France welcomes international talent (November 14, 2013)

For several years now, the French authorities have had special procedures in place for foreign citizens who wish to run a company, engage in highly skilled employment in France or work in a French subsidiary of their group. Foreign nationals working in France therefore benefit from a very attractive regime.

Unprecedented facilities for international transfers

  • The "Skills and Expertise" residence permit ("carte compétences et talents") is a temporary permit, valid for up to three years at a time on a renewable basis, enabling the holder to perform a salaried or business activity in France (source: ambafrance-in.org).
"The whole procedure was amazingly fast for an official application […]. Compared to the first residence permit that my wife and I obtained in 1996, it was a much quicker and easier process." Jeremy Leven, an American producer who received one of the first “Skills and Expertise” residence permits in January 2008
  • The "Expatriate Employee" residence permit (carte de séjour "salarié en mission"):

This three-year renewable residence permit is specifically designed for intra-group job transfers. Subject to certain conditions, it is available to employees on assignment to, or employed under contract by, subsidiaries in France.

These two residence permits offer advantages for any accompanying family members (partner, child), who are fully entitled to the "private and family life" residence permit (also valid for three years), and who are authorized to seek employment.

Cutting red tape for international workers

  • Foreign nationals from EU countries (including new member states) or the non-EU countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who wish to create a company in France do not have to follow any specific procedures.
  • Non-resident executives (e.g. a businessperson living abroad and running a company in France) need only complete a straightforward declaration to the local préfet [state representative] of the department prior to starting up. Applications will be handled within a fortnight at most.
  • Foreign resident executives who wish to start up in France, and who already reside in France, may benefit from certain provisions of the “Skills and Expertise” residence permit, valid for up to three years at a time on a renewable basis (source: ambafrance-nl).
  • A single contact point for “Skills and Expertise”and “Expatriate Employee” residence permit holders - the Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration (OFII) - was set up in 2011 in eight departments. The OFII also acts as a one-stop shop for employers regarding all immigration formalities (work permits, medical examinations and residence permits) (source: Invest in France).

A leading country for attracting foreign students

  • France hosted the fifth largest foreign student population in 2011 (OECD) with around 285,000 foreigners studying in France in 2011 (source: Campus France, MESR-DGESIP-DGRI-SIES, 2012).
  • The temporary student residence permit gives holders the chance to carry out a secondary professional activity, working up to 60% of a full-time year (i.e. 964 hours). No additional work permit is required.
  • Students holding a qualification at least equivalent to a master’s degree may, once their “student” temporary residence permit expires, be eligible for a six-month temporary residence permit allowing them to work in a job related to their studies in France and receive remuneration at least 50% greater than the minimum wage in France, i.e. €1,980 gross as of 1 July 2008 (source: Invest In France).
  • To encourage the presence of foreign students and researchers in our higher education establishments, France has taken several steps in recent years:
  • Creation of a National Research Agency with a view to increasing the number of research projects:
  • Creation of PRES (research and higher education clusters) which enable universities, grandes écoles and research organizations to pool resources and activities;
  • Increased autonomy of universities, which can create foundations for private fundraising;
  • CampusFrance is the French operational structure dedicated to promoting international mobility. Present in over 100 foreign countries, CampusFrance centres work together with French higher education establishments under the auspices of French embassies abroad;
  • In 1999 the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs launched the Eiffel Excellence Scholarship Programme, which makes it possible to finance either a master’s level course or a 10-month study period abroad as part of a joint thesis supervision arrangement. By 2007, Eiffel had awarded scholarships of excellence to 4,163 master’s students from a pool of more than 13,000 applicants and to 365 doctoral students from 1,279 applicants. Current recipients include 400 master’s students and 70 doctoral students. The programme is unanimously recognized as contributing to the attractiveness of France
  • A circular was adopted on 31 May 2012 which strengthens equal opportunities on French territory, facilitates procedures for students and responds to their request for a change of status. From now on, the strict deadline must not exceed two months (source: French Foreign Ministry).

Protecting international workers

  • France is one of the best-connected countries for bilateral social security agreements, with 40 bilateral agreements, notably with India since 2011 and with South Korea and Japan since 2007. Even in the absence of a bilateral agreement, the Economic Modernization Act of 4 August 2008 grants temporarily assigned employees a three-year exemption from retirement contributions, subject to certain conditions (source: Invest in France).

Source : french embassy in UK’s website

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