Visas, staying, working

Do you need a visa to enter France?

Depending on your situation and nationality, a visa will be required to stay in France. To get a personalized assistance, please consult the dedicated « Procedures » page of Welcome to France.

EU, EEA and Swiss nationals

Members of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland can travel freely within the European Union.

They are free to enter France without a visa but must have a valid national identity card or passport.

EU members wishing to live in France need to register at the town hall in the municipality where they are staying within 3 months after arriving in France.

EU and EEA Member States and Switzerland:

  • Austria
  • Greece
  • Norway*
  • Belgium
  • Hungary
  • Poland
  • Bulgaria
  • Iceland*
  • Portugal
  • Croatia
  • Ireland
  • Romania
  • Cyprus
  • Italy
  • Slovakia
  • Czech Republic
  • Latvia
  • Slovenia
  • Denmark
  • Liechtenstein*
  • Spain
  • Estonia
  • Lithuania
  • Sweden
  • Finland
  • Luxembourg
  • Switzerland
  • France
  • Malta
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • Netherlands

Other foreign nationals

A visa issued by the French authorities also grants you the right to travel to the Member States of the Schengen Area

To enter France, you must have:

    • A travel document (a valid passport or a visa and / or residence permit issued by the French authorities or those of a Schengen country).
    • Written proof related to your personal (reason, duration…) or professional stay (duration, visited establishments…)
    • Written proof related to your financial means during you stay
    • Repatriation guarantees

French authorities reserve the right to refuse entry into French territory.

Applying for a short stay visa (3 months)

A short-stay visa allows foreign nationals to enter and stay in France for up to 3 months. Short-stay visas can be single-entry for one short stay or multiple-entry for several successive short stays.

It is granted for:

    • Tourist visits
    • Pleasure, family or personal visits
    • Business trips
    • Short courses or internships
    • Paid employment, under certain conditions

The short stay visa does not allow its beneficiary to settle in France or to bring his family. Its validity is 5 years maximum. The maximum duration allowed is 90 days per 180-day period and valid in the Schengen Area.

Applications must be submitted to the French embassy or consulate in the applicant’s country of residence no earlier than three months before the planned date of arrival in France.

Applying for a long stay visa

A long-stay visa allows foreign nationals to stay in France for more than three months. The goal is to enable the holder to obtain a residence permit so they can live in France during a specific period of time.

A long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit (“visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour” – VLS-TS) allows the holder to enter France and live in the country from 3 to 12 months without applying for a separate residence permit.

Applications must be submitted to the French embassy or consulate in the applicant’s country of residence.

During the validity periody, the long-stay visa grants the same rights as a temporary residence permit or a multi-year residence permit.

To request a long-stay visa in France, valid motives are:

    • Working or investing
    • Studying
    • Doing an internship or a training
    • Traveling for tourist, family or personal visits
    • Traveling for business
    • Traveling for a family reunification

Long-stay visas are valid from 3 months until one year. Upon expiry, the holder must leave the country. If not, the holder becomes an unauthorized resident in France, and can be fined. Failure in this instance will also be considered if the holder applies for another visa.

The visa allows the holder to apply for a residence permit to settle in France. Foreign nationals wishing to extend their stay must contact the Préfecture in their place of residence 2 months before their visa expires to obtain a residence permit authorizing them to stay in France.

Long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit

A long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit (“visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour” – VLS-TS) allows the holder to enter France and live in the country from 3 to 12 months without applying for a separate residence permit. This visa is valid up to 1 year. After the first year of residence, foreign nationals wishing to extend their stay in France must apply for a new permit which corresponds to their situation. In this case, they must apply to the Préfecture in the two months before their VLS-TS expires.

VLS-TS applications must be submitted to the French embassy or consulate in the applicant’s country of residence.

Apart from Swiss and EEA nationals, citizens of the following are exempt from the VLS-TS:

  • Monaco
  • Andorra
  • The Vatican
  • San Marino

Categories of VLS-TS include:

  • The ‘Employee’ VLS-TS, aimed at foreign nationals recruited by companies in France, for one year or more.
  • The ‘Temporary Worker’ VLS-TS, aimed at employees allowed to work in France from 3 to 12 months.
  • The ‘Research Scientist’ VLS-TS, issued to foreigners undertaking research work or teaching at university level.
  • The ‘Student’ VLS-TS.
  • The ‘ICT’ VLS-TS, for intra-company transferees and their families for stays of less than 12 months.
  • The ‘Talent Passport’ VLS-TS for all stays of less than 12 months in the following categories:The ‘Talent Passport’ VLS-TS for all stays of less than 12 months in the following categories:
    • Business investors
    • Company directors
    • Employees on assignment
    • Highly skilled workers (European Union Blue Card)
    • Skilled young graduate employees or employees of an innovative new company (jeune entreprise innovante – JEI)
    • Researchers
    • Founders of a startup business
    • Owners of innovative business projects recognized as such by a public agency
    • Performing artists
    • Foreigners nationally or internationally recognized as experts in their field (in the scientific, literary, artistic, intellectual, educational or sporting fields)

What kind of residence permit do you need to live in France?

