agency in charge of immigration and visas.

French work visas can usually be split into three categories, which are:

  • Short-stay work visas – valid for up to three months
  • Temporary work visas – normally valid for three months to a year
  • Long-stay work visas – multi-year visas, typically valid for 5–10 years and often renewable

Looking a little closer, you can divide those categories into six sub-categories:

  • Salaried or temporary worker permits (carte de séjour – salarié/travailleur temporaire) – a general multi-year residence card for expats working in France
  • Talent passports (passeport talent) – a temporary or multi-year residence card for high-skilled workers, entrepreneurs, artists, academic researchers, and inter-company transfers (ICT)
  • ICT worker permits (carte de séjour – salarié détaché ICT stagiaire ICT) – a temporary or multi-year residence permit issued to family members of internal transfers in senior management roles or work that involves high-level expertise
  • Self-employed, entrepreneurial, or ‘liberal’ job permits (carte de séjour – intrepreneur/profession libérale) – a one-year residence permit for applicants who want to create or participate in a commercial, industrial, artisanal, or agricultural activity or work in a liberal profession)
  • Seasonal worker permits (carte de séjour – travailleur saisonnier) – a temporary or one-year residence permit for people working in seasonal fields, such as tourism and agriculture
  • Special cases – temporary or multi-year permits for travelers on a working holiday, volunteers, and interns

Who needs a work visa in France?

EU/EFTA nationals and students

Anyone from the EU/EFTA region can move to France and work without a visa or permit.

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Photo: Maarten van den Heuvel/Unsplash

Students also don’t need a work visa because it is already included in their residence permit. They are allowed to work up to 964 hours a year (i.e., around 60% of standard working time in France) unless they are Algerian. in this case, they can only work 50% of normal French working hours.

Also, if you are already in France on another visa (e.g., a family visa), you will need to check the terms of your permit to see whether you are allowed to work. If not, you can apply for work authorization from the French authorities.

Non-EU/EFTA nationals (including UK residents)

When you are from outside the EU/EFTA, you will likely need a work visa. There are some exceptions to this rule. You don’t need a visa when you work in or at:

  • Modeling and artistic posing
  • Sporting, cultural, artistic, and scientific events
  • Conferences, seminars, and trade events
  • Occasional teaching activities by invited lecturers
  • Production and distribution relating to cinematic, audiovisual works, shows, and music recordings
  • Providing an individual employer’s services in France (personal services and domestic work)
  • Audit and consulting in IT, management, finance, insurance, architecture, and engineering, under the terms of a service agreement or intra-company transfer agreement

Due to Brexit, UK citizens are subject to the same immigration restrictions as non-EU/EFTA nationals. They will usually require a work permit to work in France. However, unlike non-EU/EFTA citizens, they don’t need a visa to enter and stay in France for less than three months. If they want to stay longer, they must apply for a residence permit.

Types of work visas in France

There are four main categories of work-related visas in France:

  • Short-stay work visa
  • Temporary work visa
  • Long-stay work visa
  • Special case work visas

Although the application process is similar, each has different requirements and costs and varies on how long it is valid.

Short-stay French work visas

France has a short-term work visa valid for up to 90 days within any 180-day period. This visa is issued for any general short-term work and business travel. You cannot renew a short-stay French visa; instead, you’ll need to apply for a long-stay visa.

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Depending on your nationality and situation, a short-term French work visa costs between €9 and €80. You need to pay the fee in the currency specified by the consulate or embassy when you apply.

Temporary French work visas

Of course, some jobs require a little more time than 90 days. If that’s the case, you can apply for a temporary worker visa (travailleur temporaire). This visa includes a temporary residence permit (visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour – VLS-TS). It is valid from three months to one year. The exception is seasonal workers, who are only allowed to work for six months during one year.

There are a number of different temporary work visas available in France, including:

  • Young professionals (jeune professionnel) aged 18–35 doing temporary work during a cultural exchange visit
  • Employed workers transferred to a French branch of an international company
  • Language teachers and teaching assistants
  • Models, modeling assistants, or modeling agency workers
  • Seasonal workers

A temporary work visa costs €80, plus €225 for the residence permit.

Long-stay French work visas

If your employment lasts more than a year, you’ll need a long-stay work visa. These are often valid for one year, with some exceptions. For instance, the permit for au pairs is valid for one to two years, the international transfer visa for three years, and the talent passport for four years. In all cases, the long-stay visa is renewable.

