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FRANCE: Changes have been made to short-term work visas and internships, and requirements have been clarified for assignees and their families

Visa waiver for short-term work in France

Nationals of Australia, Brazil, South Korea, United States, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, and Venezuela, traveling to France to work for less than three months do not need to obtain a visa before traveling as long as they have their work permit with them on arrival in France.

Interns at work

Changes to the 2006 law that were decreed on August 25, 2010, redefined and detail the conditions under which students, including foreign students, may complete internships. These new regulations apply to all student internships in the workplace, whether they are enrolled in a French or foreign teaching establishment. Since September 1, 2010, internships that are not part of an academic course are no longer permitted.

New measures for employees on assignment and their families

A November 2010 circular from the Ministry of Immigration details the procedures applicable to employees on assignment and their families. The status of "employee on assignment" has existed since 2007 and facilitates mobility within groups for foreign employees sent on assignment or hired in France by a company from the same group as their home employer. Qualifying employees must have over three months of employment in the group, be coming to France for an initial period of three months to three years, and be paid at least one-and-a-half times the French minimum wage (SMIC).

Short-term assignments: creation of a specific procedure

The "employee on assignment" status now contains a specific procedure for shorter assignments of under three months. In an effort to simplify procedures, work permit requests of under three months that meet the "employee on assignment" criteria will lead to the issuance of 12-month work authorizations. Visas with multiple entries will also be delivered to those who must obtain visas. The beneficiary may now undertake assignments of up to three months in a six-month period, instead of having to request an authorization for each short-term assignment.

Length of "employee on assignment" residence permits

When a work permit authorization under "employee on assignment" status has been granted for a period of over three months, the residence permit must now be valid for three years. Contrary to practices observed previously, the Préfectures will not be allowed to limit the validity of residence permits when the assignments are planned to last less than three years.

New procedures for application processing

From December 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, the districts of Paris, Hauts de Seine, and Rhône, will put in place a new "guichet unique" (single counter) service for the "employee on assignment" procedures. Work authorization requests must be sent directly to the OFII, which will liaise with the Labour Authorities and Consulates.

The right to work for the spouse of an employee on assignment

The circular restates that spouses of employees on assignment for six months or more are to be given dependent residence permits and may hold a professional occupation while in France. When the assignment of the employee is less than six months, the spouse is given visitor status, which does not permit him or her to work.

A reminder: no second-rank secondments

The circular reconfirms the position that employees on assignment seconded (temporarily transferred) to a French company belonging to the same group as the home employer cannot then be seconded by the host company to another firm.

Renewal of the "employee on assignment" residence permit

The circular confirms that the residence permit is renewable, in principle, so long as evidence is provided to show that the initial conditions (terms and compensation) that led to the delivery of the initial residence permit are still met. However, the text also confirms that "employee on assignment" - seconded status cannot be maintained indefinitely and cannot lead to 10-year residence cards because the presence is temporary in nature.

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