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Do you live in South Africa and would like to move to France to retire or invest in a business? Click alongside to learn more


France is the largest country in Western Europe and a member of the United Nations Security Council, a founding member of the European Union, and is part of the EU’s Schengen Area (granting free movement throughout most of continental Europe).
Immigrate to France today.

France has traditionally been very protective of its domestic labor force and remains one of the most heavily ‘protected’ labor markets in Europe. However, in recent years there have been various moves in a new direction, mainly to attract skills sets which are scarce in France, particularly in the IT industry.

  • Population: 66,99 million (2019)
  • Language: French
  • Time Zone: (GMT+2)
  • Dialling Code: +33
  • Currency: Euro, CFP franc


Work permits in France are based on the type of work or employers and length of validity of the permits.

  • Skills and Talent work permit or “TALENT-PASSPORT”:

If you are an executive, independent professional or employee who, in respect of the French authorities, has the potential to make a ‘significant contribution’ to the French economy, especially in intellectual, scientific, cultural, sporting or humanitarian fields and you’ll be involved in a specific project, then you can apply for a 3 years – renewable – ‘Talent-Passport’ (“carte competences et talents”). The list also includes EU blue Card holders, Master graduates recruited in a company considered as innovating, foreign nationals with an economically innovating project recognised by a public organisation, amongst other categories.

This permit allows the spouse to work legally in France and you no longer need to apply at DIRECCTE but you will apply at the French Consulate abroad.

  • Employed’ or ‘salaried’ and temporary workers’ permit:

If you have been employed for 18 months on a long-stay work visa or temporary worker, then your spouse and minor children can apply for a one year visitor’s visa – this visa does NOT allow them to work in France.

  • Employees on assignment (or ‘expatriate employees’) or “ICT permit”:

If you have been working for at least 3 months in a company overseas and are seconded (transferred) to a branch or affiliate in France, and will be earning 1.5 times the minimum wage (around EUR 2,105/month), then you are eligible to apply for this permit. It is the French equivalent to the ICT permit and is valid for 3 years maximum.
The spouse can join you on this permit but is NOT allowed to work until he/she has been in France for 6 months and has been granted a vie privée et familiale permit. However, if the man applicant is a senior manager, then there is a version of the permit that allows the spouse to work. ICT permits are now processed directly in the French Consulates abroad.

The ICT permit also covers the following categories:

  • ICT intern: as part of an intra-group partnership agreement.
  • Mobile ICT employee: possible for a foreign national living in another EU country with an “ICT posted employee” or “ICT intern” status.

In most cases you need a “work visa for a short term stay” and your employer needs to have the work contract approved by DIRECCTE (the ‘Direction Départementale du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Formation Professionnelle’) in English (Labour Department). Certain activities are work permit exempt (if under 90 days).

These include:

  • Sporting, cultural, artistic and scientific events;
  • Conferences, seminars and trade exhibitions;
  • Cinema, audio and show production and distribution when the applicant is an artist or part of the technical team;
  • Models;
  • Domestic employees during the stay in France of their employees;
  • Audit and computer experts, management, finance, insurance, architect and engineering missions;
  • Occasional teaching activities by guest professors.

It takes approximately 5 working days to be processed in South Africa, provided all documents are submitted

You will need a “long stay visa”. These long stay visas can be issued for academic, professional, or private reasons, including retirement. The visa will be adapted to your specific reasons and duration of stay.

If you come to France for work, your employer needs to apply for a separate work and residence permit (carte de séjour) on your behalf.

The residence permit (“carte de sejour”) is a separate permit obtained from your local town hall (“prefecture”) for a long term stay in France. If you have a visa issued for 3 – 12 months, this must be registered with the French Office of Immigration and Integration and then replaces the “carte de sejour”.

After 5 years of legal residence in France you can apply for a “carte de resident”, which is a 10-year residence permit. Our expert partners located in France can assist with registering and obtaining  the “carte de sejour” once you are in France.

You collect it from the town hall (‘Prefecture’) in the city where you will be residing in France so no need to worry you do not have to worry about if before you arrive in France. The residence permit will stipulate the purpose of your stay and all relevant info will be mentioned on your work permit.

You need to renew your residence permit every year EXCEPT if you have a special permit ‘carte compétences et talents’ (also referred to as TALENT PASSPORT), in which case your residence permit will be valid for 3 years and acts as a combined visa, work and residence permit. If you have been legally living in France for at least 5 consecutive years you can apply for a ‘carte de resident ‘  which is valid for 10 years.

Your employer in France has to obtain your authorization for you to work; this means that you will need FIRST need to find an employer.

If your summer job is less than 3 months, check if your activity is not work permit exempt; if not, then your employer in France will get you a temporary work permit approved by the French Ministry of Labour, the DIRECCTE (Direction régionale des enterprises, de la concurrence et de la consummation, du travail et de l’emploi).

If your summer job is longer than 3 months, you will be eligible for a residence permit valid for 3 years and renewable for another 3 years. This permit allows you to work in seasonal employment for a maximum period of 6 months out of every 12 months.

Yes, for all long stay work visas your family can accompany you. The category of visa issued to your family will depend on your visa. Your employer will need to start the ‘accompanying family member’ procedure at the same time as she/he starts the procedure for your long-stay work visa.

Yes, but it is called an “Exceptional Economic Contribution Permit”. This permit is for investors investing substantial funds in France OR intent to creating more than 50 jobs in France. They then qualify for a 10 years residence permit and their spouse and (minor) children automatically qualify and get the same rights as the main applicant.

Yes, France now recognises same-sex marriages and they have equal rights in front of the law as heterosexual couples.

Yes and France even has a legal term for it – PACS (“Pacte Civil de Solidarité”) which means “contract of civil partnership, contact of civil union” and can be agreed on between 2 people of different sex or same sex to formalise their life in common. This form of union can be dissolved unilaterally. The PACS exists ONLY in France.


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