Citizens of EU/EEA countries (European Union, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway) don't need a work permit to hold a job, be self-employed or create a business in France.
Note: Citizens of Croatia will require a permit to work in France until 30 June 2020, unless they are planning to work on a self-employed/freelance basis.
All non-EU/EAA nationals need both a work and a residency permit. These are applied for at the same time, as they are interdependent. The permit type required depends on the planned activity and whether you ask for a temporary or long-term work permit. However, you need to find a job before you can obtain your work permit, as the company has to organise the work contract.
How it works
The company wishing to employ you should send the position to the Employment Office. If the work contract is approved here, it will be sent to the Office Francais de l’Immigration et de l'Integration (OFII), where it needs to be checked and approved again. Once the contract is confirmed by this office, it is directly sent to the appropriate French Consulate or embassy in the country of origin, where the visa can be issued.
To obtain the permit, the applicant will be invited for an appointment (at the embassy in his home country), in which he has to appear in person to apply and to show his temporary residence permit, passport and other important documentation with regard to his profession.
If the decision is negative, the company will be informed about the decision and its reasons. For some professions this process is much easier, such as for scientific or information technology experts! If the decision is positive, you have to register with the OFII and if necessary undergo a medical, and you start working.
If you have a temporary resident permit that does not give you the right to work (fulltime), you can apply for a change of status (for example from student to employee). Apply directly at your local préfecture (service des étrangers).
Types of work permits
Work permits (Autorisation de travail)have various forms. They may be issued as residency permits, giving the right to work in France or issued as a specific work permit (in this case accompanied by your passport and/or visa). Click here to download the application form for a French work permit.
If you hold a permanent resident permit (carte de résident, CR) in France, you have the right to work in France.
If you hold a provisional stay permit (autorisation provisoire de séjour, APS) or short-stay visa (visa court séjour), you have to apply for permission to work (autorisation de travail). If successful, you will receive one of the following:
- Temporary residency permit (carte de séjour temporaire, CST) specifying the type of work permitted, such as 'employee' (activité salariée), 'self-employed' (activité non salariée), 'scientific' (scientifique), 'cultural and artistic profession' (profession artistique et culturelle) or 'trader' (commerçant), as well as where you can do it (e.g. France métropole, Ile-de-France, etc.)
- Temporary work permit (ATP, Autorisation provisoire de travail). This applies to certain cases, e.g. where the employee remains on the payroll of an overseas company (i.e. Detaché status)
- Seasonal work contract (contrat de travail saisonnier) which will define the type of work, its location and validity.
The temporary resident permits with the status 'private or family purposes' (vie privée et familiale) gives, in most cases, the right to work everywhere in France without limitations (there are some exceptions, such as for nationals of Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco), while the status 'visitor' (visiteur) does not give the right to work and you have to make a separate application for a work permit.
For more detailed information on the different types of permits and to know which one applies to you (for non EU citizens), click here to access the official website.