Pre-Brexit many UK citizens took for granted (or likely didn’t even think about) moving freely between European countries. Since Brexit, job availability, visa applicability and even those just after a long holiday have been monumentally impacted.
There’s no way we could cram explaining all of those impacts into one blog. We’ll be going into more detail in due course about the different impacts of Brexit to different audiences. Today, we’re specifically talking to those who are looking to work in the French Alps, but who don’t have an EU passport - and no Irish grandparents to call on for nationality help! This information is specifically for those who want to work in France or visit for more than 90 days.
You may be surprised to know that getting hold of a French visa isn’t particularly difficult. What can be difficult is just making sure you know which to apply for, how to apply for it, and when the best time is to apply…
Which French Work Visa do I need?
Good question. There are multiple options for you to consider as a non-EU national wanting to work in the French Alps …
1. A seasonaire visa and work permit
This visa is for those who want to work a ski season. You’ll be employed and working as an employee for a French company (or an English company with a French branch). They’ll sponsor you and organise for your visa for the duration of the required work time - likely between December and April. These kinds of jobs are typically hospitality based, working in local buzzy pubs, bars and hotels. If you only want to work seasons in France, the seasonaire permit allows you to work 6 months of the year in France whilst maintaining your UK residency.
2. You’re self-employed and planning a long-term stay in the Alps
Visa ‘entrepreneur’ is for the self-employed individuals looking to work for themselves and stay working in the Alps for an extended period of time. For this visa, you’ll need to apply for a long-stay visa and the process can be a little tricky. In most cases, it involves submitting a business plan and financial projections in order for your visa to be considered and granted. Once you get your visa, you’ll be registered under the statement “entrepreneur/profession libérale”, which essentially means you’re self-employed in a regulated profession.
3. Working remotely for a UK based company
Working remotely abroad on an ad hoc basis does not currently require any particular formality, except for the employer's agreement. The law and the social regime of the country of origin would remain applicable, although this application is not clearly provided for in the texts. However if it is on a regular basis, this becomes a lot more complicated.
There is currently no “digital nomad” visa type as can be found in other countries, and if you will be working from France you will need to put into place the correct structure to abide by their social security regime. Note that this process does differ slightly if you are employed or self employed.
4. You’re a traveling musician
Musicians are the exception to the rule that you cannot work in Europe without a work permit. Without a long stay visa, musicians are allowed their 90/180 day Schengen travel as with any other person, however they are in fact allowed to perform during this time without a work permit due to the Schengen waiver. Take a look here for more details specifically on the rules for musicians working in France without a visa. If however, you want to perform in France for over 3 months, you must apply for a visa as with any other work situation.
5. A talent passport
Yep - this literally is what it sounds like. If your activity contributes to France’s economic attractiveness, you can actually apply for what’s called a “talent-passport.” This authorises you to stay in France for the duration of your whatever project you’re embarking on, for an initial four-year period.
You can even be accompanied by your family upon your arrival in France and they’ll be issued with a residence permit authorising them to work for the same time period. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well it’s not and it’s real. Click here for more information on the talent passport and see if you may be eligible.
Don’t worry, you can change your visa type once you’re in France if your activity changes. This just needs to be done at your local prefecture.
6. You want to live and work in France without limitation
Your best option if you want to live and work in France without restriction is to apply for a long stay visa worth residency (VLS/TS). This visa type means you can work and live in France and have the same access to healthcare than a French resident. This is the best option if you're wanting to move to France permanently and don't want to be limited to just 'visiting' France.
How Do I Apply For A French Work Visa?
The process starts with an online application on the French visa website. Here you’ll need to provide information about your upcoming trip. The supporting documentation will change per application, but it’s likely to include things like…
When you plan to go;
For how long;
What are you doing there;
Where will you be staying;
How will you finance it;
Have you ever had a visa before; and,
Whether you have family in France.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll be prompted to book your appointment with your selected TLS office - which will be in either London, Manchester or Edinburgh in the UK. If you’re wondering what the TLS office is - it’s simply an office that is in charge of processing the visa applications and vetting them before they are finally validated by the Consulate.
If you’ve googled TLS and multiple websites are coming up - no, you’re not going crazy. There are helpfully different websites for each TLS office site, so make sure you create your account on the right one or you’ll have to go through a rather painful process of deleting it before being able to book at the correct centre.
If you fit into the category of working in France for yourself, or being sponsored by a French company during your season or whilst you’re living in France, you’ll need a pre-validated work permit as part of your supporting documentation to take with you to your TLS appointment. Of course, as typically French as ever, you’ll need to apply for this on a separate website (AEF website). If you’re working for a French company, check with your employer whether it’s your responsibility to do this or whether they’ll complete this step for you. Please note that this step takes roughly 3 weeks to process. Like with anything French administration related - timing is everything.
When Should I Apply?
The general guideline is that you apply three months before your intended departure to France. With that being said, there’s nothing to say you can’t prepare your application sooner. Like with most things in life - the more prepared you are, typically the better the outcome. Please also bear in mind that over the month of August the French working world has a long, sleepy summer break - so if you’re planning your application over this time there may be a slight delay to the normal time frames.
If you’re planning to apply and then jet away elsewhere on holiday - think again. You’ll have to leave your passport with the TLS office whilst the application is processed, and it will be returned with your visa safely inside. This means you’ll need to book your appointment at a time when you won’t require your passport for roughly a month. Don’t worry, once you’ve got your visa ensconced in your passport, you can come and go through France easily with no impact on your visa or schengen time.
You’ll need to validate your visa within 3 months of arriving in France if you’re on a renewable visa.
If you change jobs during the season whilst on a working visa, your visa remains valid but the new employer must obtain a new work permit for you.
The price varies on your visa type. For an 'entrepreneur' visa, the visa will cost you 99€. The TLS appointment is approximately 35€ bringing your total visa cost up to approximately 140€. You'll then have to pay the tourist tax, which depends on the length of your stay. To make sure you get it right the first time and avoid multiple charges on appointments and time wasted due to incorrect documentation provided, we can help. Just give our personal administration expert Viv a call to discuss this further. We can help guide you through the process, answer your questions, check your documents, book your meeting and make sure everything is in order.
Hopefully you now feel a little bit more confident that you know what visa to apply for and how to go about it. On the other hand, if none of these visa types sound like they fit the bill, keep an eye out for our upcoming blog on residency permits for those looking to reside in France longer term.