Employing a foreign worker without a valid visa or permit for paid employment requires a special work authorization. The employer, located in France or abroad, is responsible for submitting a work permit application.

Before applying, the employer must have searched for a candidate in the French labour market with the help of government agencies (such as Apec and Pôle Emploi) or private companies.

Before submitting a job application, employment levels must be checked before hiring a possible employee, the business must have attempted to recruit a candidate already on the French labour market with the assistance of government authorities. The employer must submit the job offer within three weeks to an Apec or Pôle Emploi office.

After completing this step, or if it is not necessary, the employer can apply for a work permit on the designated platform.

Foreign nationals who acquire a work permit must still apply for an entry visa and a residence permit granting the right to dwell in France.

Residents of the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland are unaffected; they can live and work in France and enjoy free movement within the European territory.

How to apply

Employing foreign workers requires the online submission of work permit applications through a dedicated site.

  1. If employment levels must be verified before hiring the potential employee (see below), the company must post the position for three weeks in a public employment agency (Pôle Emploi or Apec) before filing a work visa application.
  2. Apply for a work permit via the appropriate online portal.
  3. An email confirming the submission of the application.
  4. If the work permit application is successful, it will be sent to the employer and foreign worker by email.
  5. The potential employee must submit the work permit along with their visa and residence permit application.

As of 1 April 2021, the Ministry of the Interior became responsible for overseeing foreign workers. The Directorate previously carried out this duty.

When evaluating whether to provide a work permit, the competent service considers the following:

  • Employment rates in the applicable profession and region.
  • The extent to which the foreign national’s skills, experience, and qualifications match the criteria of the position.
  • Employer compliance with employment and social protection regulations.
  • Compliance with regulatory limits regulating the position in question, if relevant.
  • The foreign national’s terms of employment and salary must be comparable to those provided to employees of the company (or occupational sector) in comparable positions.
  • The anticipated compensation must meet or above the statutory national minimum wage (SMIC; €19,747 as of 1 May 2022).
  • Arrangements made by the employer to ensure that the foreign national entering France has access to stable housing.

After electronically submitting the application via the specified platform, the applicant will receive submission confirmation. The applicant will receive an electronic work permit after the application is validated.

This authorisation must be submitted when applying for a visa at the consulate or a residence permit at the Prefecture.

Employment levels as a disqualifying factor

Based on employment levels, work permits may be denied to foreign nationals. Competent authorities may deny applications for work permits by non-citizens based on employment levels.

Specific jobs are categorized as being under scrutiny, characterized by recruiting challenges, for which there is no work situation opposability, based on the employment region. This page contains a simulator for determining whether employment levels must be evaluated before hiring an employee.

Bilateral agreements

This list now includes vocations that cause difficulty for foreign nationals from countries that have signed a migration agreement with France. The clauses of these agreements are intended to ease the professional mobility of foreign nationals among signatory nations. On the Department of the Interior website, you will find additional information regarding the terms of these agreements.

The following employees/events are exempt from the work permit requirement:

  • Citizens of a European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland member state
  • Non-citizens working legally and customarily for an employer established in an EU or EEA Member State or Switzerland in the provision of a service, subject to proof of a residence permit issued by the European State allowing work in this State.
  • For positions of three months or less, foreign employees who are nationals of a third country and who are coming to France to work in one of the following fields:

a) Sporting, creative, cultural, and academic events
b) Conferences, seminars, and industry trade shows
c) Production and distribution of audio-visual and cinematic works, recordings, and presentations
d) Modelling and posing creatively
e) Personal service and domestic workers employed in France during their employers’ stays
f) Auditing and consulting services in the areas of information technology, management, finance, insurance, architecture, and engineering under a service agreement or intra-company transfer agreement
g) Occasional Instruction by invited lecturers

    Effects of Brexit on UK Nationals

    The Brexit transition period concluded on 31 December 2020. Citizens of the United Kingdom must now apply for a work visa, depending on their position and date of entry into France.

    The employer is required apply for a work permit at least three months before the employee’s start date.

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