The virus identified in January 2020 in China is a novel coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2. The illness provoked by this virus has been named COVID-19 by the World Health Organisation (WHO). On 11 March 2020 the WHO qualified the worldwide situation of COVID-19 as a pandemic: the epidemic is global.
Read on for advice specific to foreign nationals in France.
- Travel certificates
- I am a foreign national travelling within a French overseas department or territory. How can I return to my home country?
- I am a foreign national currently in France. My residence permit expired during the confinement period. What should I do?
- I am staying in France with a short-stay visa that is about to expire or has expired. What should I do?
- I requested a short-stay or long-stay visa from a French consulate, what will happen to my request?
- I requested a visa to return to France. I had an appointment. Is this appointment still valid?
- I was granted a visa to travel to France. I haven’t used it because of the border closures. What should I do?
- I am an asylum seeker. I have an appointment with the French Office for Refugees (OFPRA). What should I do?
- I am a foreign student in France. The establishment where I was studying has closed. Should I stay or return home?
- I am a foreign student in France, and I am living in a student residence. Can I stay there?
- I am a national of a European Union country. I am registered for a national competitive exam. Will this competitive exam go ahead?
- I work in France but live in a neighbouring country. Can I continue to go to work?
Declaration for trips over 100km within French territory
This declaration may be downloaded here.
Certificate for international travel and to French overseas territories
In the context of the public health state of emergency in France, access has been restricted to metropolitan France and French overseas communities. All travellers are obliged to fill out and keep on their person the certificate corresponding to their situation:
• Travel from metropolitan France to a French overseas community,
• International travel to metropolitan France,
• International travel to a French overseas community.
This document must be shown to transport providers before boarding and during checks upon arrival.
A special certificate is available for travel to French overseas communities.
More information can be found on the website of the French Ministry of the Interior (also in English).
International road transport
For international road transport of goods, the European Commission’s single employer authorization is sufficient and replaces authorization from the French employer. It is not necessary to be in possession of the certificate for international travel to metropolitan France as set out in the Prime Minister’s instruction of 18 March 2020 regarding the provisions for border controls.
I am a foreign national travelling within a French overseas department or territory. How can I return to my home country?
Home country returns are not subject to any restrictions. If you have to travel more than 100km to get to your departure airport, you must however complete and carry a travel declaration, available here.
I am a foreign national currently in France. My residence permit expired during the confinement period. What should I do?
Due to the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, travel is limited in accordance with the Decree of 20 March 2020
Foreign nationals whose residence permits expired from 16 March onwards are therefore dispensed from the residence permit renewal procedure to prevent them having to leave the house for this reason.
Orders No. 2020-328 of 25 March 2020 and No. 2020-460 of 22 April 2020 therefore extend the duration of validity of documents that would have expired between 16 March 2020 and 15 May 2020 by 6 months. This measure applies to:
• Long-stay visas,
• Residence permits,
• Temporary residence permits,
• Receipts for residence permit requests.
The duration of validity of certificates of request for asylum that would have expired within those same dates (16 March 2020 to 15 May 2020) is extended by 3 months.
This does not apply to short-stay visas (see next question).
I am staying in France with a short-stay visa that is about to expire or has expired. What should I do?
Please contact your embassy as soon as possible to find out how to return to the country where you are normally resident.
Holders of short-stay visas that are about to expire, and nationals exempt from a Schengen Visa who se maximum stay in the Schengen Area is reached or about to be reached, are asked to make contact with the Police Prefecture in the place they are staying which, in cases of justified emergency, may prolong their visa or issue a temporary residence authorization.
While waiting to return to your home country, for all travel of over 100km do not forget to have in your possession the travel declaration (download it here) and your passport.
Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, France has stopped issuing visas until further notice. This decision applies to all visa requests (short-stay Schengen visas, long-stay visas for France, visas for French overseas communities). It also applies to requests already submitted and requests for which appointments had already been made.
Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, France has stopped issuing visas until further notice. This decision applies to all visa requests (short-stay Schengen visas, long-stay visas for France, visas for French overseas communities). This also applies to requests for which appointments had already been made. You will need to book a new appointment to submit your visa request.
I was granted a visa to travel to France. I haven’t used it because of the border closures. What should I do?
If you have a short-stay Schengen visa that you cannot use, you will be able to use a simplified procedure requiring fewer proof documents for a new visa request once France has resumed issuing visas. The new visa shall be issued free of charge.