In addition to a visa, you also need to apply for a residence permit to live in France. The type of residence permit you need depends on the reason of your stay.

You are coming to run a company in France

The “Talent Passport” is the official document you need whether you are creating a company or startup or are the director of a multinational company.

This document is valid up to 4 years on a renewable basis depending on the nature, characteristics and length of the project.
Once in France, the residence permit is issued to the business creator by the prefect of their department of residence upon presentation of the long-stay visa. The request must be made 3 months before the date of arrival in France.

Applicants living outside France should apply to the French consular authorities in their usual place of residence. The residence permit should be applied for at the same time as the long-stay visa “Talent Passport”. Once in France, the residence permit is issued to the new business creator by the Prefect of their departement of residence upon presentation of the long-stay visa.

If applicants are already living in France with a different type of residence permit, they need to apply to the Préfecture (office of the Prefect, the local representative of national government) in their place of residence for a change of status. Renewal applications must be submitted in the two months before the residence permit expires. Applications should be made to the Préfecture in the applicant’s place of residence in France.

Depending on your situation and project, you may apply for one of the following residence permits:

  • Company directors or legal representatives : Talent Passport – company director’ multi-year residence permit
  • Company founders : ‘Talent Passport – new business’ multi-year residence permit
  • Startup founders : ‘Talent Passport – innovative business project’ multi-year residence permit

You are coming to invest in France

Foreign investors wishing to settle in France for a planned investment can apply for a visa Talent Passport ‘Business investor’ if they proceed to a direct investment either:

  • Personnally;
  • Via a company they control;
  • Or Via a company in which they have at least a 30% shareholding.

They also need to meet all of the following criteria:

  • They are creating or protecting, or committing to create or protect, jobs within the four years following the investment;
  • They are investing, or committing to invest, at least €300,000 in fixed tangible or intangible assets.

Foreign investors eligible to Talent Passport marked ‘Business investor’ involved in the French Tech sector can benefit from the French Tech Visa for Investors dedicated procedure.

Investors living outside of France should apply to the French consular authorities in their usual place of residence. The residence permit should be applied for at the same time as the long-stay visa marked Passeport Talent (‘Talent Passport’) authorizing the foreign investor to enter France. Once in France, the residence permit is issued to the investor by the Prefect of their department of residence upon presentation of the long-stay visa. The procedure should be initiated no earlier than three months before the date of arrival in France.

If applicants are already living in France under a different type of residence permit, they will need to apply to the Préfecture in their place of residence for a change of status so as to obtain a ‘Talent Passport – Business investor’. If the applicant is already living in France, the procedure should be initiated two months before the previous residence permit expires.

You are an employee: your employer is in France

To work in France longer than 3 months, you will need a residence permit.

Different categories of employees holding an employment contract with an employer established in France may be eligible for a multi-year Talent Passport permit, valid up to 4 years (renewable), under certain conditions :

  • Employees with a highly skilled position.
  • Certain employees transferred to France from another company in the same group and who have signed a local contract with the group’s French entity.
  • Employees recruited by an innovative new company (“jeune entreprise innovante” – JEI) and skilled employees who have obtained a masters-level degree in France. Employees recruited by a company recognized as innovative by the French Ministry of Economy may also be granted a Talent Passport via the French Tech visa for Employees.

Foreign employees not eligible for a Talent Passport may still be granted access to the French labor market through the issuance of a temporary residence permit.

Employees posted to France by an employer located outside France are not eligible for a Talent Passport. They may be eligible, subject to certain conditions, for another specific multi-year residence permit: the ‘Intra-company transfer’ permit (“Salarié détaché ICT” or “Salarié mobile ICT”) – or the ‘temporary worker’ card for employees posted to France within the scope of international service provision.

