passeport talent

How to Apply for the Passeport Talent Visa

Americans have had the Profession Liberale and Long-term Stay Visitor statuses closed for application from the US for some time now due to Covid-19.  Other countries do have these options available and Americans who have had legal residence in other countries have successfully applied for and received these statuses from the embassies/consulates in those countries and have subsequently entered France.  One status has remained open to Americans applying from the US: Passeport Talent, a status I had helped clients with in a limited capacity in previous years.  But a colleague of mine has watched many friends get it over the years and is now helping those who are stateside and do not want to wait for PL or Visitor to re-open (and who don’t fancy the student route) to get this visa.  I had her write this brief look at three of the 11 classifications available within Passeport Talent for this article.  I’ve added some editorial notes in italics but if you’d like help with this visa classification you can contact Molli at the link at the bottom of the article. – SH

Here’s how to apply for the Passeport Talent Visa

For non-Europeans looking to come to France to live, your best bet has long been the student visa. Even for those who thought their student days were long behind them, traveling to France for some continued education is by far the easiest way. And, continued education doesn’t mean that you need to sign up to do another undergrad or Master’s degree. You can obtain a student visa if you take French classes or attend a cooking school, among other options.

But then 2020 arrived and our lives changed. Traveling wasn’t as easy as before (if it was even allowed) and moving to a foreign country became a distant memory of something that you may have considered. Even college students had to put their study abroad semesters on hold, and if you did manage to get a student visa for yourself, your spouse or children weren’t necessarily able to apply for their own visas through yours. 

But there’s always another way, if you look hard enough. If you’re feeling frustrated and aren’t sure what to do, I’m glad you found this blog. Here’s how to apply for a different type of visa for France, the Passeport Talent. 

What is it?

Passeport Talent is a fancy French way of saying that if you’ve got talent, come and share your skills in France! It is a multi-year residence permit that was created to bring talented foreigners to France in order to develop the county’s “attractiveness.” As if France wasn’t attractive enough, right? Well, if you’ve got a special skill that you want to bring over to the français, you can, thanks to the passeport talent

Who can apply?

You can apply if you’re planning on working and living in France for more than three months. You’ll remember that people from many non-European countries are allowed to visit and live in Europe without a visa for 90 days. The passeport talent ensures that you’re allowed to stay for much, much longer. This long-term visa (otherwise known as a residence permit) is issued for up to 4 years and is renewable.

In order to apply, you must be from a non-European country. 

How to do it

If you’re still in your home country, you’re required to apply at the nearest French consulate. IF you’re already in France and are interested in changing your visa status, you’ll need to go to the closest prefecture. To start, you’ll have to provide these documents:

  • Your passport
  • Your birth certificate (translated in French by an officially licensed translator)
  • Your wedding certificate, if you are married (translated)
  • Your children’s birth certificate, if you have any (translated)
  • Proof of address
  • Three ID photos
  • Application (different according to your activity)
  • Official documents related to your activity.

It will cost you 269€ to get the final card.

So, who can receive the passeport talent? There are 11 different scenarios in which you could potentially get one, but for the sake of this article, I will briefly examine three of them. I encourage you to visit the official French website for this type of visa if you don’t see an option below that works for you. 

You want to create a business in France, or are taking control of one

(this is ideal if you have some money set aside for yourself and is essentially a more financially muscular Prof Lib – SH)

  • You’ll apply for “passeport talent – création d’entreprise.
  • You must prove that you have a serious plan to open a business in France. 
  • You’re required to invest at least 30,000€ in your project, have a degree that is equivalent to a Master’s degree (or are able to prove that you have five years of professional experience in your field)
  • You are also able to apply for the passeport talent – création d’entreprise if you are slated to take control of a French business.
  • You’ll need to show proof of the plans for your new business as well as proof of your investment, your diploma, that you’ll be earning at least the French minimum wage (roughly 1,500€ gross per month), and you must fill out this application.

