FAQ

Most frequent questions and answers

The French Tech Visa is an initiative by the French Government to support the French startup ecosystem both in France and internationally and attract new talent with experience in the technological area.

This instrument is designed to develop innovation and create jobs in the French economy, according to the new requirement of the market. The French Tech visa main purpose is to bring talent from around the world and improve the tech ecosystem as soon as possible. This special Visa is valid for four years and it is extended to immediate family members.

The French Tech Visa is a tool to obtain a residence permit for three types of international tech talent :

– Start-up founder : you must have financial resources at least equal to the French annual minimum wage, and economically innovative startup project that you plan to develop in France, approved by a French public organization called Direccte;
– Employee : for this you must have a graduate degree (master’s degree or higher), a work contract with a minimum duration of 3 months with a French company eligible to recruit via the French Tech Visa, a gross annual salary of at least twice the French minimum wage.
– Investor : to qualify you must be investing at least €300,000 in fixed tangible or intangible assets, or be investing either directly or via a company in which you have at least a 30% shareholding, or own at least 10% of the company in which you are investing, or be creating or protecting (or committing to create or protect) jobs within the four years following the investment.

The advantages of this program are the following :

– It is valid for four years, and is renewable (of course it gives the right to residency so that citizenship is available after 5 years);
– It is extended to immediate family members: spouses also receive residence permits authorizing them to live and work in France. Dependent children are authorized to live in France as well;
– No additional work permit is required.

French Tech Visa is regarded as a kind of under-category of the French Talent Passport, in force since Macron laws of 2016. In fact, the current trend is that it is becoming one of the main tools to be used by foreign investors.

Other Talent Passports are still doing well. As a reminder, The foreigners who may benefit from the “talent passport” are the following :

– Young graduated with a Master and already engaged in any paid professional activity or who found employment corresponding to their profiles;
– Graduated with a Baccalaureate +3 and already in a highly qualified employment, for one or more years or who have at least 5 years of professional experience in a senior position (executive level + high wage). This permit replaces the European Blue Card;
– Foreign employees carrying out an assignment for a maximum of 3 years in France, as part of an intra-group mission. This implies a contract between establishments within the same company or between companies within the same group. The employee must fulfill a job tenure requirement of at least three months in the group or the company based abroad;
– Highly skilled entrepreneurs with a Master degree, 5 years of experience at a high level position, who creates a company in France and attests to a real and serious economic project by investing at least 30.000 EUR in their company;
– Investors, through direct investments, such as investments in real estate or a company (min. 300.000 EUR);
– Legal representatives who are employees of a company in France or corporate officers outside France in an institution or company of the same group;
– Foreign employees hired by a young innovative company which delivers research and development projects, to perform tasks related to the research and development projects of the company;
– Foreign nationals who bring an innovative economic project, recognized by a public organization;
– Foreign nationals who conducts field research or provides university teaching as part of a hosting agreement signed by a public or private organization which has a research or higher education mission statement approved in advance, and holds a degree judged to be the equivalent to a Masters and (‘Researcher’ permit);
– Foreign nationals who practices the profession of artist-performer or is the author of a literary work or work of art. If they are engaged the minimum duration in employed activity of their employment agreement with a company or an establishment whose main activity involves the creation or exploitation of intellectual work, is determined by pre-set regulations, which is required for the issue of the permit;
– Foreign nationals whose national or international reputation is established and who comes to France to operate in a scientific, literary, artistic, intellectual, educative or sporting field.

Advantages :

– The recipient is exempted from soliciting a work permit to exercise one of the paid activities described above.
– This law grants its beneficiary a 4 years residence permit starting on the first stay authorization (and not, as usual, after the first year of regular stay on the territory). Thus, there is no need to apply for a residence permit, nor to renew the residence permit every year, which is a significant reduction of administrative burden.
– In case of involuntary employment loss within the 4 years, the multiannual card is renewed for another year. If needed, the permit is extended for a period equivalent to the length of the rights acquired through the un employment insurance benefitting workers deprived from employment.
– Last but not least, the law provides for the delivery of a multiannual residence card marked “Talent Passport-family” to the family of the beneficiary of the Talent Passport.
– The family passport/visa will be granted to the spouse of the employee if the former is at least 18 years’ old, and also to his children, if they were minor when they came to France, during the year following their 18th birthday.
– The duration of this permit is equivalent to the remaining period of validity of their parent’s or spouse’s stay permit.

