6 things to know about work permits in France

July 26, 2022

france work permit requirements

Hiring employees as part of a global expansion requires thorough understanding of employment requirements. If your plan for doing business France includes hiring foreign workers, it’s important to learn about the country’s work permit laws.

The French government issues work permits to foreign employees temporarily working in France. Work permits are issued for two reasons: to prove to the French government that an employee is qualified to complete the tasks in their job description and to stipulate visa and residency terms.

Hiring international workers in France

Hiring international employees in France typically requires having a legal entity in the country or plans to establish one.

Creating a legal entity can be a lengthy process. Companies seeking a French entity must:

  1. Choose one of five business categories, then complete the rest of the process and submit the required documents with that category’s specific registration center
  2. Pick a legal structure from France’s two options—sole trader or company
  3. Follow specific procedures for regulated businesses in France, which include veterinarians, construction companies, hairstylists and more
  4. Register your company name, which must be unique from all other French businesses
  5. Apply for work permits when hiring workers without French citizenship

6 facts about work permits in France

To better understand the work permit process and determine the best course of action for hiring in France, we’ve compiled the top facts to know about France’s requirements.

1. Employers submit applications for work permits

According to French law, employers must apply for work permits before the employee arrives to begin work in the country. Work permit applications must abide by the following regulations:

  • Submission must take place at least three months before the employee start date
  • Employers must attempt to find a domestic employee before hiring internationally
  • Companies must use France’s dedicated platform to apply for work permits

2. Employers must submit key employee documents

When French companies begin working on international employees’ work permit applications, they must collect the relevant required documents. These include:

  • The employee’s passport
  • The employee’s CV or resume
  • Any employee certifications or licenses needed for the position
  • The business’s tax notice excerpt from the commercial register or craft license
  • Evidence of efforts the business has made to hire a domestic employee

3. France issues visas to employees based on their work permit applications

The primary purpose of the work permit application is to facilitate the issuance of work visas for international employees working in France. A French work visa gives international workers explicit permission from the French government to live in the country while they complete their employment contracts.

When employers apply for work permits for foreign employees, the French government will issue the employee one of two visas:

  • Short stay visa for employees working in France for 90 days or less
  • Long stay visa for foreign employees working in France for more than 90 days

By combining the work permit and French visa application processes, France streamlines the legal process for companies hiring internationally, slightly reducing the red tape required for global companies.

4. Different sectors have different work permit requirements

The work permit requirements for foreign employees working for French companies differ based on the company’s specific industry. In addition to national guidelines, you must meet industry-specific criteria to submit a work permit for a non-French employee. Some examples include:

  • Language teachers working in a public education establishment must work for seven months or more.
  • Models or modeling assistants must complete an additional form—the cooperation agreement for foreign models operating in France.
  • Doctors or medical workers must register with the professional order of physicians and must show proof that they plan to return to their home country after one year of French employment.

5. Employers can appeal rejected work permit applications

There’s an important consideration that international employers must make before they begin hiring outside of France—the French government can deny work permit applications (and thus, work visas).

However, France-based employers can appeal the process if they feel their application was unjustly denied.

While foreign employees cannot work in France during the appeals process, their employers may contest rejected work permit applications via three methods:

  1. An informal appeal to the French authorities who rejected the application
  2. A formal appeal to the Minister of the Interior
  3. An action for annulment of the rejection from an administrative court

6. Some employees are exempt from applying for work permits

Under French law, not all foreign national employees need work permits before becoming employed in France. The most common exemptions are:

  • Citizens of the EU or European Economic Area (EEA) are not required to obtain a work permit.
  • Employees working in certain fields for less than 90 days are not required to apply.
  • Employees living outside the EU or EEA, but who are employed remotely by a company established in the EU or EEA, are exempt from applying for a work permit.

However, there are two important elements to note about work permit exemption:

  1. Even if an employee is exempt from filing for a work permit, they may still be subject to other (temporary or permanent) immigration regulations and visa requirements.
  2. Exemptions can be complicated, so employers should be absolutely certain that their potential hire is exempt before offering them an employment contract.

An alternative solution for hiring international workers

France work permit requirements can be difficult to parse, and the process can be time-consuming, with documentation requirements, sector-specific regulations, appeals and much more.

Since employers in France take on the burden of work permit applications on their employees’ behalf, they’re uniquely motivated to streamline or speed up the process. If your company already has a legal presence in France and you want to hire international employees, you can skip the entity establishment and permitting process altogether by using an EOR and hiring them as remote workers in their home countries.

The employer of record, which already has entities in countries around the world, hires workers on your behalf, serving as your international employees’ official employer in their home country, while you manage their day-to-day work. When you partner with an EOR, you not only get a legal way to hire international employees, you also get access to local HR teams to help you navigate employment requirements to ensure compliance, as well as in-country support for your remote workers.

Learn more about how our employer of record solution, Global Employment Outsourcing (GEO), can help you as you evaluate hiring options in France and beyond. Speak with a global solutions advisor today.


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