Conditions necessary for a foreigner to be able to work in France
A distinction must be made between (1) the rules applicable to citizens of the European Union, of the European Economic Area and of Switzerland and (2) those applicable to third States.
1. Working in France for citizens of the European Union, of the European Economic Area (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and of Switzerland
a. Principle of the freedom to work
No residence or work permit is required in order for a foreign national of an EU / EEA Member State or of Switzerland to work in France. In the EU countries, the principle of the freedom of movement for workers entails the right to reside and work. These persons must have a currently valid ID card or passport to be able to evidence their status.
This means that employers can hire such employees without having to carry out any formalities other than those required by the ordinary rules of law.
b. Exception: Croatia
New members of the European Union are subject to a transitional regime, as was the case for Bulgaria and Romania until 31 December 2013.
Croatian nationals must, like nationals of third States, have a currently valid work permit as well as a medical certificate. Nonetheless, Croatian nationals who apply for a work permit for so-called “shortage” occupations (e.g., in the hotel, restaurant, construction, public works and agriculture sectors) cannot be denied authorization on the basis of the local employment situation.
In addition, Croatian citizens who are recent graduates with a degree equivalent to “bac + 5” (French high school diploma plus 5 years of higher education) are not subject to the French work permit procedure.
2. Working in France for nationals of third States
In order to work as an employee in France, nationals of third States must obtain both a residence permit and a work authorization.
European and Swiss workers, nationals of Monaco, Andorra and San Marin, as well as seconded non-European employees working for a European service provider (provided that the employee holds a work authorization issued by the country where his/her employer is established), are exempt from the work permit requirement.
Certain residence permits automatically entitle the foreigner to work in France, particularly:
- The residence card, which is valid for a 10-year period and is automatically renewable. It constitutes an authorization to reside and work in France, whatever the occupation or geographic area;
- The “student” residence card, which allows the foreigner to engage in work within the limit of 60% of the annual working time.
Other residence permits require that the employer submit a work permit application, particularly:
- The temporary residence card bearing the word “employee,” valid for one year, issued upon presentation of an employment contract having a term of 12 months or more;
- The residence card bearing the words “temporary worker,” issued upon presentation of an employment contract having a term of 12 months or less;
- The residence card bearing the words “seasonal worker,” where the duration of the employment is no more than 6 months per year. This card is valid for 3 years (renewable).
- The residence card bearing the words “employee on assignment,” for employees seconded for at least 3 months in France as part of intra-group mobility, receiving a compensation of at least 1.5 times the French minimum wage. This card is valid for 3 years (renewable).
- The residence card bearing the words “European blue card,” for foreign nationals who have a high-skill job (the interested party must have a diploma equivalent to at least 3 years of university study or at least 5 years of comparable experience. The employment contract must be for a term of at least 12 months and the annual gross compensation must be equal to at least 1.5 times the reference average annual salary).
There are other residence cards that allow the card-holder holder to work in France, such as the temporary residence cards for “scientists-researchers,” “private and family life,” “artistic and cultural professions” or “skills and talents.”
Where the residence permit does not entitle the holder to work in France, a work permit application procedure must be carried out, which varies depending on whether the foreigner is already residing in France or resides outside of France.
For foreigners who do not reside in France, it is up to the employer to file the work permit application with the competent local unit of the DIRECCTE (French employment administration).
When examining the application, the administration will verify the employment situation in the relevant occupation and labor pool, taking into account any specific characteristics of the job and the search conducted by the employer to recruit job seekers. The administration may then deny the permit if the unemployment level is too high for that occupation in the relevant labor pool. In certain cases, the employment situation is disregarded, such as for “shortage occupations,” for jobs appearing on a special list, for seconded employees who can obtain an “employee on assignment” residence card, and for highly skilled workers who request a “European blue card” residence card.
In cases where the employment situation can be a potential grounds for denial, the administration will examine the foreigner’s qualifications and the skills sought, the working conditions and the compensation offered, regulatory compliance (particularly in the area of social protection) and the foreigner’s housing conditions.
If the work permit application is granted, the DIRECCTE will then transfer the file to the relevant agency of the OFII (French immigration and integration office), which is in charge of arranging for the mandatory medical examination to be conducted no later than three months after issuance of the work permit.
Employing a foreigner who is not in valid status is subject to heavy civil and criminal penalties.
Find a job in France now and visit APEC’s website (Association for Executives’ Employment) : www.apec.fr