Written by Me Clarisse DELAITRE, Advocate in Paris.

France has risen to first place in the ranking of the most attractive European countries for foreign investors. In order to improve the attractiveness of the territory and to simplify the recruitment of talent on the international scene, France has implemented particularly advantageous measures to welcome foreigners, in particular the Talent Passport, introduced by the law of March 7, 2016 (Section L. 313-20 6° and R 313-61 of the Code of Entry and Residence of Foreigners and the Right of Asylum (CESEDA)). This four-year renewable residence permit has been the subject of a real craze since no less than 35,000 Talent Passports were issued in 2019.

Alt="Founders of international start-ups: France welcomes you with the Talent Passport!"

In this dynamic, many foreigners have chosen to create their start-up in France. To enable them to carry out their professional activity, the multi-year residence permit « Passeport Talent – Carrier of an innovative economic project recognized by a public body » has been created.  This card allows entry into France with a long-stay visa, without having a medical examination organized by the OFII and without having to sign a republican integration contract. In addition, another significant advantage is that no work permit must be obtained, and the employment situation in France is not opposable.

What are the conditions to benefit from the Talent Passport for founders of international start-ups? How long is the Talent Passport valid? What is the status of the family? What is the procedure for obtaining this residence permit?

What are the conditions for obtaining this Talent Passport – Carrier of an innovative economic project recognized by a public body?

To obtain the Talent Passport, the founders of international start-ups must justify the existence of an innovative economic project that they wish to develop in France.

The competent body to recognize the innovative character of a company is the Ministry in charge of the economy. Presents the character of an innovative company, the company that meets one of the following criteria:

  • the company is or has been a beneficiary during the last 5 years of public support for innovation appearing on a list fixed by decree (Arr. Feb. 28, 2019, NOR: ECOI1906051A: OJ, March 1 mod. ); (by arr. June 2, 2020, NOR: ECO12013596A: OJ, June 6)
  • the capital of the company is or has been during the last 5 years wholly or partly owned by an investment entity whose main purpose is to finance or invest in innovative companies (Decree no. 2020-283 of March 20, 2020 (JO, March 21) abolished since March 22, 2020 the determination by decree of the list of investment structures.);
  • the company is or has been supported during the last 5 years by a support structure dedicated to innovative companies (CESEDA, section D. 313-45-1 ).

The implementation of these criteria is subject to a joint annual evaluation by the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Economy.

In addition, the founders of start-ups must obtain recognition of this project by a public body (State, local authorities, public institutions, publicly owned companies, etc.).

Finally, they must justify sufficient means of existence with resources corresponding to the Minimum Growth Wage (SMIC), i.e. €18,654.96 as of January 1, 2021.

It should be noted that the supporting documents must be accompanied, if necessary, by a translation into French by a translator-interpreter sworn before the Courts of Appeal.

To obtain this residence permit, they can also take advantage of the French Tech Visa for Founders procedure, by being selected by a partner incubator. The list of these partners can be consulted at the following address lafrenchtech.com .

What is the period of validity of this Talent Passport?

  • Validity period

First, it is important to specify that the duration of validity of this title depends on the nature, characteristics, and duration of the project. The maximum duration of this Talent Passport is four years, renewable.

If the duration of the planned stay is less than one year, the foreign national can apply for a long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit (VLS-TS) with the mention « Talent Passport ». Its maximum period of validity is twelve months at the end of which the foreign national can apply for a residence permit « Talent Passport » for a period of four years.

  • Renewal

The request for renewal must be made within two months before the expiration of the residence permit, to the prefecture of the place of residence in France. The applicant will have to present the documents establishing that he continues to meet the conditions for the issuance of his title. The supporting documents required vary depending on whether the applicant indicates that he or she is continuing with the project or has already created a business in connection with the project.

  • Change of status

In the event of a change in professional situation, a change of status may be obtained, the application having to be made two months before the expiry of the residence permit and subject to meeting the eligibility conditions of the residence permit applied for.

At the end of five years of regular and uninterrupted residence in France, an application for a residence permit authorizing residence and the exercise of any professional activity is possible. This card is issued for a period of ten years (renewable).

What is the procedure to follow to obtain the Talent Passport?

If the founder of the start-up resides outside France, the French diplomatic and consular authorities of his or her place of habitual residence are competent to issue the long-stay visa.

The application for a long-stay visa bearing the mention « Passeport Talent » authorizing entry into France must be made on the official France-visas website no earlier than three months before the date of arrival in France. Upon arrival in France, this visa allows the exercise of the professional activity.

Once in France, the residence permit is given to the founder of the start-up by the prefect of the director’s department upon presentation of the long-stay visa and other supporting documents, previously provided to the Consulate. Upon arrival, the foreign national must contact the Prefecture of his place of residence to apply for the corresponding Passeport talent residence permit. The Prefecture determines the duration of the Passeport Talent residence permit issued.

Since the Brexit, British nationals must now also follow this procedure for any arrival in France after January 1, 2021.

If the applicant already resides in France and already has another residence permit, he or she must apply for a change of status with the Prefecture of his or her place of residence. The procedure must be initiated two months before the expiration of the previous residence permit.

What documents are required?

The precise list of documents is available to the applicant on the website of the authority in charge of processing his file and on France-visas.gouv.fr.

As an indication, these are mainly the following documents:

  • Long-stay visa
  • Passport (pages relating to civil status, validity dates and entry stamps)
  • A birth certificate with filiation or a complete copy of a birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate (complete copy or extract with filiation)
  • Extracts of birth certificates of children with filiation
  • Proof of residence dating less than 3 months old
  • 3 pictures
  • Document establishing the innovative nature of the economic project in France (in particular because of its nature, purpose and duration)
  • Document establishing the recognition of the project by a public body
  • Proof of resources greater than or equal to the minimum wage for a full-time position

What is the cost of this residence permit?

The founders of start-ups must pay a tax to the French Office for Immigration and Integration (« OFII » : Created in 1945, the OFII is a public administrative institution responsible for organizing the reception of asylum seekers and refugees on French soil.) in the amount of €200 upon delivery of the permit. A €25 stamp duty on residence permits is added to the amount of the tax. To this administrative cost of €225 is added the cost of the long-stay visa authorizing entry into France of €99.

What about the family ?

The spouse and dependent minor children of the holder of the « Talent Passport » benefit from the status of accompanying family.

The spouse who applies for this status is issued the « Passeport talent – Family » residence permit. This residence permit authorizes residence and any professional activity in France during the period of validity of the permit held by the foreign executive. This is a significant advantage when you consider that the majority of mobility projects are accompanied by the family. The administrative cost is €225 for the spouse’s residence permit and €99 per visa granted to each accompanying family member.

Family members can apply for a residence permit independent from that of the principal applicant. In this case, they cannot benefit from the simplified procedure described above.

Families also have the possibility to join France within the framework of family reunification. Family reunification concerns foreign nationals who have been legally residing in the national territory for at least 18 months and who wish to bring their spouse and children.

Conclusion

The Talent Passport mentioning « innovative economic project » is the residence permit of choice for foreign founders of start-ups in France. If its eligibility conditions are rigorous, obtaining it allows its beneficiary to carry out a commercial, industrial or artisanal activity for at least four years, while allowing his family to follow him in this international project.

The Talent Passport is also available for other categories of foreign talent: investors, qualified employees, recruitment by an innovative company, researchers, social agents, artistic and cultural professions, or world-renowned individuals. This residence permit is definitively part of the landscape of professional immigration.

Being accompanied by a lawyer who is an expert in professional immigration law and labor law is an undeniable asset that makes it possible to secure this residence permit and to assist the founders of foreign start-ups in the day-to-day social management of their companies.

Covid-19 crisis update: On February 3, 2021, the French authorities have modified the exemptions to the restrictions on entry into France via a non-European Union member country. To date, holders of a Talent Passport remain exempt from the ban on travel to France and are considered to have a compelling reason to enter France, unlike employees on secondment and intra-group mobility. The new travel certificate to enter or leave the territory can be found here .