For both French Tech and Talent Passport, the process is more or less the same :

(i) depending on the relevant category in your situation, we ask you to provide us with some documents. Some of them are formal (e.g., passport copy), others are useful to us in order to start your project (CV, diplomas);
(ii) we start to set up your project and the file to be submitted; this includes business plan and draft by- laws; this task takes approximately 3 weeks; for French Tech or Innovative project it implies to have an acceptance from incubators or specific public organisations.
(iii) on this basis you can apply at the Embassy or Consulate, with or without our assistance;
(iv) we follow up with the Administration in France and we reply to their questions about the business plan;
(v) in general, they make a decision within 2 months (an appeal is possible in case of refusal, or a new application).
Belgium applies the Directive 2011/98/EU since January 3rd, 2019. The conditions to obtain a « Single Work Permit » have changed but you can manage this process smoothly.

You will be an employee in Belgium, which implies that you must theoretically report to somebody (the “employer”). Of course, for this purpose you can be hired directly by a Belgian employer, which is in fact challenging when you are non-EU citizen (except if your foreign employer agrees to set up a Belgian subsidiary). But you can also be « sent (appointed) » in Belgium by any foreign company with a simple Belgian representative office (which is simple to create). The director of this foreign company must hold a degree (bachelor). If you own your company, the signing director can not be yourself, but no problem if it is one of your relatives.

The biggest advantages are (i) that the process is rather fast (2 to 4 months); (ii) that if the file is properly set up there is almost no risk of failure (99% of success rate); (iii) that you don’t need to apply at the Embassy to lodge the request.

ON THIS BASIS :

EITHER you hold a degree corresponding to Master / Bachelor (diploma after 3 years of studies granted by a recognized university in your country) AND you (or your employer) are able to fund a gross salary of approximately 3,500 EUR per month (+ approximately 1,500 EUR as social contributions). Depending on personal situations, the clear salary will be between 2,200 EUR and 2,500 EUR after taxes. As a result the cost will between 2,500 and 2,800 EUR per month;
OR you don’t have such degree but you (or your employer) can fund a salary of approximately EUR per month (cost approximately 7,500 EUR, clear salary approximately 4,000 EUR per month, costs approximately 3,500 EUR per month).

The amounts above have to be assessed case by case and taken into account an annual indexation.
The Single Work Permit gives access to residency. After 5 years of residency, you can apply for permanent residency and citizenship. It is possible that, for some reason, you or/and your employer decide to terminate the work contract in Belgium. In this case, as a resident you can apply more easily for a professional card in order to set up your own business, which avoids salary and related taxes.

The documents you need to provide us :
– Copy of the identity card of the employer or his agent;
– Copy of every page of the worker’s current passport;
– copy of the higher education degrees the interested party has obtained, to which will be attached a French translation by a sworn translator;
– An extract of the police records or equivalent document, certified, issued by the country of origin or the country of last residence of the worker and dated less than six months ago, declaring that the worker has not been sentenced for crimes or common law offences, to which will be attached a French translation by a sworn translator;
– Commitment from the employer to have the worker and their family members join a recognised mutual insurance fund as soon as they have arrived in Belgium (see the residency law of 15/12/1980);
– Certificate of registration or trade license of the employer.

The documents that we will send you for signature :
– Application forms;
– Medical certificate (to be filled by a doctor in your country);
– Special work contract for foreigners.

The process :
– We set up the file (including the Belgian company or the representative office) on basis of the above documents;
– We submit it to authorities (competent Region);
– They share it with Home Office;
– A decision is made within approximately 4 months (out of covid context which can slow down the process – we do not guarantee any timeframe at this time).

