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Expats Working in France

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: December 2013

Permission to Work

Citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland, Andorra and Monaco and their family members are all free to live and work in France. However, family members must be EEA or Swiss citizens in order to work in France without any further documentation. EEA and Swiss citizens are permitted to work in nearly all jobs in France, the main exceptions being certain public office positions.

If you are a national of any other country and want to work in France for more than 12 months, you will need to prove you have a firm job offer before the immigration process can start. Next, your employer must apply to the local foreign labour department for a residence permit (carte de séjour) on your behalf. (A residence permit allows you both to reside and work in France – see Settlement, Residence and Citizenship for more details. on residence permits.) Only after you have a residence permit will you be able to apply for a long-stay visa in your home country. For more information about long-stay visas, see Visas and Passports.

The carte de séjour needs to be renewed every 12 months. French residence permits are restricted in that they are only valid for the particular profession you have been offered a job for and in that area only. Note that, under new laws, you do not now need a residence permit if you only intend to work in France for 3 to 12 months. In such cases, your long-stay visa alone will suffice.

Another possibility if your company has a branch in France is to gain a temporary secondment permit. If you become seconded to a French branch of your company, you still remain employed by your home country’s branch. The permit lasts for a maximum of 18 months, though it can be extended for 9 months more.


Working Conditions

Working conditions in France are set out by the French Labour Code (Code du Travail), and are in general very good. All employees are guaranteed a minimum of five weeks’ annual leave, and after serving a probationary period, most gain permanent contracts, which are very secure. In addition, the set working week is from 35 to 40 hours and overtime is unusual. According to some studies, the French work fewer hours than any other country in the world.

Furthermore, salaries often include a 13th monthly payment each year, payable at Christmas. All these benefits are over and above those guaranteed by France’s membership of the EU. In case of times of unemployment, the French social security system provides a highly adequate safety net.

This page gives details on the working conditions, and immigration procedures necessary to obtain work in France. For more information about working in France, see our Employment and Business articles.




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