If you have a long-stay visa that expires between 16 March and 15 May 2020, its validity has been automatically extended by 90 days so that you can return to France once this will be possible again.
I am an asylum seeker. I have an appointment with the French Office for Refugees (OFPRA). What should I do?
- Closure of the general reception
The general reception has been closed since 16 March. No members of the public will be received without an appointment until further notice, even after 11 May.
Those seeking asylum or stateless person status may contact OFPRA only by email at the address indicated on their appointment letter. In the absence of an appointment letter, questions should be sent to communication at ofpra.gouv.fr.
- Closure of reception for those with international protection
The reception for protected persons has been closed since 16 March and will remain so until further notice. No civil status documents can be issued on the OFPRA premises.
Protected persons may however continue to request the issuance of civil status documents (birth/marriage/death certificates) online using the dedicated form on the OFPRA website. Tutorials have been created to help fill in online forms.
Requests for information or additional documents sent by OFPRA to protected persons, the deadline for which expired on or after 16 March, may be fulfilled until 29 May, whatever the date indicated in the OFPRA letter.
Considerable information on the civil status of protected persons or the right to family reunification is available on the OFPRA website.
- Gradual resumption of asylum and stateless person status interviews
From 11 May, appointment letters for asylum or stateless person status interviews will be sent by post or issued in person at the OFPRA offices in French Guiana, by appointment only.
Those requesting asylum or stateless person status whose interviews were cancelled before 11 May will receive a new appointment later.
Applicants sent an appointment for an interview at OFPRA are asked to come without their children and to comply with the preventive measures put in place by OFPRA to protect their health and that of others (temperature checks, handwashing, distance of at least a metre between people in queues and waiting rooms, etc.). The presence of any third parties at an interview must be notified to OFPRA at least 48 hours in advance so that organizational steps can be taken.
- Submitting an asylum application to OFPRA
Asylum seekers who need to submit an application to OFPRA are invited to do so as usual (by post only).
Order 2020-306 of 25 March 2020 set down timeframes for certain procedures that had to be completed between 12 March and one month after the end of the health state of emergency. As such, in accordance with Article 2 of the Order, asylum applications that should have been submitted to OFPRA during this period may be duly submitted until the end of the initial timeframe, counting from the end of this period.
In practice, Article 4 of Act 2020-290 of 23 March 2020, which took effect on 24 March, declared the health state of emergency for two months, until 24 May 2020. Under current law, the new deadline for submission will therefore run from 24 June 2020.
Applicants should however be aware that this date may be brought forward or pushed back based on decisions taken on the health state of emergency. In that case, OFPRA will publish information on its website for asylum seekers.
Given the situation, it is possible that the delivery of the submission letter may be suspended or delayed. In any case, OFPRA will strive to carry out the computerized registration required to note the submission and enable the payment of allowances for asylum seekers.
- Notification of OFPRA decisions
Because of the closure of some post offices, ongoing notifications of OFPRA decisions taken before 16 March may be disrupted. These circumstances will be taken into account by OFPRA to carry out new notifications after the health state of emergency, where required.
- Requests for access to OFPRA files
Asylum seekers and protected persons who wish to access their administrative asylum application files may do so by sending an email to the following address: comacces at ofpra.gouv.fr.
This information will be updated on the OFPRA website
I am a foreign student in France. The establishment where I was studying has closed. Should I stay or return home?
Although universities are closed, international students can remain in France. Students who were staying in university halls of residence may have been asked to leave before the confinement period. Wherever possible, international students who are still in France are requested to contact their consular authorities to help them decide what to do. Students will still be entitled to healthcare and, where relevant, to remain in university halls of residence during their stay in France.
Campus France will ensure that international scholarship students who wish to return to their countries can do so, when they are managed by said agency.
International students on training courses in France whose residence permits will soon expire will have their permits automatically extended by three months by the French government. Residence permits, receipts and long-stay visas due to expire between 16 March and 15 May 2020, which had already been extended by three months, will be extended by a further three months. Further information is available on the Campus France website.
I am a foreign student in France. Are classes finished?
All French higher education establishments are closed from Monday, 16 March following the decision of the President of the French Republic and until further notice.
During this period, teaching continues in formats appropriate for this unprecedented situation.
You are strongly advised to remain in contact with your education establishment and pay attention to the information sent by email, posted on establishment websites and on their official social media.
For the latest information, click here.
I am a national of a European Union country. I am registered for a national competitive exam. Will this competitive exam go ahead?
