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By Rick Mitchell
As the U.S. under Donald Trump looks to be closing the door on foreign tech talent, France's new president Emmanuel Macron has said he wants to make his country a “start-up nation.” Macron promised during his campaign to ease France’s heavy business taxes and red tape as a way to boost the economy and create new jobs and has made clear he thinks foreign tech talent is a key means to achieve his economic goals.
Macron's government has announced new “fast-track” procedures for visas to attract foreign talent. These new visas are valid for four years, renewable, and extend to immediate family members. The “Passeport Talent” (talent passport) is available for three “tech talent profiles”—startup founders, employees, and investors—each with its own requirements:
Startup founders need to have financial resources at least equal to the French annual minimum wage, which as of Jan. 1 was 17,763.20 euros ($20,294), and must have an economically “innovative startup” project to develop in France. Once the project has been certified by the government, a long-stay visa and residence permit may be applied for.
To get the tech visa for employees, applicants must have a job offer of at least three months with a gross annual salary of at least 35,526.40 euros ($40,652) from one of 70 “hyper-growth” companies eligible to recruit under the program. Applicants must have at least a master's degree. The employer must provide a signed and stamped work contract and a letter attesting that the company is eligible to recruit under the program before the long-stay visa and residence permit may be applied for.
Investors can qualify for a tech visa by opening a venture capital firm in France, investing directly into a startup as a “business angel,” or getting recruited as an investor by an existing French venture capital firm. Unless recruited by a French venture capitalist, applicants must be investing at least 300,000 euros ($343,308) in fixed tangible or intangible assets in France, either directly or through a company in which the applicant has at least a 30 percent stake. The applicant must own at least 10 percent of the company in which it is investing and create or protect jobs during the four years the tech visa is valid.
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Additional information on the tech visa is available in English here.
For more information on French HR law and regulation, see the France primer.
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