France – Changes to French Work and Residence Permits

The end of 2016 is predicted to usher in changes to French work and residence permits for foreign nationals, dependents and some employers. Under this proposed law, certain passport holders and some short-term assignees may no longer require permits.

The new law seeks to change the classification of several types of work and residence permits. The changes, expected to be detailed by November 2016, will seek to improve the French immigration system in terms of ease of use and strengthening the attractiveness of France to foreign talent. In addition, it will assist in bolstering regulations that combat illegal immigration.

The new “talent passport” will impact highly skilled foreign nationals. They will be categorized as “Talent Passport” holders, entitling the holder to a new classification of residence permit valid for four (4) years. Foreign nationals who may qualify for “Talent Passports” include scientists, EU Blue Card holders, and intra-company transferees (ICTS) with local contracts. Most importantly, these foreign employees will be exempt from obtaining a French work permit.

Changes to the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) category include that residence permits for ICT assignees remaining on a foreign payroll will be simplified into three (3) different groups: Managers, Interns, and non-EEA nationals relocating from other EU countries.

Three other residence permits will apply to: foreign employees holding indefinite term contracts, those self-employed foreign nationals, and temporary workers.

Additional work permit exemptions to be implemented will allow eligible family members to work depending on which category their family member is placed.

Finally, the new law contains work permit exemption provisions for foreign employees undertaking short-term (less than three months) assignments in specific industries. However, the specific industries eligible for this exemption have yet to be announced by the French authorities.