Boosting France’s attractiveness to skilled foreigners – Establishment of “talent passports”

The law on the rights of foreigners in France adopted by the National Assembly on February 18 establishes a “talent passport,” a new type of multi-year residence permit for the most skilled foreigners who wish to live in France.

It is designed in particular for researchers, artists, employees on assignment abroad, and scientists, as well as figures of international renown. Foreign students who obtain it can more easily work in France after finishing their studies.

Given the strong global competition for international talents, this law will help secure and simplify the stay of skilled foreigners in our country.

1. Creation of a new residence permit for foreign talent: the “Talent Passport”

The new legislation on the rights of foreign nationals in France that aimed to both ensure the integration of foreign nationals and boost France’s appeal. It followed an announcement the President of the French Republic made at the first Strategic Council on Economic Attractiveness in 2014.

- It created the “Talent Passport”, a residence permit valid for up to four years;
- It created the “ICT posted employee” residence permit, specifically for intra-company transfers;
- It generalized the principle of granting multi-year residence permits.

This set of measures simplified current law and the administrative procedures for foreign nationals in France, and produced new rights benefiting a whole range of talented economic, cultural and academic professionals.

a) Simplification of existing law and introduction of new eligible categories

The “Talent Passport” residence permit simplifies the environment for international businesses by grouping together the current residence permits under one name:

- “European Blue Card” residence permits, dedicated to highly qualified workers in paid employment in France;
- “Employee on Assignment” residence permits, for intra-company transfers of employees under contract with a company in France;
- “Research Scientist”;
- “Artistic and Cultural Profession” residence permits;
- “Skills and Expertise” residence permits;
- “Exceptional Economic Contribution” residence permits.

The permit therefore groups together ten categories reflecting today’s economic realities:

1) Young graduates with a master’s degree or equivalent, and advanced technical degress such as a one-year degree after the BTS (two-year technical degree) or DUT (two-year university in technology), specialized master’s degree or Master of Science created by the Conférence des Grandes Ecoles ;
2) Highly qualified workers (European Blue Card);
3) Employees on assignment with a work contract in France;
4) Researchers;
5) Business founders;
6) People with an innovative economic project;
7) Economic investors;
8) Corporate officers;
9) Artists and performers;
10) Internationally and nationally renowned foreign nationals in the areas of science, literature, art, academia, education and sports.

b) Simplification of administrative procedures

The new residence permit is valid up to four years, which will reduce the administrative procedures foreign nationals have to carry out in France.

If foreign nationals are staying longer than one year, the consulates will issue a long-stay “Talent Passport” visa. The Prefecture will issue the actual permit to them upon their arrival in France.

In addition, a long-stay visa serving as a residence permit will be granted for people who plan to reside in France for less than a year. With this visa, they carry out any procedures at the Prefecture. These foreign nationals will be required to have their visa validated by the French Office for Immigration and Integration (OFII).

In addition, their spouses may also be granted a “Talent Passport” visa and enter France at the same time. They will also therefore have the right to work. For certain categories of foreign nationals, including scientists, this clarification is important (researchers were not granted the same type of residence permit as their families).

Lastly, “Talent Passport” holders with paid employment will not be required to have a work permit to work and the employment situation cannot be a reason for their being refused.

c) New rights for new talent profiles

These are:

- Corporate officers, who previously enjoyed a “Business Activity” or “Skills and Expertise” residence permit;
- Business founders with an equivalent to a master’s degree;
- Foreign nationals with at least an equivalent to a master’s degree and hired by an innovative start-up;
- Foreign nationals wishing to invest in France (for a minimum amount of €300,000);
- Employees with an equivalent to a master’s degree or employees hired by a young innovative company involved in R&D activities;
- Internationally and nationally renowned foreign nationals in the areas of science, literature, art, academia, education and sports.
The new provisions are also more protective: if “Talent Passport” holders lose their job, they will be able to stay for for the period during which they benefit from unemployment subsidies.

Regarding the “Business founders” category, you can promote it as a startup visa. It can be delivered according to several conditions :
- To hold a Master degree or a five-years professional experience
- To justify that the business creation is real and serious
- To invest at least 30 000 euros into the project.

