Who needs a visa?

Holders of an EEA (EU Member States, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Swiss passport do not require a Visa and have no limitations to travel, or to stay in France for a short term (maximum of 3 months).

EU/EEA nationals do not require a Work Permit.  However, if they wish to stay for longer than 3 months, they should register with their local police station.

Some nationals do not require a visa for a short term stay in France.

Please contact our Global Immigration team for further advice.

Business Visa

Individuals who hold a Business Visa, are not permitted to work whilst in France but can attend meetings and conferences.

Type of Visa

Business visitors normally apply for the Schengen Type C Visa.

Application Process

All applications need to be submitted to the appropriate authority or French Consulate in the applicant’s country of residence. In most cases, applications can be lodged by a third party.  However, all applicants must attend the appropriate authority for the taking of biometrics.

Processing time

The processing time for a Schengen Business Visa does vary depending upon the nationality of the applicant.  Business Visa applications submitted in the UK are generally issued within 3 to 15 working days.


In most cases, validity will vary depending upon the nationality of the applicant, nature of the visit and length of stay in France.  Visas can be valid for the intended trip only, or for periods of 3, 6 or 12 months.

Work Authorisation

There are a number of different types of Work Authorisation, which are dependent upon the nature of the role to be carried out whilst in France and the specifics of the company to be visited in France.  Details of some of the available categories can be found below.

All French Work Authorisation applications are processed by the local Direction Departmentale du Travail, de L’Emploi et de la Formation Professionale (DDTEFP) on a town by town basis. It is therefore often impossible to provide absolute accurate processing times, as they vary depending on the workload of the local office.

Type of Visa

The following provides details of some of the Work Authorisation categories available:

  • New Hires
  • Intra Company Transfers
  • Competences Et Talents
  • Salarie En Mission Permits

There are a number of different types of Work Authorisations available, and the application process varies.  The application process for a commonly favoured category can be found below:

Application Process – Intra Company Transfers

  1. In order to obtain a Work Authorisation for a Work Permit, an official form of application needs to be made to the Local Labour Authority and French Immigration Authority in the appropriate jurisdictional area.  This is commonly known as an application for Work Permit Approval.
  1. After approval has been granted, the French Consulate in the applicant’s country of residence will be notified accordingly. The applicant will need to submit his/her Long Stay Work Visa application to the French Consulate.
  1. An immigration medical is mandatory, which is carried out in France after arrival, upon provision of the Work Permit approval and Work Visa.
  1. The final step is the application for the Residence Permit also known as Carte De Séjour.


Processing time

Processing times for a full Work Authorisation application tends to vary and change without notice.

However, the following are approximate guidelines:

Work Permit application                         3 to 12 weeks

Long Stay Visa application                     3 to 15 working days

Medical examination                              1 working day

Residence Permit application                  6 to 8 weeks


The period of validity is dependent on the type of Visa and Work Authorisation.  Short term Work Permits can be valid for up to 90 days, others can be valid up to 1 year.


When applying for a Work Authorisation, the names of the accompanying spouse and children under 18 years of age must be included on the worker file to avoid any complications.

For EU nationals obtaining a ‘Séjour’, this Residency Permit can be extended to include spouse, dependant descendants under 21 years of age and dependant ascendants of both permit holder and permit holder’s spouse.

Unmarried partners will need to apply for their own applicable permit as they cannot receive dependant status.

Penalties for Non Compliance

If the employer breaches the immigration rules, the appropriate Prefecture can impose a number of sanctions including but not limited to:

  • Prevent the employer from sponsoring or nominating any employees for a specified period of time.
  • Cancel the business sponsorship agreement.
  • Cancel the visas of any employees and their accompanying family members.
  • Consider previous non-compliance when assessing any future sponsorship applications made by the employer or by any other business operated by the same principals.
  • Impose a financial penalty.


If the foreign worker breaches the immigration rules their Visa may be cancelled and they will be compelled to leave France.  Longer term Work Visas are issued for specified roles rather than on a general basis.  A change of employer will require a new Visa application.

Areas of Concern

  • The employee must meet the minimum salary and qualification criteria for specific offers of employment.
  • Absence of a degree or applicable work experience may cause difficulties.
  • Dependents are likely to be required to provide proof of basic French language skills.
  • Minimum terms of employment with the home company often apply.
  • Change of status in country is not normally possible within the first year.

The contents of this article are for information purposes only.  The information and opinions expressed in this document do not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for legal advice or a comprehensive statement of law or current practice.  Immigration rules and requirements frequently change without notice.  You should not rely upon the contents of this document but instead should seek appropriate professional and legal advice in the light of your personal circumstances.  No liability is accepted for the opinions contained or for any errors or commissions. Please contact our Global Immigration Team for further information.