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FRANCE: A new circulaire designates the Migrations Office as the one-stop office

A new circulaire designates the Migrations Office (OFII) as the one-stop office that will coordinate work and residence permit processes with the various administrations, to simplify such processes and reduce the overall processing time, for intra-company transferees and executive officers. This designation is for a trial period of 6 months and concerns districts 75 (Paris), 92 (Nanterre), and 69 (Lyon).

In its circulaire of February 10, 2011, the Bureau of Professional Immigration has designated the Migrations Office (OFII) as having jurisdiction over the place of work as the one-stop office (guichet unique) that will receive work permit applications for qualifying intra-company transferees (salarié en mission). OFII will coordinate the work permit application process with the local labor office (DIRECCTE) that adjudicates work permits and e-mail work permit approvals to the visa-issuing consular authorities. The circulaire provides very specific target processing times.

Work Permit Processing Times

The OFII is asked to forward the application to the DIRECCTE within 5 days. This office must adjudicate the work permit and inform the OFII within 10 days. The OFII will then inform the consular authorities, which are to issue the visas to the applicant and his or her accompanying family members by e-mail within 48 hours. The overall processing time should take 4 to 6 weeks from the time OFII receives a complete application.

Residence Permit Processing Times

The residence permit should be issued within the validity period of the long-stay visa to avoid the need to issue an intermediary document (récépissé), and in any case, no later than 3 months from the date of entry.

OFII will also coordinate the issuance of the residence permit with the Prefecture having jurisdiction over the applicant's domicile so that the residence permit may be delivered when the assignee passes the medical exam. The assignee will be spared the additional appearance at the Prefecture to receive the residence permit.

Important: OFII is urged by the Bureau of Professional Immigration to schedule the medical examination before the expiry date of the long-stay visa. If the applicant does not appear on the date of convocation, he or she will be convoked a second time. If the applicant does not appear within 30 days of the first appointment, the residence permit will be returned to the Prefecture for delivery.

Accelerated Processing for Executive Officers

The circulaire recalls Articles 7 and 7bis of the decisions of the National Commission of Skills and Talents, which allow qualifying executive officers to apply for the Skills and Talents permit, and avoid the more cumbersome process under the Business (commerçant) permit. To qualify under Article 7, the executive officer's nomination must be supported by a foreign company that was formed at least 2 years ago or that is already doing business in France. To qualify under 7bis, the applicant must be a représentant légal of an entity in France, meeting the following three criteria: (i) employment with or nomination as a non-resident executive officer (mandataire social hors de France) by an entity of the same group; (ii) a monthly salary of three times the legal minimum wage (smic is the acronym for minimum legal wage); and (iii) assignment in France for more than 6 months.

Trial Period

The designation of the OFII as the one-stop office is on a trial basis for 6 months and applies only to districts 75 (Paris), 92 (Nanterre), and 69 (Lyon). If the trial is successful, we should expect a new circular that will make the designation permanent and enlarge OFII's territory to include all other districts.

A decision of the Administrative Court of Appeal of Paris confirms that a foreign employee cannot be seconded to a position in France when such position is permanent in nature.

The facts in this case are quite simple and frequently encountered by mobility managers of multinational corporations. Turkish Airlines transferred one of its Turkish employees to serve as the accountant for their operations based in France, under a secondment (détachement) work permit. As such, the Turkish employee remained under a Turkish employment contract, on the Turkish payroll and under the Turkish social security scheme. The secondment work permit had been renewed annually over three consecutive years, before a new renewal application was denied by the labor authorities in Paris.

The denial of the work permit was overruled in the first instance by the Administrative Court and then upheld by the Administrative Court of Appeal. The court reasoned that the position of accountant in France was a permanent position, by its very nature. It could therefore not be filled by a Turkish employee on a secondment assignment, regardless of the facts that the position required knowledge of the Turkish language and Turkish accounting principles. A secondment, as defined by the labor code (Article L. 1261-3) must be temporary in nature. Consequently, Turkish Airlines should have applied for a permanent work permit under a French employment contract giving rise to French social security charges.

The secondment in this case occurred before the French government created the "salarié en mission" category in 2006 to allow multinational companies to transfer foreign personnel to French affiliates. The "salarié en mission" work permit, under the present regulations, is intended for a temporary assignment, as was the secondment work permit obtained by Turkish Airlines. Arguably, it could be concluded that the new "salarié en mission" work permit would not have allowed Turkish Airlines to temporarily transfer its Turkish employee to become the accountant of its French operations.

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