Obtaining a work permit

Obtaining a work permit

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Recruitment of a foreign employee not in possession of a visa or residence permit authorizing paid employment requires a specific work permit.

Who should apply?

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 two 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. 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).

Please see the ‘Visas’ and ‘Residence permits’ sections.


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.

For employees resident in France, the relevant authority is the one covering the foreign national’s place of residence.

Find the relevant DIRECCTE office

In deciding whether to grant a work permit, the relevant foreign labor department of the local employment authorities (DIRECCTE) 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. €18,254.60 for 2019).
  • 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) 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. The local employment authorities (DIRECCTE) assess work permit applications in light of labor market conditions, with particular reference to the level of unemployment in the sector or region in question. 

Documents required

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.

What to do 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.

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.

Find the relevant OFII office

The employee is then asked to attend a compulsory medical examination and/or welcome visit.


The employer must pay a tax to the French Immigration and Citizenship Office (Office français de l'immigration et de l'intégration – OFII). This tax is due following the employee’s medical examination and is in addition to the cost of the visa or residence permit authorizing the foreign employer to stay in France.

The amount varies depending on the duration of the employment contract:

  • 12 months or longer: 55% of the salary paid to the foreign employee, subject to a maximum of 2.5 times the statutory national minimum wage (SMIC) (i.e. €3.803,05 for 2019).
  • Between three and 12 months: from €50 to €300.
  • For seasonal jobs: €50 per month or part-month of salaried employment.

Employers do not have to pay this tax for employees coming to work in France for less than three months.

The following are also exempt from this tax:

  • Public research organizations and public interest foundations.
  • Higher education institutions.
  • Public foundations and institutions for scientific cooperation.

For further information, please see the section on residence permits.