Finding a job in Paris is not easy. In the past 30 years, there has been a virtual freeze on the hiring of nationals of all countries other than citizens of the European Union. Unemployment in France is currently at about 10% (over 3 million people in mainland France), and French laws and regulations governing immigration and employment in France are strictly enforced. For example, the Government of France may not approve any request for a job paying less than 3,835 Euro a month (gross) unless your specialty is in great demand in France.
There are really only two categories of foreigners in France who are free to be legally employed:
- Bearers of a carte de résident who have resided in France in that category for at least ten years and spouses of French citizens
- Highly skilled technicians and qualified managerial (cadre) personnel
Some students can qualify for part-time au-pair employment, and other students can qualify for part-time or summer employment. With a student visa one is normally permitted to work up to 20 hours per week. There are also some voluntary collective work programs, however visas for any of these jobs must be obtained before entering France.
European regulations specify the list of countries whose nationals are exempt from visa requirement to enter the Schengen Area. Exempt from visa requirement for France’s territory in Europe are :
- citizens of the EU, the EEA and Switzerland
- nationals of the following countries, whatever the reason for their stay: Albania *, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina *, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Malaysia, Mauritius, Monaco, Nicaragua , New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Holy See, Seychelles, Taiwan (passport bearing identity card number), Uruguay, Montenegro*, FYROM* and Serbia* ;
- nationals of the following countries: Australia, Brazil, USA, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea Venezuela. If you are gainfully employed, the exemption only applies if you can produce a work permit ;
- holders of a valid residence permit for France ;
- holders of a residence permit issued by a state applying the Schengen Agreements ;
- holders of certain travel documents issued by an EU Member State ;
- holders of a British National (Overseas) passport.
*bearers of biometric passports only
Citizens of these countries can stay for up to 3 months (90 days) without a visa.
Non EU-nationals planning to stay in France for more than 3 months, or for purposes other than tourism, must have the appropriate long-stay visa (visa de long séjour) in their passports upon arrival in France. It is obligatory to apply for the visa in your home country at the French Consulate having jurisdiction where you live. It is not possible to arrive in France as a tourist and then change status to that of a worker, a student or a resident. The French authorities require such individuals to return to their home country to apply for the appropriate visa.
Those foreigners, who do manage to find a prospective employer in France, or in their home country for employment in France, must rely on the employer for the initial and essential step of obtaining the authorization from the French Ministry of Labor. This authorization document, if the contract is approved, is a prerequisite for obtaining the long-stay visa that would be issued by a French Consul in the home country. In Paris, the employer must contact:
Ministry of Labor, Service de la Main d’Oeuvre Etrangère
127 boulevard de la Villette, 75010 Paris / Tel: 01 44 84 42 86
Métro: Jaurès or Stalingrad
Hours: 9 a.m – 11:30 a.m. / 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
If and when the Ministry has approved the contract, it is forwarded to the Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration (OFII) 44, rue Bargue 75732 Paris, tél: 01-53-69-53-70, for transmission to the appropriate French Consulate. The OFII. charges the employer a fee for this service. The French Consulate will notify the applicant who can then proceed with visa formalities. It is important to remember that potential employees must inform their prospective employers as to which French Consulate they will apply for a visa so that the transmission from the OFFI can be sent to the correct office. After the visa has been issued and the foreigner enters France, he/she must apply at the Préfecture de Police, in Paris or at the local Préfecture elsewhere, for a carte de séjour within 8 days of arrival in France.
A few useful websites:
- http://www.paris.fr – The official site of the Paris city hall (mairie). There is an English-language version.
- http://www.prefecture-police-paris.interieur.gouv.fr – The website for the Préfecture de Police in Paris with official information in French on where and how to obtain or renew cartes de séjour, driver’s licenses, etc.
- http://www.service-public.fr/langue/english – Official information in English on French laws and regulations for almost every aspect of daily life: immigration, education, employment, healthcare, retirement, family benefits, driving, etc.
- http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/coming-to-france – This governmental website provides offical information on visas and entry into France in 5 languages, including English.