France keen on attracting more business people and international students

by Ray Clancy on January 9, 2014

Reports of a number of French people and expats leaving the country due to increased taxes and red tape are leading officials to attract more foreign people to set up business in the country.

They point out that for several years now there have been special procedures in place for foreign citizens who wish to run a company, engage in highly skilled employment in France or work in a French subsidiary of their group.

france eiffel tower

France has the fifth largest foreign student population in OECD countries

They are particularly keen to attract high flying businesses people from countries like Australia and the United States. Those from European Union member states can easily move to and work in France but others may need a visa and permit. ‘Foreign nationals working in France benefit from a very attractive regime,’ said a spokesman.

He pointed out that the Skills and Expertise residence permit, a temporary permit valid for up to three years at a time on a renewable basis, enables the holder to perform a salaried or business activity in France.

The Expat Employee residence permit, a three year renewable residence permit is specifically designed for intra group job transfers. Subject to certain conditions, it is available to employees on assignment to, or employed under contract by, subsidiaries in France.

‘These two residence permits offer advantages for any accompanying family members such as a partner or child, who are fully entitled to the Private and Family Life residence permit, also valid for three years, and who are authorised to seek employment,’ the spokesman explained.

The French government says it is cutting red tape for international workers. Foreign nationals from EU countries, including new member states, or the non-EU countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who wish to create a company in France do not have to follow any specific procedures.

Non-resident executives, such as a business person living abroad and running a company in France, need only complete a straightforward declaration to the local préfet of the department prior to starting up. Officials claim that applications will be dealt with within two weeks maximum.

A single contact point for Skills and Expertise and Expat Employee residence permit holders, the Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration (OFII), was set up in 2011 in eight departments. The OFII also acts as a one stop shop for employers regarding all immigration formalities such as work permits, medical examinations and residence permits.

France is also encouraging foreign students to study. According to the most up to date data France has the fifth largest foreign student population in OECD countries.

Students from outside the EU can apply for a temporary student residence permit and can work for up to 964 hours a year without a work permit. Once they have graduated they may be entitled to a temporary six month residence permit to work in a job related to their studies in France.

Officials also point out that France is one of the best connected countries for bilateral social security agreements, with 40 bilateral agreements. Even in the absence of a bilateral agreement, the Economic Modernisation Act 2008, grants temporarily assigned employees a three year exemption from retirement contributions, subject to certain conditions.

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