What is the change? A law has been proposed in the National Assembly that would overhaul the rules for foreign nationals in France and reorganize the categories of foreigners and their terms and duration of validity.

What does the change mean? The changes have not taken effect, but are expected to be adopted by Parliament this summer.

  • Implementation time frame: Estimated mid-2016.
  • Visas/permits affected: Long-stay visas, work and residence permits.
  • Who is affected: Non-EEA foreign employees, assignees, intracompany transferees and their family dependents, as well as non-EEA trainees and students.
  • Business impact: The proposed law provides greater flexibility and mobility, particularly for non-EEA nationals already working in another EU member state and moving to France, but the law also calls for stricter enforcement and compliance.
  • Next steps: BAL is monitoring progress of the law and will follow up when it is adopted.

Background: The law would require that all foreigners staying in France for longer than three months hold an appropriate long-stay visa, temporary residence permit, multi-year residence permit or residence card.

The following categories would be created or reformed:

Passport talent. This would be an umbrella category for a number of streams, offering multi-year residence permits valid for up to four years. Each stream has its own educational and skills criteria. The streams include:

  • Master’s degree holders in paid employment or conducting research and development for a French company.
  • EU Blue Card applicants or those holding an EU Blue Card in another EU member state for at least 18 months.
  • ICT employees.
  • Researchers coming directly to France or those holding scientific researcher status in another EU member state under the EU Directive on Scientific Researchers.
  • Entrepreneurs.
  • Investors.
  • Foreign legal representatives of French companies.
  • Renowned scientists, artists, intellectuals, performers or high-level athletes.

Seconded ICTs and “Mobile Seconded ICTs.” Intracompany transferees may apply for a temporary residence permit valid for up to three years. ICTs working in another EU member state may transfer to an affiliated office in France under the ICT category for up to 90 days; for longer than 90 days, they may be eligible for a “mobile ICT seconded employee” for the same duration as the original assignment up to three years (reduced by the period already served in another EU country). Family members would follow in the same category and be allowed to work.

ICT Trainees and “Mobile ICT Trainees.” ICTs performing an internship in an affiliated French office may apply as an “ICT trainee” for a temporary residence permit. ICT interns coming to France from an affiliated office in an EU state may apply for a “mobile ICT trainee” permit valid for up to one year (reduced by the period already served in another EU country). Family members would have the same status and be allowed to work.

Employee/Entrepreneur. Foreign employees under an employment contract or self-employed entrepreneurs would apply overseas for a temporary residence permit valid for up to one year.

Residence permits. Residence permits will be issued to non EU-nationals who have legally and continuously resided in France for a period of five years, who demonstrate sufficient resources to live without public assistance of the EU country concerned and have health insurance.

The law would impose new requirements on foreigners and provides rules for revocation of status and deportation, as follows:

Integration contracts. Foreigners intending to settle in France would be required to enter into a contract demonstrating their French language skills and knowledge of French civics.

Enforcement. Authorities may carry out checks and revoke temporary or multi-year residence permits if the holder is not in compliance with all conditions of their status.

Ban on return. Foreigners ordered deported will have 30 days to leave voluntarily or face a ban of three or five years from returning to France. Those who evade a deportation or exclusion order or who re-enter in violation of a ban on entry can be sentenced to three years in prison, or five years if violence is involved. The same penalties apply to anyone assisting the individual in the offenses.

BAL Analysis: The proposed law is a comprehensive overhaul of the permit categories for foreign nationals in France; its impact will be clearer when a final version of the law is passed. BAL is following developments and will report when the changes take effect.

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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