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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anyone else live in France, and work for a US company under a liaison office or branch office? And what does "seconded" employee mean? I know I need to speak to an attorney, but I was looking for thoughts first.

I am a U.S. citizen and work for a small American company as an international marketing manager. My job consists of traveling to meet with customers around the world and attending trade fairs. I divide my time at present between my home in the US and my home in France. Being located in France part of the time is logistically easier for my travel to Europe and other parts of the world. That said, because I own a home in France, I'd like to to research legal options to stay in France longer term, from 1-3 years.

We do business around the world, we have distributors who sell our products, but they are independent entities. The company itself has no offices outside the United States. They are not interested in forming a subsidiary, so I have researched other options. It appears:

a) I could set up a liaison office of the company, but no commercial activity can go on. I am primarily doing meetings and marketing activities, and not selling or invoicing. I found this from the Invest in France web site.

b) I could set up a branch office but it would be more involved and would involve paying of taxes and social fees

c) I see there is something called a "seconded" employee, but I'm not sure what that involves

d) I also see that there is a long-stay carte de sejour, salarie en mission…

Even if I were to do this though, it still is very unclear which visa should be applied for from the US…carte de commercant?

My company is a small company and are unlikely to invest a large amount of money in this. Before pursuing other avenues to legally stay in France (such as returning to university), I thought I would investigate options that would allow me to continue working for them, but still be here in France. I would not be using the French social system.

I know this is not an easy proposition, but I wanted to ask if anyone had done this or been successful with it. Many thanks.
 

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"Secondment" is a fancy term for a temporary assignment. There is a provision in the various treaties between the US and France for a "seconded" employee to remain in his or her home country social insurance system for the duration of their temporary assignment, but only up to a period of 5 years. During this time, however, the seconded employee is considered tax resident in France and pays French income taxes. They are exempt, however, from the "cotisations" as long as they continue to pay these back home.

US "social security" consists only of FICA, i.e. retirement, but AFAIK you have to have your health coverage continued by your employer back in the US. Up to you to find out whether your US health insurance will cover care and treatment you may need in France. I'm not sure, but I think your employer has to pass the necessary paperwork with the French government to make this sort of thing happen. In any event, the idea is that you would be "seconded" to your employer's French office (be that a branch or a subsidiary - some entity that has a French payroll).

As far as your visa options are concerned, for a "work visa" your employer is going to have to get involved. You may want to contact the AmCham in Paris: Amcham France But ultimately, your company will need to deal with legal help to get the proper set-up to allow you to work for them from France like that, and if it's just a convenience for you (i.e. after you are done, the company would not be sending anyone else to replace you in the office or branch or whatever) it probably isn't going to be worth the time and trouble to set things up officially.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Bev and thanks for your prompt response!

The secondment thing isn't going to work because we do not have a branch or a subsidiary in France and they are not interested in setting up one at this time. That's why I was just looking at having a liaison bureau set up, as it seems fairly simple. I am not sure what you mean in your last sentence, about not being worth the trouble to set things up officially? Can you clarify?


"Secondment" is a fancy term for a temporary assignment. There is a provision in the various treaties between the US and France for a "seconded" employee to remain in his or her home country social insurance system for the duration of their temporary assignment, but only up to a period of 5 years. During this time, however, the seconded employee is considered tax resident in France and pays French income taxes. They are exempt, however, from the "cotisations" as long as they continue to pay these back home.

US "social security" consists only of FICA, i.e. retirement, but AFAIK you have to have your health coverage continued by your employer back in the US. Up to you to find out whether your US health insurance will cover care and treatment you may need in France. I'm not sure, but I think your employer has to pass the necessary paperwork with the French government to make this sort of thing happen. In any event, the idea is that you would be "seconded" to your employer's French office (be that a branch or a subsidiary - some entity that has a French payroll).

As far as your visa options are concerned, for a "work visa" your employer is going to have to get involved. You may want to contact the AmCham in Paris: Amcham France But ultimately, your company will need to deal with legal help to get the proper set-up to allow you to work for them from France like that, and if it's just a convenience for you (i.e. after you are done, the company would not be sending anyone else to replace you in the office or branch or whatever) it probably isn't going to be worth the time and trouble to set things up officially.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Basically, I'm kind of agreeing with your conclusion - that it isn't worthwhile for the company to set up a branch or other business entity in France if it's just to accommodate you for a couple of years. Setting up a branch is only really worthwhile for them if they plan to continue maintaining the branch (or whatever) after your departure. (And for that, they'd need to either hire someone in France, or send another US employee over.)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks again!

Well they might set up a branch, and I would run it. But they're not going to do that in short term until our business accelerates outside the U.S. and there is justification for it. In the meantime, I would like to continue my work but stay in the country longer term. That's why I though establishing a liaison office (the step before a branch) might be the way to go. From what I've read it seems fairly simple. Have you heard of such a thing? We have no French presence here or any offices outside the US, so my options are limited.

I know I'm an odd one, wanting to stay in France with how horrible it is (all I hear is negativity in general from people who live here), but as I mentioned, I own a home here, enjoy my work and would like to find a way to do both if possible.

Many thanks again!!!
 
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