Immigration to France

Introducing France which can be described as one of the biggest European countries with rich cultural heritage and respect for human rights. Statistics show us that the population of France is currently estimated at around 67.3 million. The biggest ethnic group is French. France also hosts many foreigners from Spain and Italy. There are also many immigrants from Algeria and Morocco, in addition to the other former French colonies in North Africa. The official language is French.

The Official currency is the Euro (EUR). France is a core member state of the European Union and the Schengen area, which provides many benefits for its residents. Currently France has no running business immigration programs, however, it is still possible to acquire a residence permit in France. For short stays up to 90 days, a visa will be required.

Immigration services

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs ( is responsible for immigration services in France.

It may be quite difficult to obtain a residence permit in France, due to the strict immigration policies, in contrast with other European countries, such as Latvia. There is a significant difference in French law between a simple "visa" and a long stay or a residence permit, officially called "stay document" (carte de séjour in French). A long stay visa or entry permit is necessarily required for any person applying for a stay document. Applicant has to proceed by submitting an application with all supporting documents to a French Consular authority and receive an approval to travel to France. For the nationals of the OECD member states and the citizens of the U.S.A., however, no long stay visa is required to stay in France for a time period up to 90 days.

If you are a non-EU citizen, in order to stay in France for more than 3 months, you need a temporary residence permit, skills and talents residence card, resident card or retired residence permit. Thus, anyone entering France with the intention to stay in excess of 90 days and intends to work or study in France must have a long term visa or entry permit issued by the French authorities.

Immigration service providers

Despite the fact that the French law sets certain exceptions for visa and entry permit requirements, the generally applied rule is that an applicant shall not be granted a stay document, as long as he hasn’t been previously evaluated and approved by a French Consulate. Thus, any person seeking entry to France must start out by drafting and submitting an application to the French Consulate, which is specifically responsible for his country of residence. Submitting application to a wrong Consulate authority most likely will result in refusal to issue an approval. Such services are usually best provided by law offices and immigration agencies.

Here are three email address of companies which offer immigration services in France:

  • E-mail:
  • E-mail:
  • E-mail:

Lawful immigration

In order to visit France legally, immigrants need to follow all the requirements provided within French law. The main law, which regulates the immigration of non-EU citizens in France, is the Code of Entry and Stay of Foreigners and Asylum in France. There are several options, depending on the purpose of your visit.

Foreign French Consulate is responsible for receiving, hearing visa applications and issuing approvals, however, in order to successfully apply for a visa you need to submit to the very specific Consulate, responsible for your country of residence.

Immigration law

The Code of Entry and Stay of Foreigners and Asylum in France is the main legal regulation for immigrants from non-EU states in France.

Immigration statistics

According to immigration statistics, the majority of immigrants that move to France come from other European Union countries (45%) or from north-western African (Maghreb) countries (30%). For the last few decades, the flow of immigrants has increased, causing serious discussions in government. As a result, immigration policy was made stricter.

According to immigration statistics provided by the Institut national d'études démographiques, in the year 1999, almost a quarter (25%) of the population of France was defined as either being immigrants or having immigrant ancestors. For the last decade, this number grew dramatically. As of January 2016, according to census polls, 11.8% of the population of France are immigrants.

Below you can find information regarding the biggest ethnic groups of immigrants in France as per the year 2014:

# Group % of the total number of immigrants
1 Portugal 8%
2 Algeria 7%
3 Morocco 7%
4 United Kingdom 5%
5 Spain 5%
6 Italy 4%
7 Germany 4%

Services for Immigrants - Embassies in France

Below is a list of foreign embassies in France:

Most popular cities by population

Paris is the most popular city for immigrants. It is also the biggest city in France. Its cultural heritage, museums, art galleries and other landmarks are just astonishing! The other two big cities by population are Lyon and Marseille.

Tourists mostly visit Paris. If you will ever be in Paris, be sure to check out the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.

