APRIL 2021 UPDATE: As of April 1st 2021, the process to sponsor a foreigner for a work permit has changed. Previously processed through the DIRECCTE, as of April 6th companies need to apply via a new online service, with the request being treated by the company’s local prefecture. How they make their decision has also changed, as they now take into account the unemployment rate for that occupation in that geographical area, among other criteria. I don’t know if it’ll make the process simpler or more difficult. For more information, visit the service public page or read the official decree. I’m keeping up my blog posts unaltered in case some information may still be relevant but please keep in mind this is no longer exactly how things are done. This concerns Part 1 of the series in particular – as far as I’m aware, the steps related to VFS & OFII (Part 2) and applying for a CDS at the prefecture (Part 3) have not changed.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer or an immigration expert, and I cannot promise that following my advice will guarantee you a work permit in France. I am just sharing my own experience. There are many variables involved that will influence whether or not you’d be approved to get a carte de séjour salarié.
Getting salarié status in France has been a very long process, that required many steps and many months of work, stress, and paperwork! So much so, that I’ve had to break it down into multiple blog posts, to be published as I continue to work towards acquiring a longed-for 4-year carte de séjour salarié.
Now that I’m nearing my goal, I decided that it was time to update this series. This time, I will cover applying for the actual visa, as well as going through OFII once back in France.
Step-by-Step Process to Getting a Carte de Séjour Salarié
In my first post on this subject, I covered points 1-5 of the following list of the necessary steps to take to get salarié status:
- Find a company who is willing to sponsor you,
- Have the company advertise the job on Pôle d’Emploi or another job posting organism for 2-6 weeks (the longer, the better),
- Together with them, put together a dossier to send to the DIRECCTE, that presents you as a foreign candidate that they’d like to hire,
- Wait for a response from the DIRECCTE. If approved, it will be sent to OFII.
- OFII will transmit your papers to your local embassy,
- Your local embassy will contact you to make an appointment to receive your visa,
- You will receive a temporary work visa, which allows you to enter France and begin work,
- You will need to register with OFII upon your arrival,
- Undergo a medical control, after which you will receive a certificate,
- Do a personal interview with OFII and attend civic classes,
- Once you have all your OFII documents, you can make an appointment at your local préfecture to request a carte de séjour salarié a few months before the expiry of your visa.
- Once you’ve made your appointment, you’ll need to prepare your dossier.
- On the date and time listed on your convocation, you’ll need to go to the prefecture to renew your titre de séjour salarié and request a card.
- A few weeks to months following your appointment, you’ll receive a SMS from the prefecture asking you to come pick up your carte de séjour salarié.
In this post, I will go more into depth about steps 6-10, while steps 11-14 will be in part 3.
6. Contact from the French Consulate/VFS
After my work received a letter from OFII that they’d transmitted my paperwork to the French consulate in Montréal, and said I’d be contacted by them to make an appointment, I impatiently waited for weeks to hear something. No call, no letter, no email… nothing.
All French visas in Canada are now handled by VFS, so I reached out to them to try to get answers, seeing as any emails I sent to the consulate were met with radio silence, and there was no phone number available to call. This was stressful in itself, as VFS knew nothing about salarié and insisted that the consulate never receives any paperwork from France (not true), and that I was waiting for nothing.
By some miracle, three weeks or so after the receipt of my OFII letter, I received an email from a director at VFS inviting me to apply for a visa salarié. It included a copy of my CERFA forms (with approval stamps from the DIRECCTE and OFII), as well as a short list of documents I’d need to furnish at the appointment.
Making an Appointment for a French Visa
Making an appointment with VFS is a twofold process: you need to complete your application for the relevant French visa on the official website (which will be sent to the consulate, and which you will also need to print out and bring along with whatever is on the checklist to your VFS appointment). Before submitting, you will also need to make appointment on the VFS website.
I go into further detail about my experience with VFS in Montréal in a dedicated blog post.
7. Applying For a Visa Salarié for France
Once I completed my application and made my appointment (a quick process considering VFS typically has loads of availability – you’re likely to even be able to make an appointment the day before!), I was off to Canada.
I chose to apply in Montréal as it’s where the consulate is also located, and I thought that perhaps it would speed up the process (as no matter where you apply in Canada, all applications get sent to Montréal).
At my appointment I brought my completed application, the papers asked for on the checklist (copy of CERFA forms emailed to me, translated university degree, work certificates, French CV…), and other documents I thought might be good to add such as my French social security information and my rental contract in Paris.
Again, I go into further detail about my experience with VFS in the aforementioned blog post, so if you’d like to learn more about the visa application click here.
After applying, I flew cross-country to stay with my family. I was provided with a tracking number to track the progress of my application, and to my surprise my visa was being mailed back a few days later. Around a week after applying, I had my visa salarié, valid for 12-months and renewable. VFS had informed me it would take 30 working days, so I was very pleasantly surprised!
I do think the speediness of my application was affected by the fact it was “off-season” (I applied in April and most people – notably students – apply in the summer), but in general I believe salarié visas are sent back faster due to the fact they’ve been pre-approved in France, and we aren’t required to give much paperwork (so less things for the consulate to analyze before making their decision!).
8. Returning to France & Registering with OFII
Upon the receipt of my salarié visa, I booked my flight back to Paris. All in all, I was only back in Canada for two weeks.
Within three months of your arrival with a visa salarié, you will need to validate your visa on the Etrangers en France website. This includes verifying information such as passport number, visa number, etc., and paying a 269€ tax.