Another category could be provided to startupers : “People with an innovative economic project”. The condition is that the project must be acknowledged by a public institution. For instance, the French Tech Ticket laureates have benefited from this visa.

d) Artists, performers, and Internationally and nationally renowned foreign nationals

  • Artists and performers

The Artist residence permit can be delivered according to several conditions:
- To be an artist, performer or author (under the articles L.212-1 and L.112-2 from the “code de la propriété intellectuelle”)
- To be established in France for more than 3 months
- To be able to justify an income linked to his/her professional activity of at least 70% of the minimum wage.

Performers must be established in France at least 3 months during a maximum period of 12 months.

Technicians cannot benefit from this visa.

  • Internationally and nationally renowned foreign nationals

The residence permit can be delivered to the internationally and nationally renowned foreign nationals in the areas of science, literature, art, academia, education and sports, who are established in France for more than 3 months.

The international reputation can be based on various criteria:

- Peers recognition (articles, books, etc.)
- Participation to festivals, seminars, etc.
- Prizes, scolarships, distinctions., etc.
- The reputation of the hosting venues.

2. Transposing EU law, the Act of March 2016 lays down the residence conditions for third-country nationals participating in an intra-company transfer or ICT

A new resident permit with the inscription “ICT posted employee” has been created. Beneficiaries are:
- ICT trainees: intra-company employees who are coming to France for a trainee programme in a company for up to 12 months under a training agreement signed by the Préfet ;
- ICT posted employees: posted employees participating in an intra-group transfer, who come to France to work temporarily in a senior-level position or provide expertise within the company, without signing a work contract, for up to three years.
The members of the ICT posted worker’s family (spouse and children under 18) are also automatically issued an ICT residence permit, which gives them the right to work.

3. In some areas, employees are not required to have a work permit for stays under three months

An estimated 40,000 foreign nationals come to work in France every year for periods under or equivalent to three months. They will no longer have to submit a work permit to support their visa application for the activities listed below:
- Sporting, cultural, artistic and scientific events;
- Colloquia, seminars and trade fairs;
- Film, TV, performance and music production and broadcasting, when performers or the technical staff are working directly with the production or director;
- Fashion and art models;
- Personal services and household employees during their employers’ stay in France;
- Audit and expertise assignments in the fields of IT, management, finance, insurance, architecture and engineering, when the posted employee is posted under Article 1262-1 of the Labour Code;
- Occasional teaching assignments given by invited professors.

4. Easier granting of a residence permit to foreign students enrolled in higher education in France

The Act of 2016 on the rights of foreign nationals in France makes it easier to issue a residence permit of up to one year to foreign students who wish to work in France after finishing their studies. It is not possible to refuse on the basis of the employment situation in France.

Their salary must also be one and a half times the monthly statutory minimum wage (SMIC) and their jobs must be related to their academic curriculum.
In addition, medical examination at the OFII is not mandatory for foreign students anymore.

5. Accelerated social security registration for Talent Passport holders

Still with the purpose of facilitating administrative procedures as much as possible, “Talent Passport” holders can now also benefit from accelerated social security registration. An attached note gives an overview of the measure.

6. A resource centre to facilitate practicalities for talented foreign nationals arriving in France

The simplified residence permit will be supported by a resource centre for “Talent Passport” holders. Conditions upon arrival are key to a country’s appeal. The creation of this resource centre was announced in March 2016 by the President Hollande at the last Strategic Council on Economic Attractiveness.

The resource centre will take the form of a website containing general information in French and English aimed at international talented professionals and their families. It aims to simplify all the administrative procedures involved in the admission and integration of international talented professionals depending on their profile, including, in addition to information on the website, the possibility of direct contact with a hotline (by computer and telephone). This hotline will help provide personalized responses to questions about the major procedures involved in moving to France, in a holistic, practical and personalized format focused, initially, on the “residence permit”, “taxation” and “social security coverage” aspects. The site will also provide a list of useful contacts for “Talent Passport” holders ahead of departure (consulates, Alliances françaises, French foreign trade advisors, etc.) and in France (business communities, incubators, expatriates’ associations, etc.).

publié le 14/03/2017

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