La French Tech is an initiative launched in 2003 by the French government in an effort to transform the digital start-up scene in France into a Digital Republic. By capitalising on new ideas and supporting existing initiatives already led by start-ups, the French government’s ultimate goal is to bolster and expand the start-up scene in France.

La French Tech involves start-ups from every level in their progress; from those which are right at the beginning of development to those which are looking to expand to the international market. The aim is to expand not only the network of entrepreneurs in France, but also the individuals who facilitate the expansion of growth of start-ups, including investors, developers and the media.

The initiative encompasses several programmes which support start-ups in different ways, including French Tech for the Planet and the French Tech Seed Fund, which enables France to co-invest and encourage further investment in young start-ups. