Excerpted from the France Career Guide
Traveling to France generally requires a visa; both the person’s nationality/citizenship and the passport determine whether or not one must apply for a visa. An entry permit (visa) or residence permit is generally required for all extended stays and for individuals seeking employment or planning to study in France. The length of stay in France determines whether a visitor must apply for an entry permit (visa) or a residence permit to enter France.
France is a member of the Schengen Convention whose purpose is to eliminate controls at common borders and promote the free movement of people within the Schengen area. The countries covered under the Schengen Agreement include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Any student wishing to study in France is required to register with CampusFrance to apply for admission and to obtain a student visa. There are two types of student visas in France. A short-term student studying in France for less than three months may apply for a short-stay Student Visa. Students from visa-exempt countries may stay in the country for three months or less without short-stay Student Visas. A student staying more than three months may apply for a long-stay Student Visa. Students staying more than six months are subject to additional requirements.
Employer-Sponsored Visa (short/long stay)
In order to work in France, a valid French work permit is required. The employer-sponsored work permit may be obtained at the local police station (Préfecture) after a visa is issued from the French consulate in the applicants’ country of residence. This visa is valid only in France and cannot be issued once the applicant is in France.
The Long-Stay Visa authorizes foreign nationals to remain for periods longer than six months. Once in France, it is necessary to apply for a residency permit (carte de séjour). The Long-Stay Visa holders are also entitled to transit through another country in the Schengen Area on the way to France and to move freely throughout the Schengen Area for a visa’s entire period of validity. The main reasons for issuing this type of visa are study, work and family visits. Specific documents, pertaining to the reason for the visit, are required to support the visa application.
Short-stay (Schengen) visas
Schengen Visas can be issued when the purpose of the visit is leisure, business or short-term study. Upon the issuance of the visa, the visa holder is allowed to enter all member countries and travel freely throughout the Schengen area. A Schengen Visa allows the holder to travel freely within the Schengen countries for a maximum stay of up to 90 days in a six-month (180 days) period from the entry date into the Schengen area. The time limit relates to the combined residence in the entire Schengen area, not just in one state. Each Schengen state has decided which travel documents citizens of different third countries have to present upon entering the country.
All French work permit applications are dealt with by the local Direction Departmentale du Travail, de L'Emploi et de la Formation Professionale (DDTEFP) on a town-by-town basis. It is therefore impossible to give absolute processing times as it varies depending on the workload of the local office.
The following work permits are available:
· The ‘Skills and Talents’ permit
· The ‘Salaried’ and ‘Temporary Worker’ permit
· The New ‘Employee on Assignment’ permit
· The ‘Scientific’ permit
French diplomatic and consular office
This is just a short sample of what you’ll find in over 100 pages of information in the complete France Guide.