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Obtaining Work Authorization in France


Daniel Tostado


March 22, 2023


08:33 AM

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What does “Opposability of Employment” mean in French work visa applications? The principle known in French as the “opposabilité à l’emploi” means that the French authorities are going to want to refuse a work authorization request unless one can overcome their high burden of proof, in the name of protecting the French labor market.

Let’s explain with an example: let’s say you are American, and a friend who runs a Parisian café wants to hire you as a waiter. So, they put in an application for work authorization so that they can hire you. What will the French government say, do you think?

They’re going to want to say “non,” because there are 500 million people in the European Economic Area, French unemployment is at 7%, and they think there is a French or EU national who could likely take that job before you. This is then the application of this concept of “opposability” when it comes to your work authorization request.

There are several ways to overcome this burden of opposability. If, for example, you’re applying for a rocket scientist job, and you have a PhD in astrophysics, then there’s a good chance they aren’t going to oppose it, because you are demonstrating you are “skilled enough” to take on this role, and that you aren’t really taking the job that belonged to a French/EU national, because it’s such a specific job role.

There is then a spectrum of jobs between waiter and rocket scientist, depending on the specificity and skillset in question for a job, that will determine if you overcome the burden of the opposability of employment.

How does it work to hire a foreigner?

The general process is that a job must appear online on the French unemployment website Pôle Emploi for 3 weeks. Then, once the company has a shortlist of candidates, they determine that you, the foreigner, are the very best one for the job, and they submit that to the French work authority. If they decide in your favor (which is a big if!), then you can file for an employee visa and move to France.

What about Talent Passport?

One exception to this whole process is if your salary and educational background are high enough to skip the work authorization, such as for the Talent Passport European Blue Card visa. In this case, they think you’re “highly skilled” enough to not need to ask first for work authorization. There are 10 types of Talent Passport visas.

What about a young graduate of a French master’s degree?

This is another way to skip the work authorization process – if you studied in France, obtained French master’s degree, and receive a French contract at a salary more than 1.5 times minimum wage, then you can skip the job posting online. However, you still must ask for work authorization, but can assume it will be approved.

Born and raised in San Diego, California, Daniel is a dual-qualified French-US attorney, and practices exclusively French in-bound immigration, with a focus on private clients.

👉 Send Daniel a message or book a consultation today!

Image Above (c) "Paris, France, Mozilla work week, March 2014" by Robert Nyman is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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