You are an artist, a writer, or a performer

(this is perfect if you were already planning to come as a writer on Prof Lib – SH)

  • You’ll apply for “passeport talent – profession artistique et culturelle.
  • If you’re a singer, performer, author, or simply an artist, you must prove that you earn at least 1,064.85€ gross per month.
  • You’ll need to provide documents that prove that you are a professional artist, and if you are employed by a French company, you’ll need proof of that too. That being said, you can apply for this visa even if you are self-employed. You must fill out this application as well.

You are making a direct economic investment in France

(if you had dreams of opening a B&B or some other larger traditional business, this is a good route for you.  Simply buying a property is insufficient in and of itself.  The investment must create/save jobs. – SH)

  • You’ll apply for “passeport talent – investissement économique – toutes activités commerciales.
  • You must prove that you are investing at least 300,000€ in a French company that you own or through a company in which you hold at least a 30% share of the capital.
  • You must also prove that you will create or save jobs and you must have proof of your plans for your investment, and you must also be earning at least the French minimum wage (roughly 1,500€ gross per month). 

These are just three of the possible situations which would allow you to apply for the passport talent. Like all things in the French administration, the application process is long and very involved. I have done significant research on the subject, and I also know quite a few people who have managed to get this visa. If you’re interested, feel free to contact me for private consultations and help along the way. 

Photo courtesy of Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

student visa

Obtaining a Student Visa for France

Over the summer I gave a series of webinars on moving to France (recordings available on Nomadic Matt’s Patreon).  One of the strategies I suggested for coming to France in the short term (given that some visa windows were indefinitely closed) was the student visa.  A “student” visa doesn’t necessarily mean getting enrolled in a degree-seeking program.  It just means any course of study.  France continued to rubber stamp these all throughout 2020, despite the fact that many of the programs were online, meaning that even though you didn’t have to physically come to France to “take” the course, France still approved you for transit.  I concluded that France wanted to continue to signal that they were making a conscious choice to at least appear to allow education to continue even as they forbade commerce and leisure travel.

One of my friends and colleagues in my years here in France, Molli McConnell, has gone through the student visa process twice and I asked her to write a guest post on the process.  She also does consulting on the process, so her information is at the bottom of the post should you wish to learn more. – SH.

The first time I ever stepped foot in France was as a student in 2012. I was there to do the elusive “study abroad semester,” which has a reputation of being more about soaking in the culture of wherever you go rather than taking classes. Spoiler alert, the rumors are true. Although I will say I attended most of my classes, they were nothing compared to the workload I was used to at my university. I had an architecture course in which the professor actually took us around Paris to explain treasures like Notre-Dame and Les Invalides. Interesting? Extremely. Do I remember everything about the architecture I learned about? Seeing as we didn’t have any exams, no. 

In addition to 2012 being the first time that I stepped foot in France, it was the first time that I had ever left the United States. I never really considered myself a homebody or uninterested in travel, but an international trip was just not on my radar at the time. I didn’t even have a passport. 

Fast-forward to 2020, and in total, I have about seven years of French living under my belt, three student visas, one au pair visa (when that still existed), and one visa I have courtesy of my French fiancé. I’ll soon find out what the newest chapter in my immigration journey, marriage, will be like. 

Whether you’re in the same situation as I was in 2012, or you have a bit more international travel experience, navigating the world of French bureaucracy can be intimidating. This is the country that is known around the world for its “red tape.” And, to be honest with you, it is a lot to figure out especially if you don’t speak French or have never applied for a visa before. 

In these unpredictable Covid times, the easiest (and most plausible unless you are in a relationship with a French person) way to move to France as an American for more than 90 days is through a student visa. Don’t let the word “student” scare you, especially if you’re not a teenager or in your twenties anymore. You could take a French language course, a culinary program, or simply shoot for another degree…for 1/10th of the price of American schools.

In an effort to help those interested navigate these sometimes murky waters, I’ve come up with this basic guide to obtaining a French student visa. 

