FRANCE – Tech Visa Route for Startups
France has started to publicize a simplified, fast-track Tech Visa scheme for founders of start-up companies, its employees, and investors. This new expedited visa route enables qualifying tech talent to obtain a Passeport Talent residence permit for four years (renewable) for themselves and their immediate family, without requiring a separate work permit.
The Passeport Talent scheme was launched in 2016 for ten categories of foreign nationals.
The qualifying criteria for each of the three tech visa types is as follows:
To be eligible for the French Tech Visa as a startup founder, an applicant must have:
- financial resources at least equal to the French annual minimum wage, €17,763.20 as of 1 January 2017;
- an economically innovative startup project that they plan to develop in France; and
- approval by a French public organization called the Direccte.
To be eligible for the French Tech Visa as an employee, an applicant must have:
- a graduate degree (master’s degree or higher);
- a work contract with a minimum duration of 3 months with a French company eligible to recruit via the French Tech Visa; and
- a gross annual salary of at least €35,526.40 (twice the French minimum wage as of 1 January 2017).
To qualify for a Talent Passport marked Business Investor, an applicant must be recruited by a venture capital firm based in France, or:
- be investing at least €300,000 in fixed tangible or intangible assets;
- be investing either directly or via a company in which they have at least a 30% shareholding;
- own at least 10% of the company in which they are investing; and
- be creating or protecting (or committing to create or protect) jobs within the four years following the investment.
There is a simplified “accompanying family” procedure available for an applicant’s spouse and dependent minor children:
- The applicant’s spouse will be automatically granted the “Talent Passport – Family” residence permit, giving him/her the same authorization to live and work in France as the principal applicant;
- Dependent children under the age of 18 do NOT need a residence permit. However, an underage child travel document (‘document de circulation pour étranger mineur’ – DCEM) must be obtained at the local Préfecture after arrival in France; and
- Children who enter France under the age of 18, but who turn 18 during their stay must apply for a “Talent Passport – Family” residence permit in the year they turn 18.
How to Apply
Applicants outside of France must apply for a long-stay visa at the French Consulate in their usual place of residence no earlier than 3 months before the date of their planned arrival in France.
In addition to the required documents for a Passeport Talent residence permit, the applicant will need to provide an official letter from their employer, their partner incubator or accelerator in France from the Direccte, or from the French Tech Mission to demonstrate that they qualify.
Once in France, the applicant must present their long-stay visa at their local Préfecture (French government administrative office) which will then issue their residence permit allowing them to stay and work in France.
If the applicant already lives in France under a different type of residence permit, they will need to apply at their local Prefecture in France for a change of status, two months before the previous residence permit expires.
Startup founders, employees or investors in the technology sector who are interested should contact their immigration advisor at McCown & Evans LLP to check whether they qualify for this route.
These updates were prepared with information provided by our global knowledge content partner, Peregrine.