Important remarks :
– As lawyers we can be the “social representative”, which mandatory unless you already know a person in Belgium who would accept to act as such.
– As resident you will need an accomodation in Belgium, in order to register at city hall (for this step we can assist upon your request). You can find an accomodation for 1 person as from 400 EUR per month. The legal address of your professional activity can be at home if your owner agrees, if not you can for instance set your legal address in a virtual office (as from 150 EUR per month).
Obtaining French residency and/or citizenship can be a long way. But some "fast tracks" are available : VLS TS Visitor, French Degree, and other specific provisions hidden in the law.

VLS TS Visitor

Non-European nationals who wish to come to France for a long period (more than 3 months) for non-professional purposes can submit an application for VLS TS Visitor, ruled by Article L. 426-60 of CESEDA (French Code ruling Foreigners Stay and Residency)

This visa can be granted for a maximum period of one year, renewable as many times as the candidate meets the conditions. Thus, in the current state of the regulations, nothing prevents a holder of VLS TS who has stayed for 5 years from applying for naturalization, which naturally remains subject to the assessment by the administration of all the conditions governing the acquisition of French nationality.

This is a fairly short circuit and leaves little margin of appreciation to the administration as long as the file is properly set up.

This visa implies in particular a commitment not to work in France. On the other hand, sufficient financial resources to live for the duration of the stay are required; however, their level is quite low in theory: € 1,269 net monthly per person. Naturally, a higher amount is preferable. These can be own resources (annuities or pensions, income from real estate, etc.) or those of a family member.

Shorter residency paths leading to eligibility for citizenship

Some situations give rise to legal exception to the 5-year rule to apply for citizenship :

– Those who have rendered, or who can render, by their abilities and talents important services to the France;
– Those who present an exceptional path of integration, appreciated in relation to the activities carried out or the actions carried out in the civic, scientific, economic, cultural or sporting fields.

For these applicants, a residence of 2 years in the country is sufficient. For the sake of completeness, we must report that this is also the case, in some specific situations, for applicants having obtained a French degree.

Finally, in certain situations, no minimum duration of residency is required: refugees, persons who have completed military service in France and other exceptional cases after the opinion of the State.

Council – like applicants whose mother tongue is French or are citizens of a country where French is an official language, or have completed 5 years of school in French language. In practice this is hardly admitted, but depending on each situation it is worth at least to check eligibility.
(Русская версия нажмите здесь)

“EU sanctions” are known in EU law as “restrictive measures”, the purpose of which being “intended to bring a change of policy or activity by the targeted country, a part of that country, its government, entities or individuals. These sanctions can be efficiently challenged before European courts.

Restrictive measures are, according to the European External Action Service “a preventive and non- punitive instrument that should allow the EU to respond quickly to political developments or challenges”. Such definition is not really in accordance with the recent practice, which show a clear intention to punish some personalities for having some links, supposedly close or not, with the Russian president.

EU’s competence to adopt the decision of imposing restrictive measures on third parties is the legacy of the practice of the Member States before the creation of the Union in 1993. Currently restrictive measures cover cases in which it has been decided to interrupt or reduce the Union’s economic relations with a third country (Article 215-1 of Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, hereinafter TFEU), or to impose some constraints on individuals (Article 215-2 TFEU).

Formally, restrictive measures are adopted through a decision taken within the framework of the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). They are then implemented within the framework of the Union according to its competences, which are intergovernmental in this field.

Although unanimity is the rule, sanctions are subject to the discretionary power of the Council of the European Union.

Main measures applied to individuals are the freeze funds and financial assets, or to prohibit admission to the territory.

Speaking less legally, it is in the opinion of many lawyers – and even more, of course, of persons subject to sanctions – that all this legal framework looks like a criminal law without saying so openly, notably in view of circumventing the rules applicable to the latter. EU authorities will not lose their time to prove anything seriously. The burden of the proof is reversed, as the victim of such sanction will have to initiate some proceedings at General Court in Luxemburg. But it is worth the effort.