Step 1: Determine your program

The most important thing you’ll need to do before you get started on the path to obtaining a French student visa is to find a program. It’s important to note that not all programs will make you eligible for a visa. You will need to be enrolled in classes that are between 18-20 hours per week or more. Here are a few examples of the types of programs you should be looking for:

  • A study abroad or exchange program (if you are currently enrolled in a college or university this is your best option)
  • A degree-granting program 
  • French language program (please note that the program must be FLE accredited)
  • A specialized school in France

You must be accepted into the program of your choice before you move onto Step 2. And, remember, don’t get discouraged if you don’t want to take French classes or go back to college. As mentioned, if you love to cook or are interested in wine, there are several options. Does the famous Le Cordon Bleu, ring any bells? Channel your inner Julia Child and check out their options. 

You won’t be able to apply for your student visa until at most 3 months before your program starts, so keep that in mind as you continue on through the process. 

Step 2: Apply through Études en France and Campus France

Once you’ve been accepted into your program, you’re ready to start the process of applying for your student visa. First, you’ll need to make an account on Études en France, a platform that was created by the French government to make applying for a visa easier. 

Once you create your account you’ll have to follow the instructions on the site. It involves knowing the name of your program and finding it on a list, entering your personal information including your name and passport number, and other administrative information. There is an option for “students not yet accepted,” but I do recommend that you wait until you have been accepted to begin the process as it’s much easier. 

Études en France and Campus France are connected so after you’ve filled in all of your information, you’ll be able to directly submit it to Campus France via the Études en France platform. You will also have to pay a fee of $190 (subject to change) to Campus France. It can take up to 3 weeks for Campus France to review your application. You will receive a confirmation email if and when you are approved.

Step 3: Apply for a student visa via the France-Visas platform

Once your application has been approved by Études en France and Campus France, you will move to the next platform, France-Visas. You already know that you need a student visa, so feel free to skip the “Do I need a visa?” step. Create your account and fill out the application form. Here you’ll note that “Visa applications cannot be submitted more than 3 months prior to the start of your trip for a long stay visa, and 6 months for a short stay visa” as I mentioned! Please also note that you will need to pay another fee of $37.15 (subject to change) when you’ve finished filling out your application.

Step 4: Make an appointment at the VFS Global Center closest to your home

After you’ve submitted your application on France-Visas, you’ll be able to directly book an appointment at the VFS Global Center closest to your home. It’s recommended on the site that you make your appointment at least 15 days before the date of your departure. In my experience, the longest I’ve had to wait to receive my visa was 7 days, but, I was also in Boston.  Your consulate’s waiting time may vary.

Step 5: Go to the appointment and then wait to receive your visa

You’ve made it this far and for that, I congratulate you! But, you’re not out of the woods yet, as you still need to attend your in-person appointment where you’ll need to present a fair amount of paperwork in order to obtain your visa. You will need:

  • France-Visas Visa application form
  • France-Visas receipt of payment
  • ID Photograph (please note that this needs to be a “European-size passport-style headshot” which is 1.4 inches by 1.8 inches)
  • If you are a non-U.S. citizen, proof of your legal status in the U.S.
  • Passport
  • Campus France USA confirmation email
  • Études en France electronic acceptance letter
  • Proof of accommodation in France (this can be an Airbnb or hotel while you look for something more permanent)
  • Proof of sufficient funds for your time in France

Pro tip? Bring at least 3 copies of everything. It’s a lot, I know. But you’ll have to get used it this amount of paperwork if you’re going to be living in France! At your appointment, they’ll ask you pretty standard questions such as why you want to move to France, why you chose your program, etc. Try not to be too nervous and just be honest.

Step 6: Begin preparing for your trip to France!

Now for the fun part: preparing for your long-awaited new life in France. Consider where you want to live, what you want to bring along, and your new daily routine. The road to the French student visa may be long, but it isn’t as complicated as it looks! 

If you are interested in a private consultation on how to obtain a French student visa, or what happens after your visa expires and you want to stay in France, please feel free to email me at mollimcconnell@gmail.com to get started.

Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash