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The New Road to the Right to Live and Work in France

The decree No. 2009-477 of April 27, 2009, in effect allows foreign spouses of French nationals and foreigners holding a long-stay visa (more than three months and up to 12 months) marked as “visiteur” (visitor), “étudiant”(student), “travailleur salarié” (salaried worker) or “travailleur temporaire” (temporary worker), to stay for more than three months and for a maximum of 12 months with just their entry visa, i.e. without the need to apply for a residence permit at the Préfecture — they simply register with the “OFII” (“Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration”), the new name for the “ANAEM” (“Agence nationale de l’accueil des étrangers et des migrations”).

The new provision comes into effect on June 1st, 2009, greatly simplifying the procedures for these five categories of foreigners who represent about 115,000 of the 140,000 long-stay visas issued each year, according to the Under-Director of Visas at the Ministry of Immigration. It’s so easy that upon arrival in France, those who are concerned by this provision only need to provide to the OFII details of their civil status and domicile in France…along with a photo and medical certificate (by virtue of a medical exam administered by the OFII).

Once the year is up…and we all know how impossible it is to consider leaving France once one has spent a full four seasons here…an application can be filed for a residence permit at the Préfecture two months before the visa expires.

This enlightening information for foreigners comes at the same time that France is boasting about the success of its new Auto-Entrepreneur program. Just the first quarter of 2009, 43.2% more new businesses have been created than for the same period one year ago…a record breaking result.

Ann also sent on information that Francis Lefebvre, one of the biggest publishers of legal manuals, has just launched a guide for the Auto-Entrepreneur and remarked, “…that in itself shows it’s a huge success — such a success that I’m getting worried they will put some restrictions on it!”

Now, I know that many of you are seeking ways of legally being in France and finding paths to earning a living here. It has never been easy for foreigners and the path is akin to being Dorothy on the “yellow brick road” — riddled with decisions of what direction to take to reach the “Emerald City” (Paris), deterrents like the roar of the Cowardly Lion (French law) and enemies like the Wicked Witch of the West (the Préfecture). I’ve consulted with hundreds of people over the years to help them find the right paths and believe this one may be smoother than others.

The concept is this: you apply for this new type of visa for up to one year…in the category that fits you best, even if you come as a visitor without the right to work. And while you’re here you explore the possibilities…use the time to research what paths are available to you. You then open an Auto-Entrepreneur — the law doesn’t specify what TYPE of visa you must have to do this — only that you must have a long stay visa! And then, you decide to stay longer than a year and apply to change your visa to give you the right to work.

Ann warns me…and you…that there is no guarantee they will grant you a change in status! It is clearly a risk that you would take. And it would be best to enter France with the most correct type of visa to begin with…but it IS possible it would work. There are advantages to ‘staying under the radar’ in the beginning…no doubt, but should you decide to stay and seek a long-stay visa, you will have lost valuable time — a disadvantage.

We have a saying here: “There is the law and then there is the reality.” Anyone who wants to live in France must understand what that means fully. It does not suggest ‘breaking the law,’ but does suggest that the law should be viewed with a clear perspective on what lies beyond and not blindly followed without seeing the pitfalls that lie before you.

No matter what you do, don’t do it without professional advice from those that know where the pitfalls lie!


A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. Only 13 days left to register FREE for the Living and Investing in France Real Estate Conference! Bring your spouse, partner or friend for FREE and register 2 for the price of 1. Sunday, May 31st in Paris — learn everything you need to know about living and investing in France. Visit Living and Investing in France Real Estate Conference or email [email protected]

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