Obtaining a work permit
Recruitment of a foreign employee not in possession of a visa or residence permit authorizing paid employment requires a specific work permit. It is up to the employer, whether based in France or abroad, to submit the application for a work permit.
The company should submit the work permit application at least three months before the employee is due to take up their role.
Before submitting the application, the employer must have attempted to find a candidate already in the French labor market with the help of government agencies (e.g. Apec and Pôle Emploi) or private organizations.
|Helpful tip: Obtaining a work permit does not exempt foreign nationals from the requirement to apply for a visa allowing them to enter France and a residence permit granting the right of residence (for stays of over three months).
Citizens of the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland are not affected, they benefit from free movement within European territory and can settle and work in France
Where to apply
For employees living outside France, the employer should contact the foreign labor department of the local employment authorities (DIRECCTE) covering the place where the employee will be working, in order to apply for a work permit, this involves initiating the so-called introduction procedure. In Paris, applications can now be made online on the Work in France website.
In the overseas departments and regions (French Guiana, Reunion, Martinique, Mayotte or Guadeloupe), the Directorates for Enterprise, Competition, Consumer Affairs, Labour and Employment (DIECCTE) are responsible for processing work permit applications.
For employees resident in France, the employer must ensure that his future employee has a residence permit which authorizes him to work. To do this, the employer must request the authentication of his residence permit from the Prefecture that issued the permit.
If the foreign talent does not have such a title, a request for a work permit for the post considered is filed by the employer with the Direccte of the place of domicile of the foreign national.
Analysis of the work permit application
In deciding whether to grant a work permit, the relevant foreign labor department of the local employment authorities (DIRECCTE or DIECCTE ) review the following:
- Employment levels in the profession and region in question.
- The degree to which the foreign national’s skills, experience and qualifications match the characteristics of the proposed job.
- The employer’s compliance with legislation governing employment and social protection.
- The employee’s compliance, where applicable, with regulatory conditions governing the position in question.
- The conditions of employment and pay offered to the foreign national, which must be comparable to those granted to other employees of the company (or occupational sector) in similar roles.
- The proposed salary, which must be at least equal to the statutory national minimum wage (SMIC) (i.e. €18,473 for 2020).
- Any arrangements made by the employer to allow the foreign national entering France to have access to accommodation under normal circumstances.
The local employment authorities (DIRECCTE or DIECCTE) must reach a decision within a period of two months from the date on which a full application is submitted. If no response is issued within this two-month period, the application is deemed to have been rejected.
Helpful tip: Employment levels as grounds for rejection
Applications for work permits by foreign nationals can be rejected on the grounds of employment levels. Indeed, applications for work permits by foreign nationals can be rejected on the grounds of employment levels by the DIRECCTE or DIECCTE in the overseas departments or regions.
According to the region of employment, certain occupations are listed among the jobs in tension, that is to say characterized by difficulties in recruitment, for which there is no opposability of the employment situation.
To this list is added the professions in tension for foreign nationals originating from a country that has signed an agreement on migratory flows with France. These agreements provide for specific arrangements to promote the professional mobility of foreign nationals between the signatory countries.
More information on the provisions of these agreements on the website of the Ministry of the Interior affairs.
The request for a work permit from a foreign student holding a diploma at least equivalent to the master’s degree is examined without opposability of the employment situation, if the employment contract presented is related to his training and matched compensation at least equal to € 2,309.13 gross monthly on January 1, 2020.
The employer must provide the local employment authorities (DIRECCTE) with the following:
- A letter explaining the employee’s role or the reasons for their recruitment and detailing the duties they will be performing.
- The work permit application form:
- An up-to-date excerpt of the commercial register for legal entities (extrait K-bis) and sole proprietors (extrait K); a craft license (titre d’artisan); or, failing that, for private individuals, a tax notice.
- For intra-company transfers, evidence of the relationship between the company established in France and the company established abroad.
- A copy of the employee’s passport or national identity document.
- For employees already resident in France, a copy of the residence permit authorizing them to stay in France.
- The employee’s CV/résumé or other evidence of their skills and experience.
- Where applicable, a copy of any qualifications or certificates required for the position in question.
- Where the position in question is subject to specific regulatory conditions, evidence that these conditions are met.
- Where employment levels may constitute grounds for rejection, evidence of efforts made to find a candidate already in the French labor market.
If the employer is established outside France, the application must also include the following
- A certificate of employment from the company established outside France or initial employment contract, providing evidence of at least three months’ service.
- A sworn declaration of application for registration with the French social security system.
- Where applicable, a sworn declaration of application for registration with the relevant paid leave scheme (caisse des congés payés).
- Where applicable, a letter appointing a person established in France to complete the required administrative formalities in its name and on its behalf.
If your application is rejected
Within two months of being notified that the application has been rejected, the employer may lodge one or more administrative and legal appeals:
- A free informal appeal to the authority that made the decision.
- An appeal to a higher authority, namely the Minister of the Interior.
- An action for annulment before the administrative court.
Foreign employees are not allowed to undertake paid employment during the appeal process.
On arriving in France
The foreign national may begin work immediately upon arriving in France, subject to obtaining the work permit and then the appropriate long-stay visa. A long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit can be granted if the duration of the contract or of the planned mission is less than 12 months.
A declaration must be submitted to the French Immigration and Citizenship Office (Office français de l’immigration et de l’intégration – OFII) within three months of arrival: the application for an OFII certificate must be sent by post (with acknowledgement of receipt) to the regional office covering the département where the foreign national is resident. From February 18th 2019, the validation procedure is now made online using the following website: administration-etrangers-en-france.interieur.gouv.fr.
The employee is then asked to attend a compulsory medical examination and/or welcome visit.
A work permit issued in an overseas department or region (Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte and Reunion Island) is only valid in that department. Foreign talent holding such a permit and who would like to come to mainland France to work as an employee must obtain a new work permit.