French immigration laws are complex and confusing for most people. On our site we have tried to give an overview of the most important legal aspects you need to consider. Due to the complexity of the French legislation, which is constantly changing, we cannot provide detailed information for every situation. However, we hope this guide will be helpful to get you started working out what you need to do.
When coming to live in France, you will probably need to go through the process in the following order (each step requires documentation from previous one), although there are some exceptions:
Visas: EU/EEA citizens (i.e. all 28 European Union member countries, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway), Swiss nationals and some other nationalities do not need a visa to enter France. If you do need a long-term visa, you have to apply for it in your home country (visas are never issued in France). Visa applications take some time and the type of visa will affect your residency rights, so choose accordingly. For further information see our chapter on visas.
Residence permits: Within 3 months, any stay in French territory is considered as residency and you should officially obtain a residence permit. EU/EEA nationals do not need a residency permit, but it is still very useful for longer stays. Contrary to visas, the residency permits are never issued outside France. For further information see our chapter on residence permits.
Work permit: This can be a separate document, but in many cases, it will be a residency permit which will specify that you can work in France. Citizens of most EU/EEA countries do not need a work permit to work in France. For further information see our chapter on work permits.