Migration in and out of Schengen area

The French Republic is a member state of the Schengen area. Countries of the Schengen Agreement have abolished passport and immigration control at their common borders and for travel between their member states. Member countries also recognize Schengen visas issued by other Schengen states. On the outer border, or upon first entry to the Schengen area, normal immigration control procedures apply, however admission to any Schengen country is considered admission to the whole Schengen area (all member countries), with no further immigration checks needed.

Third-country nationals holding a residence permit or residence card may stay in France in excess of 90 days. Due to the strict immigration policies, it may sometimes be quite hard to obtain a residence document. A list of documents and grounds for requesting a residence permit or card can be found on the web site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Types of visas in France

If staying in France for a short time period under 90 days, a third-country national must apply for one of several types of visas in order to make his/her visit legal. According to the Immigration policy legislation of France, there are several different types of visas, which must be acquired depending on case and circumstances:

Short-stay Uniform Schengen visa Stay up to 90 days in mainland France Travel health insurance, documents on sufficient funds and proof of accommodation required.
Short-stay national Type C visa Stay up to 90 days in French overseas territories Travel health insurance, documents on sufficient funds and proof of accommodation required.
Type A airport transit visa Airport transit visa Airplane ticket required

Residence permit

Residence permit in France may be quite challenging to acquire, however, with the correct framework and carefully drafted documents it is possible. We kindly recommend applying for preliminary evaluation procedure at the law office or immigration center. Depending on circumstances and your case details, you can apply and acquire one of the following residence permit types:

Stay Document (Carte de Séjour) – the following document in its essence is a residence permit for immigrants who are visiting the Republic of France using long stay visa and plan on staying in France for a longer period of time. In order to achieve and acquire such a document, an applicant has to comply with the following criteria:

  • validate their visa which shall serve as a residence permit, or
  • apply for a residence permit during their initial three months of stay in France

French immigration system offers two types of Stay Document to the applicants:

  • Carte de séjour temporaire – a temporary residence permit, which remains valid for up to a year. Such stay socument requires annual extension procedure in order for the applicant to stay in France for longer periods of time.
  • Carte de séjour compétences et talents – a residence permit document, which is issued exclusively to highly qualified employees. Such Stay Document is usually issued for a time period of up to three years and is renewable upon expiration.

Carte de résident – residence permit meant for family members of French citizens: legal spouses, parents of a French-born child, expats retiring in France or those who have renewed their carte de séjour for more than three years consecutively. Currently, the French government offers two different types of such document:

  • Carte de resident rétraité – for expats retiring in France
  • Carte de resident – for all other categories of applicants mentioned above

Depending on circumstances and your case details, you might be able to apply for one of the following categories of immigration documents:

Authorization of stay A document that may have 1, 3 or 6 months of validity term. It is usually issued in exceptional situations, when the local presence of the applicant is required, for example, to the parent of a sick child in France, or a volunteer on a mission.
Certificate of Residence for Algerians A document, which can be acquired exclusively by the nationals of Algeria.

It is worth noting that, under the new immigration law intended to attract immigrants with special skills or education, the procedure has recently been simplified for certain categories including:

  • Executives working for multinationals with gross monthly earnings of at least EUR 5,000
  • Scientists
  • Those working in the entertainment industry
  • Seasonal workers
  • Regulated professions (healthcare professionals, architects, lawyers, teachers, etc)

Immigration documents

To read more about the various immigration, residency and citizenship documents in France, please refer to the immigration documents section.


History demonstrates, that ever since the 19th century France has been a country of immigration. After the decline of colonialism at the beginning of the 20th century, France was one of the most popular countries amongst immigrants from African countries.

France experienced high rates of immigration before World War II. Many people were running from persecution in Nazi Germany or Soviet Countries. At this time, France was the only country, which allowed legal mass immigration.

After World War II, France experienced dramatic growth of its economy and industry, which was a pull factor which attracted many new immigrants to join its labor force.

Today, the proportion of immigrants in France is not that large. However, some areas have a higher immigrant population than others. For example, in the region known as the Greater Paris, almost 45% of the population – are immigrants.

In case you have questions or you need a free consultation regarding immigration opportunities to France, feel free to contact us: