Mar 29 2019

Immigration Reforms Take Effect


At a Glance

Several immigration system reforms have been implemented. Key changes include:

  • Stricter application requirements for EU Intracompany Transferee (ICT) Permits, including a longer cooling-off period after completing a transfer;
  • Expanded eligibility and simpler travel documents for dependent children;
  • Greater mobility and expanded eligibility for graduates and researchers; and
  • An expansion of the Talent Passport program.

The situation

Most of the French immigration reforms introduced in September 2018 are now in effect and some further changes were made through a number of implementing ministerial decrees.

A closer look

The following immigration reforms are now in effect:

  • Stricter requirements for EU Intracompany Transferees (ICT). The EU ICT Permit is now subject to the following stricter requirements:
    • Longer seniority required. Foreign nationals must have been employed by their home employer or corporate group for at least six months prior to the transfer to France to qualify for an EU ICT Permit, up from three months.
    • Cooling-off period outside the European Union. After completing an intracompany transfer to France, EU ICT Permit holders must remain outside the European Union for at least six months (‘cooling-off’ period) before they can file a new EU ICT Permit application in France. There was no formal cooling-off period requirement prior to this rule change.
    • Applying outside the European Union. Applications must now be filed from outside the European Union. This was already required based on the EU ICT Directive and is now formally included in French law. 
    • Impact. These requirements make the EU ICT Permit application process more administratively burdensome and may make other immigration categories more attractive for highly-skilled foreign workers and their employers.

  • Benefits for travelers with dependents. Foreign nationals travelling to France with children benefit from the following changes:
    • Definition of dependent expanded. Children of spouses are eligible for dependent status under both the EU ICT Permit category and all Talent Passport subtypes, whereas previously only children of the primary applicant were eligible.
    • Harmonized travel permit for children. All children seeking to travel with their parents will now be issued a Circulation Document for Minor Children (DCEM) whereas, previously, children were either issued a Republican Identity Document (TIR) or a Circulation Document for Minor Children (DCEM), depending on their place of birth. Additionally, the DCEM validity is now linked to the parents’ permit validity, whereas this document previously had separate validity rules.
    • Impact. It will be easier for foreign nationals to sponsor and travel with children in France. 

  • Benefits for students and researchers. Students and researchers under the EU Students and Researchers Directive benefit from the following changes:
    • One-year job search permit. Upon completing their research or studies, eligible foreign nationals can now obtain a one-year residence permit for job-search or start-up with full Schengen travel rights, rather than a limited national permit (Autorisation Provisoire de Séjour or APS).
    • Expanded eligibility. Graduates are eligible for the job-search permit for up to four years after graduating, up from one year. Other eligibility criteria, including an exemption from labor market testing, remain unchanged.
    • Impact. Students and researchers should benefit from more mobility in the Schengen area. Additionally, more graduates would be eligible for the job-search permit.

  • Expanded Talent Passport program. The Talent Passport program has been expanded as follows:
    • More companies eligible. Companies may now qualify as sponsors under the Talent Passport program even if they do not have the tax status of ‘young innovative company’.
    • More projects eligible. Projects aimed at economic development of a French company and transfers under the ‘French Tech Visa’ program now qualify under the Talent Passport program.
    • More applicants eligible. Recent graduates from universities outside of France are now eligible for a Talent Passport for Qualified Workers or Innovative Companies (Passeport Talent – Salarié Qualifié / Entreprise Innovante), where previously only graduates from French universities were eligible.
    • Impact. More companies and foreign nationals will benefit from eligibility for the Talent Passport program, where they would typically not be eligible for a French work and residence authorization type. 



France has been conducting broad immigration law reforms since 2016.

Immigration reforms in France are typically known well in advance due to lengthy parliamentary review and the need for implementation through ministerial decrees, which can take many months to develop and publish. Despite the lengthy preparatory process, changes typically take effect abruptly in practice through publication of ministerial decrees which do not include transitional periods.

Looking ahead

A pre-approval process for sponsoring companies included in the September immigration law reform that would streamline the work authorization process has yet to be developed. The French government is expected to continue its efforts to streamline and develop the immigration system, building on the 2016 and 2018 changes. Fragomen will report on relevant developments.

Fragomen in France is Fragomen France AARPI., operating as an immigration consultancy/law firm in France. This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to [email protected].