What is the change? France has launched a French Tech Visa route for three types of international tech talent: startup founders, employees of designated companies selected for high growth potential, and investors.

What does the change mean? Successful applicants will have access to fast-track procedures to obtain residence permits (Talent Passports) for themselves and their spouses without needing to undergo additional work permit procedures.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: French Tech Visas.
  • Who is affected: Foreign startups establishing a company in France, foreign employees recruited by one of 70 select tech companies, foreign investors in a French startup.
  • Impact on processing times: The visa route provides fast-track residence permit procedures without the need to apply for a separate work permit.
  • Business impact: The streamlined procedures should make France a competitive destination for tech startups and employees of approved sponsors, as well as investors. The number of companies approved to sponsor employees under the tech visas is currently small but is expected to grow.

Background: The new visa routes fulfill a campaign promise by newly elected President Emmanuel Macron, and are intended to boost France’s tech sector and create jobs by attracting foreign talent and investment. Successful applicants are granted a renewable four-year residence permit under the Talent Passport category.

The qualifying criteria for each of the three tech visa routes is outlined below.

  • Startup founders: Must have approval by a French partner incubator or accelerator to start and develop an innovative project in France, and have financial resources equivalent to the French annual minimum wage (currently €17,763.20).
  • Employees: Must be sponsored by an eligible French company, hold a master’s degree or higher, sign a work contract with a duration of three months or longer, and earn a gross annual salary equivalent to twice the French minimum wage (currently€35,526.40). The list of eligible sponsor entities will be periodically expanded and updated.
  • Investors: Available to foreign venture capital firms opening an office in France, foreign investors recruited by French venture capital firms, or a business angel moving to France. Venture capital firms and business angels must invest at least €300,000 in fixed tangible or intangible assets either directly or via a company in which they hold at least a 30-percent share, and create jobs or commit to create or protect jobs within four years of the investment.

BAL Analysis: France is competing for global tech talent by offering streamlined access to residency to qualifying tech workers, investors and founders. The introduction of the tech visas follows France’s recent overhaul and simplification of its visa categories and should make it an attractive location for investors, innovators and employees recruited by an approved sponsor.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in France. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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