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FRANCE: Draft Law on Rights of Foreigners

The government has finalized its draft of the Law on the Rights of Foreigners in France.

The government has finalized and published its draft of the Law on the Rights of Foreigners in France, which is a significant overhaul of the Code of Entry and Stay of Foreigners and of Asylum (CESEDA).  The new law would increase the use of multi-annual permits to stay, create new immigration categories, and eliminate the work permit requirement for assignments of less than three months.

Below are highlights of the major changes of interest to human resource and mobility managers.  The draft law is not yet scheduled for parliamentary debate, which is expected to occur in upcoming months.

Purpose of the Draft Law

The government aims to reduce the workload for civil servants and the compliance burden on business, and to attract qualified foreign nationals and investments to France.  The draft law achieves these three goals by: (1) increasing the use of multi-annual permits to stay, thus reducing the renewals of the current one-year permit to stay (Carte de Séjour Temporaire); (2) creating a new multi-annual "supra" category, the Talent Passport, which overhauls many existing categories and creates some new ones that will be of interest to business; and (3) eliminating the temporary work permit (APT) requirement for foreigners assigned to France for less than three months.

Increased Use of Multi-Annual Permits

Currently, most third-country nationals are issued a one-year renewable permit to stay.  The renewal process requires multiple personal appearances and issuance of temporary documents (récépissés).

The draft law provides for the issuance of multi-annual permits with a maximum validity of four years, after the expiration of the initial one-year permit, to the extent the third-country national has demonstrated his or her willingness to adhere to French cultural and republican values.

The draft law provides that trainees, self-employed professionals, and visitors will not benefit from the multi-annual permit.

Talent Passport

Currently, there are several categories to attract talent and investment.  The draft law merges the existing categories into the Talent Passport.  This "supra" category includes a total of nine categories with a maximum validity of four years:

  1. Young Qualified Graduate (jeune diplômé qualifié): Requires: (i) a master's or doctorate-level degree earned in France or sponsorship by an employer qualified as an Innovating Start-Up (jeune entreprise innovante) by the Fiscal Code; (ii) a French employment contract; and (iii) a threshold salary determined by decree.  This is a new category.
  2. Highly Qualified Worker (travailleur hautement qualifié): Requires: (i) a three-year university degree or five years of experience; (ii) a French employment contract of at least 12 months; and (iii) a threshold salary determined by decree.  This category absorbs the previous European Blue Card without substantial change.
  3. Inter-Company Transferee (ICT) (salarié en mission): Requires: (i) an intra-group transfer; (ii) a three-month prior employment; and (iii) a threshold salary determined by decree.  Under the existing scheme, the three-month prior employment is not required when the ICT becomes a French employee.  This category absorbs the previous ICT category without any other substantial change.
  4. Scientist (chercheur): Requires: (i) a master's level or higher degree; (ii) tasks of research or teaching at the university level; and (iii) an agreement with a government-approved body.  This category absorbs the previous Scientist category, with no significant change.
  5. Entrepreneur (créateur d’entreprise): Requires: (i) a master's-level degree or five years of experience; and (ii) creation of an enterprise in accordance with criteria to be determined by government decree.  This is a new category.
  6. Investor (investisseur): Requires a direct investment in infrastructure, as determined by government decree.  This category absorbs the previous Exceptional Economic Contribution.  The amount of investment is expected to be lowered from €10,000,000 to €500,000 and the number of jobs to be created from 50 to 10.
  7. Executive Officer (mandataire social): Requires: (i) nomination of a legal representative or executive officer of an entity registered in France; and (ii) a threshold income to be defined by decree.  This category was previously covered under Competence and Talent and does not change substantially.
  8. Artist (artiste): Requires: (i) a contract approved by the cultural (DRAC) or labor (SMOE) authorities for an artistic or cultural activity; and (ii) threshold compensation to be defined by decree.  This preexisting category is being merged here without substantial change.
  9. Foreigner Renowned Internationally in a scientific, literary, intellectual, educational, or sports domain (étranger ayant une renommée internationale dans un domaine scientifique, littéraire, intellectuel, éducatif, ou sportif): Requires: (i) international fame; and (ii) an activity in France in one of the stated areas.  This pre-existing category is being merged here with changes to be determined by implementing regulations.

Activities 1, 2, 3, 8, and 9 may be exercised without a separate work permit.  In case of involuntary loss of employment, the permit will be extended for one year.  Beyond that, the validity will be limited to the remaining period of unemployment benefits.

The accompanying spouse and minor children reaching majority will be issued a multi-annual permit for the duration of the validity of the principal holder of the Talent Passport.  Such derivative permit will allow work.

Elimination of the Temporary Work Permit (APT)

The draft law proposes the elimination of the temporary work permit currently required for assignments of less than three months.  The impact study accompanying the draft law states that short assignments need to be declared under existing regulations, which are adequate tools to verify a posteriori the legality of such assignments.  The elimination of the temporary work permit is a controversial proposition and will be debated in the months to come.

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