External competitive recruitment exams that have started will be continued until the end of the process. From June, admission exams will take place in strict accordance with sanitary rules. As necessary, and insofar as is possible, videoconferences will be preferred.
External competitive recruitment exams that not started are reorganized. Admission tests will take place in June and July and will consist only of the written examinations. These will be taken following a strict sanitary framework.
From September, the probationary civil servants will benefit from a reinforced support and from the visit of an inspector to take stock. In Spring 2021, the titularisation procedure will include an oral examination to be defined in the coming weeks.
Furthermore, all internal recruitment examinations that have not yet taken place will be rescheduled from September. Each candidate is informed individually of the new procedures.
In the coming weeks a more precise examination calendar will be issued.
More information on the website of the Ministry for Education (in French).
I am employed in France. What precautions should I take when carrying out my work?
You should follow the health recommendations available on the government website
The French Labour Code provides that the employer must take the necessary steps “to ensure the safety and protect the physical and mental health of workers” (Article L. 4121-1). The employer therefore has the right to take restrictive measures to ensure the health of their staff after assessing the risk of contamination in the business.
Furthermore, under Article L. 4122-1 of the Labour Code “in accordance with the instructions given by the employer, each worker should take care, in accordance with their training and as far as they are able, of their health and safety as well as that of other people concerned by their actions or omissions in the workplace.”
• You must comply with the instructions given to you by your employer according to the situation in your company and your own situation;
• You must ensure your own security and that of your colleagues while respecting the health advice given.
For the latest information, click here.
The rules for issuing work permits have been simplified.
As regards seasonal workers:
- Ongoing contracts for which work permits have already been given may be renewed. To do this, the employer must send an email to the DIRECCTE for their local area with the following: A copy of the contract renewal, the work permit and seasonal residence permit of the employee, instead of the AT request form.
- For contracts with a new employer, requests for work permits should be sent in digital format to the DIRECCTE with sheet 1 of the CERFA 15196*03 filled in, without the other proof documents.
- New recruitments (first work contract giving access to the “seasonal worker” residence permit) have been suspended at this time.
The same simplifications apply to all other situations requiring temporary work permits:
- For students working more than 964 hours per year and asylum seekers with proof of asylum request older than 6 months, temporary work permits that have already been issued may be extended by 3 months. For this to take place, the employer must send by email to the DIRECCTE a copy: of the work contract renewal, the residence permit (or proof of asylum request) and the temporary work permit obtained for the initial contract;
- Temporary workers whose work contract is reaching expiry and whose residence permit has been extended by three months, may have their initial work permit extended for a maximum of 3 months, following the same procedure as for temporary work permits above,
- Nationals already present in France, holding a residence permit that does not allow them to work, may sign a work contract of 3 months maximum. The employer must request a work permit using the same simplified procedure.
Regarding foreign doctors:
- Associate practitioners and specialised assistants whose residence permit was due to expire between 16 March and 15 May and has been extended may have their contracts extended by 3 months using the same procedure as for temporary work permits above.
- The same shall apply to individuals fulfilling the role of an “interne” (FFI).
- Associated interns: 3-month extensions for permits expiring between 16 March and 15 May mean you may continue to work as long as your internship does not last longer than a total of 24 months and 12 months in the same establishment.
I am a foreign employer in France. What should I do to ensure the health and safety of my staff?
The epidemic requires us to be particularly vigilant in the interest of staff and businesses. The presence of employees necessary for the functioning of the business will largely depend on the businesses’ ability to assuage the concerns of employees and ensure that they are correctly protected from the specific risks relating to the virus (particularly employees in contact with the public).
The Labour Code requires the employer to take the necessary steps to ensure the health and safety of their personnel. It must therefore carry out a job risk assessment. This assessment must be carried out again due to the epidemic to reduce the risk as much as possible of contamination at work or taking measures such as preventative actions and information and training campaigns as well as roll-out of workplace adaptations, in accordance with government instructions.
The Ministry of Labour has issued a leaflet for employers to provide information in the context of COVID-19
For the latest information, click here
The Prime Minister’s general instructions apply to cross-border workers. Cross-border workers in jobs that cannot be carried out from home may travel to their place of work. They will be authorized to cross the border. Specific measures have been taken to facilitate border crossings.
For each border crossing, cross-border workers must present their certificates for international travel as well as authorization from their employer.
More generally, work contracts are continued and cross-border workers benefit from those rights and protection that this entails, just like any worker.
For more information, click here
The certificates for international travel are available on the website of the French Ministry of the Interior