You will find below the different residence permits you can apply for depending on your situation:

  • Highly skilled employees : ‘Talent Passport – European Union Blue Card’ multi-year residence permit
  • Employees transferred within a group (French contract) : ‘Talent Passport – Employee on assignment’ multi-year residence permit
  • Qualified employees or employees working in innovative companies : ‘Talent Passport – Qualified employee or Employee of an innovative company’ multi-year residence permit

Applicants living outside France should apply to the French consular authorities in their usual place of residence. The residence permit should be applied for at the same time as the long-stay visa marked “Passeport Talent” (‘Talent Passport’) authorizing the foreign employee to enter France. Once in France, the residence permit is issued to the employee by the Prefect of their department of residence upon presentation of the long-stay visa. The procedure should be initiated no earlier than three months before the date of arrival in France.

If applicants are already living in France under a different type of residence permit, they will need to apply to the Préfecture (office of the Prefect, the local representative of national government) in their place of residence for a change of status. The procedure should be initiated two months before the previous residence permit expires.

You are an employee: your employer is outside France

Employees whose employment contract is maintained with their original employer are considered as seconded employees. They are sent to France for a temporary assignment of up to 3 years in the context of intra-group mobility or service provision.

Employees sent to France for an intra-company transfer can obtain a multi-year ‘Intra-company transfer’ residence permit (‘Salarié détaché ICT’). Applicants whose assignment last under one year are issued with a VLS-TS marked ‘Intra-company transfer’.

Once the assignment is completed, posted employees cannot stay in France and must return to their country of origin, and in any event after no more than three years.

Posted employees should apply to the French consular authorities in their usual place of residence. The residence permit should be applied for at the same time as the long-stay visa marked ‘Intra-company transfer’ authorizing the foreign employee to enter France. The procedure should be launched no earlier than three months before the date of arrival in France.

You are coming to provide a service

A foreign company without any establishments in France can temporarily post its employees to France to perform a service under the terms of a subcontracting agreement. The employer-employee relationship with the employer outside France is maintained.

Those employees will need a work permit, in addition to a VLS-TS “temporary worker” or a temporary residence permit “temporary worker”. This does not apply to citizens of the EU, the EEE or Switzerland.

The employer of the foreign employee will need to request a work permit to be attached to the residence permit application of the employee. The permit will be issued for a period over which the service is to be provided, up to 12 months.

Employees living outside of France will need to contact the French Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence. Employees living in France will have to contact the Prefecture of their Department of residence.

Other circumstances

If your residence permit no longer corresponds to your situation, you can apply to change your status so that it matches the reason of your stay in France.

This ‘change of status’ must be applied for at the Préfecture of the foreign national’s place of residence in France two months before the previous residence permit expires.

Is your family coming with you

Residence permits, Talent Passports and intra-company transfer (ICT) permits granted to foreign investors, company directors, startup owners and employees make it easier for your family to come to France with you.

Family members may be eligible for residence rights as well as access to employment through the ‘accompanying family’ procedure.

The simplified ‘accompanying family’ procedure is open to spouses and children under 18 who rely on the holder of one of the following multi-year permits:

Various categories of ‘Talent Passport’ (New businesses, startups and company directors, highly skilled employees, employees transferred between companies on a French contract, qualified young graduates, and employees of a startup) : ‘Talent Passport – Family’ permit

‘Intra-company transfer’ (Salarié détaché ICT) permit : ‘Intra-company transfer – Family’ permit

‘Intra-company transfer’ (Salarié détaché mobile ICT) permit: ‘Intra-company transfer – Family’ (Salarié détaché mobile ICT- Famille) permit

Do you need a work permit?

A work permit can take different forms:

  • A long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit (VLS-TS) or a residence permit authorizing the holder to take up paid employment.
  • A specific work permit for people whose residence permit does not allow them to work.

Obtaining a work permit

It is up to the employer, whether located in France or abroad, to submit the application for a work permit at least 2 months at least two months before the employee starts their assignment.

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.

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 living in France, the relevant authority is the one covering the foreign national’s place of residence. Upon arrival, le employees can start working.

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

Renewing a work permit

  • In the context of a VLS-TS or a residence permit authorizing a salaried activity, the request for renewal must be made 2 months before the end of validity of the title with the prefecture of his place of residence in France.
  • In the context of a specific work permit, the renewal application must be submitted to the Territorial Unit of the employee’s home 2 months before the end of the validity of the work permit.
  • In the context of a change in employment status (from a salaried activity to a business start-up, for example), an application for a change of status must be submitted 2 months before the expiry of the previous residence permit.

Employees posted to France by an employer established outside France  (service provider)

In addition to the required work permit, a pre-posting declaration must be sent in this case to the labor inspectorate at the place where the service is provided.

The application must be submitted before the beginning of the mission by any foreign employer via dedicated teleservice.