Riviera Reporter
Riviera Reporter

Applying for a French work permit as a non-EU citizen

This applies to non-EU citizens :  Americans, Canadians, Australians, South Africans, etc. 

The following is to be used as a guideline and is in no way a guarantee of being approved for a French work visa.

You must apply at the local French embassy or consulate where you live prior to coming to France.
You can only apply for type of French visa. Should your application be rejected, you can’t turn around and apply for another category of visa, say a long-term visa (which does not entitle you to work). So chose carefully.

French immigration gives 6 possible criteria to apply for work permits in France. (See:
  • 1. New “Skills and Talents" permit
  • 2. "Salaried" and “Temporary Worker" permit
  • 3. New “Employee on Assignment” permit
  • 4. “Employee on Assignment” card
  • 5. for senior managers or high-level executives
  • 6. “Seasonal Worker" permit
  • 7. “Scientific" permit
For these permits, information can be found online as to criteria needed. See the informative French consulate in LA: 

There is an additional permit not usually mentioned and that is to apply as a “Travailleur Independent” (self-employed).

carte residentWhen considering this, two things to keep in mind:

1/ you need to prove your employment efforts in France will not take work away from a French person. 

2/ Due to the nonflexible work contracts in France, French companies are not going to hire, nor apply for a visa, on your behalf as it’s too costly.

Here’s an example: A French learning institution had a request from an important client for Russian lessons. So they needed a Russian teacher and applied and paid for the application process on behalf of a Russian teaching candidate they wanted to hire. The work permit was denied and the company was told to find a French instructor that spoke Russian. This is the mindset you are up against.

To apply as “Travailleur Independent” you need to provide:

- letter of intent in French starting with:

Veuillez trouver ci-joint ma demande pour un visa “Travailleur Indépendant” pour que je peux travailler légalement en France sous l’arrangement d'auto-entrepreneur.

Points to include:
  • outline your work consultancy plan in France within the English-speaking community (remember, you have to indicate that you will not be taking a job away from a French person)
  • impress upon a desire to learn the language and culture (indicate your level of French, your intent to take lessons upon arrival with Alliance Française, say, and wish to integrate)
  • point out educational background
Essentially you need to show that you are financially independent of the state, employable, covered by health care in both your current country of residence and for France.

So you will need to provide originals (ALL translated in to French) + one photocopy of each:
  • passport 
  • letter from health insurer stating specifically policy provides coverage in France and worldwide (translate this to French, also) 
  • long stay visa application filled out (see http://www.consulfrance-losangeles.org/IMG/pdf/Formulaire_LS_eng.pdf)
  • 3 photos
  • updated resume/CV-
  • bank attestation showing equivlent of 12,000 euros in account (if your application is approved, you will need to transfer this to your French bank account and have an attestation of funds for when you go the prefecture to pick up your residence claim) 
  • letters of recommendation from previous employers
  • last income tax statement
  • letters of intent from businesses here 
To set up an account in France, see http://www.cotedazur.banquepopulaire.fr/Magazine/international_branch/english/home.html

Example of letter of intent: 

Lettre d'intention

Je soussignée XX gérante en exercise de (name of business) certifie que je suis intéressé par les services de Monsieur/Madame (your name), né le (day/month/year of birth) à (city where born), (country where born) et demeurant à (current residing address) (country of residence). Je souhaite que la présente lettre d'intention puisse constituer un élément important dans le dossier qui lui permettra d’obtenir les authorisations nécessaire pour travailler dans notre pays.

Ses prestations nous seront essentielles pour les raisons suviantes:
  • We need an English-speaking (your service) who can  (reasons they need your consultancy services)
  • It's difficult to find experienced and reliable English support here, who are and legally registered
La présente letter délivrée pour servir et valoir ce que de droit.

Fait à (city) le

La gérante
(manager/owner’s name)

(tampon/Stamp of business)


You also need a guarantor to provide:
  • letter from garant explaining his/her situation in France 
  • photocopy of guarantor’s house deed proving ownership
  • photocopy of guarantor’s last EDF bill
  • photocopy of guarantor’s titre de sejour and passport
  • photocopy of guarantor’s last income tax statement, letter from employer or URSSAF attestation if self-employed
Once you have your papers in order, contact your local French consulate to make an appointment for your application. Be prepared. Check with their specific website to make sure you have all the information necessary. Don’t be surprised if “Travailleur Independent” does not appear on the site, it’s a lesser-known work permit.

If approved, you will receive from the French consulate by Fedex-type post a 3-month Schengen visa in your passport. With this, you must travel to France within the 3-month period, and upon arrival report within 8 days (your passport will be stamped at customs) to the closest prefecture to obtain a one-year residence card. Don’t expect the prefecture visit to be pleasant. You may have been approved stateside but the prefecture will put your through the rails all over again. If your French isn’t good enough, go with someone who can translate for you. And a warning: prefecture hours for these services are limited to mornings and the line-up can be very long so plan to go earlier than the opening hours and queue outside. 

Useful websites

Ministry for Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Co-development 
101, rue de Grenelle - 75323 Paris cedex 07

Prefectures - http://www.interieur.gouv.fr

French Embassies and French Consulates abroad  http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr

ANAEM Agence nationale de l’accueil des étrangers et des migrations - http://www.ofii.fr/defaut.php3

AFII Agence française pour les investissements internationaux - http://www.invest-in-france.org

BPCA, Banque Populaire English Speaking Service -

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