According to Article 263 of the TFEU, the action for annulment aims to have an act adopted by an institution and producing legal effects regarding third parties annulled. It may be brought within two months from the publication of the decision in the Official Journal of the EU.

This action is submitted thanks to a claim, which will launch proceedings according to the Rules of Procedure applicable in General Court. These rules state in particular very strict deadlines, the calculation of which being sometimes challenging. An appeal can be lodged to the Court of Justice of European Union.

Only certain categories of persons may bring such actions, and only certain actions are available against acts directly implementing restrictive measures within the Union. These are the Member States and the institutions of the Union, as well as the persons directly and individually affected by the contested restrictive measures. Third parties to the restrictive measures who are affected by them can only have access to the European Court indirectly.

The grounds for reviewing the legality of the act vary according to whether the institution that issued the act lacks competence, whether the act violates essential procedural requirements, whether the treaty or the rules governing its application have been violated, or whether the act is contrary to the law.

In any case, in addition to action for annulment, it is highly recommended to request a release separately, by written, to the Council.

Finally, it must be emphasized that in certain situations, an action for damages may be brought before the Court, when it appears that the “measures” were taken wrongfully. It enables individuals who have suffered damage to obtain compensation from of the institution that caused it.
По мнению Европейской службы внешних связей, ограничительные меры являются «превентивным и некарательным инструментом, позволяющим ЕС быстро реагировать на политические события или вызовы».

В действительности такое определение не соответствует практике последнего времени, свидетельствующей о явном намерении наказать некоторых лиц за наличие каких-либо связей, будь то тесных или иных, с Президентом России.

Компетенция ЕС по принятию решения о введении ограничительных мер в отношении третьих сторон является наследием практики государств-членов до создания Европейского союза в 1993 г. В настоящее время ограничительные меры применяются в тех случаях, когда было принято решение прервать или ограничить экономические отношения Европейского союза с третьей страной (статья 215-1 Договора о функционировании Европейского союза) либо ввести некоторые ограничения в отношении отдельных лиц (статья 215-2 Договора о функционировании Европейского союза).

Формально ограничительные меры устанавливаются на основе решения, принятого в рамках Общей внешней политики и политики безопасности Европейского союза. Затем эти ограничительные меры реализуются в рамках деятельности Союза в соответствии с его компетенциями, которые носят в этой области межправительственный характер. Несмотря на установленный принцип единогласия, решение о наложении санкций принимается Советом Европейского союза по собственному усмотрению.

Основными мерами, применяемыми к физическим лицам, являются замораживание средств и финансовых активов или запрет на въезд на территорию.

Проще говоря, по мнению многих юристов — и еще большего числа лиц, подпадающих под санкции, — вся эта правовая база напоминает уголовное право (о чем не говорится открыто), в частности, с целью обхода норм, применимых к последнему. Власти ЕС не станут тратить время на серьезные доказательства. Бремя предоставления доказательств перекладывается на лиц, подпадающих под санкции, так как именно они будут вынуждены инициировать разбирательство в суде общей юрисдикции в Люксембурге. Однако эти усилия того стоят.

В соответствии со статьей 263 Договора о функционировании Европейского союза, иск о признании акта недействительным нацелен на признание недействительным акта, принятого каким-либо органом и имеющего юридические последствия для третьих лиц. Иск может быть подан в течение двух месяцев с момента публикации решения в Официальном журнале ЕС.

Данный иск подается в виде искового заявления, на основании которого инициируется разбирательство в соответствии с Регламентом, установленным в суде общей юрисдикции. Этот регламент устанавливает, в частности, строгие сроки, исчисление которых иногда представляет определенную сложность. Апелляция может быть подана в Суд Европейского союза.

