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EULawyer, Lawyer
Category: French Law
Satisfied Customers: 247
Experience:  Titular Attorney (Avocat) at Ioan-Luca Vlad Law Office
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I am an American citizen looking to move to France and work

Customer Question

I am an American citizen looking to move to France and work as a freelancer. I already have one freelance job set up, but would like to hear the steps I will need to take and the visa I will need to apply for to make this happen. I think I will need to apply for a visa de long séjour and then apply to work once I arrive in France, but I am not sure. Any information on the steps I need to take would be hugely helpful. Thank you.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: French Law
Expert:  EULawyer replied 5 months ago.

Welcome to JustAnswer!
As your European Law expert, I am reviewing your question and will try to find a good answer for you.

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Great. Looking forward to your help
Expert:  EULawyer replied 5 months ago.

Dear Customer,

Thank you for your question. The reason for your confusion is that there is no particular visa for "freelance" work. The visa system was established before such work became a practical possibility for most people. The other reason is that freelance work is not seen positively by the state, because very easily you could lose clients and fall back on to their social security system.

The other thing is that for long sejour visas, you need to declare the purpose before you obtain the visa. You may not declare one purpose, and then do something else while in the country.

The visa which would fit what you wish to do is the "Long stay visa for commercial, industrial or artisanal activity in France".

This visa allows you to come to France, begin your activity, and within 2 months of your arrival, request a Carte de Sejour, which is the card enabling you to remain in France long-term. Specifically, you will be able to request a Carte de Sejour for 1 year, which can then be renewed and leads eventually to permanent residence.

The paperwork for this visa is quite complicated. The full list is available here ( You will need all the documents in Section A and from Section B the ones listed under "pour l'exercice d'une activite en nom propre / creation d'activite", specifically 10, 11, 12a and 13a. You will note that a rental / lease contract for the place where you wish to undertake the activity will be needed.

Note that "apply to work" is different from "freelancer". In legal terms, apply to work means employment. There are employment visas available, but you have to have an employer who offers you a secure job before applying for a visa (they need to go through some bureaucratic hoops as well, to hire a foreigner, specifically to obtain a certificate from the national labor office). You cannot go to France and work as an employee without an employee visa.

Freelancer, in legal speak, means you set up as a trader in France, based on the business plan you submit to the Embassy for the visa, register in the Trade Registry, and issue receipts to those who pay for your work, i.e. self-employed.

I hope my answer clarified matters and is useful, and look forward to your rating, which is essential to my activity.


Dr I L Vlad

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Thank you for your response. I am a little unclear on what you mean by setting up "as a trader...based on the business plan you submit to the Embassy for the visa...". I have heard of something called Portage Salarial, is that what you're referring to ?
Expert:  EULawyer replied 5 months ago.

Dear sir,

think you are confusing employment and self-employment. Portage Salarial is for employees.

What I meant with the business plan is in the document linked in my message. You will see there, at point 10, that one of the documents needed for your visa is "presentation of the project in French with a provisional budget for the coming years". That is, in other words, a business plan.

Since you will not be an employee, nor set up a company, but a freelancer, from the point of view of French law, you fall into the category of a 'trader'. Once you obtain the visa, based on the business plan, you go to France and set up as a trader by registering with the Trade Office, and the Tax Office, and requesting within 2 months of arrival, the long term stay Carte de Sejour.

Please let me know if I should explain any other aspect.


Dr I L Vlad

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Ok, so all I must do is go through the link you sent me and make sure to fill out each form mentioned ? It sounds simpler than I thought.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
I will be working for one company as a freelancer, not sure if that makes a difference.
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
while the money they will pay me might not be enough to support me, my parents will be supporting me as well.
Expert:  EULawyer replied 5 months ago.

Yes, exactly. You should look at the link, and fill in all the required documents. Some are not forms. For example, point 10 is a business plan which you will have to write from scratch with no form. But if you put together the documents, the visa should be forthcoming.

Regarding the company, if you are not formally employed by them, it makes no difference.

Wishing you the best success and looking forward to your rating, which is essential to my activity.


Dr I L Vlad