Once validated, an account will be created for you on the website. Within a few weeks, you should also normally receive an email from OFII containing convocations for two appointments with them: the medical exam and the personal interview.
9. The OFII Medical Exam
The first OFII appointment I was called to complete was the mandatory medical exam. There, I was seen by five different doctors, who tested me for various diseases, took my basic information (such as height, weight, and eyesight), had a chest X-ray, and interviewed me about my health and medical history.
At the end of the examination, I was given a certificate that certified I was healthy enough to work in France. This document is important to keep, as you’ll need to present it at the préfecture when applying for a carte de séjour.
I go into depth about the medical exam (and how you can prepare for it) in a dedicated blog post.
10. The OFII Interview & Civic Classes
A week or so after my medical examination, I was called to a different OFII office to conduct my personal interview.
This meeting with OFII takes a half day and consists of an overview of what OFII is and what your obligations are to them to successfully immigrate, a short French exam, as well as a one-on-one interview.
The written French exam lasts 20 minutes, and is for the A1 level. They will use the results from this, as well as your level of oral French (determined through the interview), to determine whether you need mandatory French classes. If you do not pass the exam, these classes are a must, otherwise you will not be issued a carte de séjour.
In the interview, I was asked about my personal situation, such as whether I already had a job, whether I was covered by social security and had a mutelle, whether I had a place to live, etc… I already had all these things, but if I didn’t they would’ve given me the resources to get them. I also had to sign a contract of integration, and together with my interviewer find suitable dates for mandatory civic classes which would consist of four whole days of classes over the course of a few months.
Like with the medical exam, I wrote a dedicated blog post about the OFII interview if you want more details.
In Part 3 of this series, I discuss applying for a carte de séjour, the appointment at the prefecture, and being issued a multi-year carte de séjour salarié.
If you missed Part 1 of the series and would like to read it, click here.
I’m going through this same process now. I got my visa but the Embassy didnt give me a copy of my work permit (with the stamps).My employer said I cant start working unitl I get it and Immigration said they will only give it to me after my medical visit. I still stay in an airbnb so I can’t apply for medical visit until I get a residence I can declare (I have found one for November).
Immigration said I can start working like that but the legal department of my employer said I can’t start wthout the document.
I honestly didnt budget for this delay and its eating into my savings. Do you have any advice for me.
I’m a bit confused – did you apply for salarié status in France while switching statuses, or did you apply for a visa at the French embassy in your home country? Do you hold any type of French visa or carte de séjour currently? For me I applied in Canada (I’m Canadian) at the VFS center, and the embassy mailed me back my passport with the salarié visa inside (no stamps, just a sticker with my photo + working status + validity date of 1 year). I validated my visa upon arrival online, and was then invited by OFII for the medical visit. I was able to begin working prior to my medical visit (my employer didn’t even ask to see proof I’d done it as that information is just for the prefecture when renewing your titre de séjour – it has no impact on your ability to work or not). If you have a visa or titre de séjour issued by a French embassy or the prefecture, you can begin work as of the start date of said visa/card.
If by work permit you mean the CERFA form stamped by the DIRECCTE and OFII, OFII gives that to you during your interview with them. But I had been emailed a copy by VFS prior to my visa application, and my employer had also received a copy (in addition to approval letters from DIRECCTE and OFII beforehand), so I’m confused as why your employer is asking you for this, as if they applied to the DIRECCTE on your behalf (which companies need to do when sponsoring foreigners for salarié status), they should’ve received copies already.
I hope that this is helpful! Please let me know if you have any other questions.
Hello Katrina. Your response has been quite insightful. I applied for the visa from my home country and I’m going to the OFII office in Marseille tomorrow to clarify all of this. When you applied online for the Medical visit how long did it take for you to get an appointment? Whats the waiting time?
In this case, if you have the sticker in your passport and it says salarié or any other status that authorizes you to work, you can begin working legally from the start date of the visa. No need to have the work permit paper or medical certificate for your employer before they allow you to start working, as it could very well be a few months before you have these depending on how fast the OFII office in Marseille is (in Paris it can be incredibly slow…). If your employer is confused about this, have them contact the prefecture in Marseille, who can confirm that you’re allowed to start working already.
You don’t apply online for a medical visit. How it works, is that within 3 months of arrival in France you need to validate your visa online (you should have gotten a paper explaining this along with your visa when you got your passport back from the embassy). You need to pay a tax (for salarié it’s 269€) and validate all the information, adding arrival date in France, your address in France, etc. Once this information is submitted, OFII will be signalled by the immigration authorities that you paid your tax and confirmed your presence in France, and then they’ll reach out to you via email, including convocations for both your initial interview and medical visit. I received this email from OFII 3-4 weeks after validating my visa online, but as it says it depends on where you are and the OFII office attached to it, so Marseille could be faster or slower. You can’t have the medical visit before you pay the tax and validate the visa.
Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any other questions!
I just received my 4 year carte de séjour after working 2 years almost to the day (received the card after asking for a year with no reply. Finally sent a registered letter in the post and immediately received an email saying it was ready). My question now is, if I want to apply for a new job, is it only possible to do so in the field of what is listed on the back of the card? I’m trying to move away from my current profession.
Admittedly I’m not sure. My 4 year card doesn’t have any specific field or employer listed, neither do the 4 year cards of my friends with salarié status. I would ask the prefecture directly what to do in your case if you want to switch employer.