The long-term work visa is issued to:

  • High-skilled, academic, or innovative workers (talent passport)
  • Senior management employees transferred from abroad to a French branch of international companies (salarié détaché ICT)
  • Au pairs aged 18–30 who will live with a family in France to study French
  • Medical professionals
  • Other permanent employees

A long-stay visa in France costs €99, plus €225 for the residence permit. You need to pay your fee with tax stamps when you apply.

Talent Passport

As mentioned before, France has a work visa called the talent passport. If you are a highly-skilled professional or entrepreneur whose skills or business ideas significantly benefit the French economy, you can apply for this special visa.

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Photo: Julia M Cameron/Pexels

It is valid for four years and allows you to bring your spouse and (dependent) children with you. The talent passport is also €99, plus €225 for the residence permit.

Special case work visas

Volunteer visa

If you want to work for the benefit of society, France offers visas for three types of volunteer work:

To apply for a volunteer visa (volontaire), you will need to provide evidence, such as an official letter of acceptance or invitation from the organization. If you are successful, you will receive a VLS-T long-term visa for the duration of your placement.

Work experience and internships

Students who want to take up a professional work placement with a French business or organization can apply for a student trainee visa (stagiaire étudiant). The placement has to be part of a university training course, EU cooperation program, or intergovernmental scheme. For example, this visa is issued to nurses, medical students, and pharmacists.

You can also get a visa for an internship with a French company. To get an internship visa (stagiaire), you’ll need to sign an internship agreement with your sponsoring employer, organization, or company.

Working holiday visa

Depending on your nationality, travelers aged between 18 and 30 can apply for a working holiday visa (vacances travail) permitting you to work while you are traveling through France. The age limit increases to 35 for Argentinian, Australian, and Colombian nationals. This visa is valid for one year and is usually not renewable.

How to apply for a work visa in France

The process of getting a work visa in France is threefold. First, you will need to secure yourself a pre-existing job offer. Next, your future employer will have to apply for a work permit. After that, you can put in your work visa application.

Work permit

Once you have your job offer in hand, the French employer can apply for a work permit from the Regional Directorate of Economy, Employment, Labor, and Solidarity (Directions régionales de l’économie, de l’emploi, du travail, et des solidarités – DREETS).

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Photo: William Fortunato/Pexels

Typically, they will need to provide:

  • Details of the role and job description
  • Commercial register number or company tax number
  • Evidence that the employee meets the requirements of the position (e.g., membership in any professional bodies)
  • Proof of salary, as some highly qualified roles have minimum salary requirements (usually at least 1.8 times the French minimum wage)

Work visa application

After you have been given a work permit, you can apply for your work visa. You can do this by submitting an application with supporting documentation online. You will typically need to provide:

  • Valid passport or photo ID
  • Two recent passport photos
  • Evidence of your employment offer or business trip (e.g., work permit, employment contract, or business event invitation)
  • Proof that you have funds to support yourself in France (e.g., bank statements)
  • Details of accommodation plans covering your stay
  • Proof of health insurance

Next, you will need to make an appointment at the visa application center in your home country no later than two weeks before your travel date.

Appeals and complaints about work visas

If your application for a work visa has been refused and you don’t agree, you can file an appeal with either the French embassy or consulate in your home country or the Visa Appeals Board (Commission de Recours contre les Décisions de Refus de Visa). You need to do this within two months of the decision. The appeal must be in French if sent to the Visa Appeals Board.

If you are unhappy about the outcome, you can appeal it to the Ministry of the Interior (Ministère de l’Intérieur). The final option is to challenge it at the administrative court (Conseil d’Etat). This can be costly, so ensure you have a strong case before taking this course of action.

Useful resources

  • France-Visas – the official visa website for France
  • OFII – the French government office in charge of immigration (excluding refugees)
  • OFPRA – the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (Office Français de protection des réfugiés et apatrides that manages all immigration for refugees and asylum seekers
  • Ministère de l’Intérieur – the French interior ministry that oversees immigration, integration, and citizens’ rights
  • DREETS – the official point of contact where French employers can secure your work permit
  • Service-Public – this website is for the French government’s public services
  • Next Station – an international recruiting platform that can help you find a job in France