Подавать такие иски могут только определенные категории лиц, и только определенные виды исков могут быть поданы в отношении актов, непосредственно осуществляющих ограничительные меры в рамках Европейского союза. К ним относятся государства-члены и органы Европейского союза, а также лица, непосредственно и индивидуально затронутые оспариваемыми ограничительными мерами. Третьи стороны, на которых распространяются ограничительные меры, могут обращаться в Европейский суд только косвенно.

Основания для пересмотра правомерности акта различаются в зависимости от того, обладает ли орган, издавший акт, достаточной компетенцией, нарушает ли акт основные процессуальные требования, был ли нарушен договор или нормы, регулирующие его применение, или же акт противоречит закону.

В любом случае, помимо иска о признании акта недействительным, настоятельно рекомендуется обратиться к Совету в письменном виде с просьбой о снятии ограничений.

Наконец, следует подчеркнуть, что в определенных ситуациях возможно обращение в суд с иском о возмещении ущерба, если установлено, что «меры» были приняты неправомерно. Это позволяет лицам, понесшим ущерб, получить компенсацию от учреждения, которое его причинило.
You can file a complaint or go directly to the competent court. After investigation, the perpetrator may be prosecuted. In this case, you can ask for compensation.

The complaint allows you to refer the matter to the public prosecutor, who may decide to have the police or gendarmerie conduct an investigation. At the end of the investigation, the perpetrator may be summoned to court to be tried. If the prosecutor does not react or if the complaint is rejected within three months, you can file a civil suit with an investigating judge.

If the perpetrator is known, you can also bring the case directly to court by means of a direct summons. This is a quick procedure that allows the victim to bring the case directly to court without an investigation. Of course, you must know the perpetrator and have sufficient evidence.

The perpetrator can be sentenced to a fine and/or a prison sentence. The perpetrator must also compensate the victim.
You can file a complaint or file a civil suit with an investigating judge. After the investigation, the perpetrator may be prosecuted. In this case, you can ask for compensation.

To file a complaint with the police following a criminal offense, you can go directly to any police station. You will be given a certificate of complaint. This certificate contains information that may be useful for the rest of the procedure (including the reference of your complaint). When you file a complaint, you also have the possibility to declare yourself as an injured party if you wish. This declaration allows you to exercise various rights, in particular: to be informed by mail of the evolution of the procedure, namely to be informed :

– Of a dismissal and its reason
– Of the investigation of the file
– of the setting of the case before the courts of instruction and judgment

It also allows :

– To attach to the criminal file all the documents that you consider useful
– To submit a request to consult the file
* To the public prosecutor if the case is under investigation
* To the examining magistrate if an investigation is opened (from one month after the opening of the investigation)
– To consult the file at the clerk's office and/or to obtain a copy of it at the end of the investigation, when the file is set for a hearing to be examined by an investigating court.

The constitution of a civil party allows certain rights to be exercised throughout the proceedings :

– During the investigation, the status of civil party gives you the same rights as that of the injured party to which are added :
* The right to request additional investigative acts
* The right to attend, at the end of the investigation, the hearing of the investigating court (the "chambre du conseil") during which a decision will be taken concerning the orientation of the file (hearing known as the "settlement of the proceedings")
* The right to attend a possible reconstruction of the facts
* The right to be heard by the investigating judge, upon request, at least once during the proceedings
– During the hearing before the court, the status of civil party allows you to express yourself on the course of the facts. It also gives you the right to ask for compensation for the damage suffered.

Since 2021, some French Prefectures hardly managed their obligation to deal with requests for renewal of residence permits, Talent Passports, VLS TS, etc. The issue came from the fact that the requests had suddenly to be submitted online, which resulted in an clogging. Administrative Supreme Court is prone to decide that an online process should not be mandatory, and progressively the situation is improving.

But if you are facing such an issue, it is needed to take the following precautions in order to preserve your legal rights:

  • Save and print the screenshots of your attempts and online requests;
  • Send one or more registered letters to the prefecture (better with a lawyer);
  • If you do not obtain satisfaction, lodge an urgent claim (“référé”) in administrative court. In Paris, 90% of these claims have been successful in 2021.

Information: lexial@lexial.eu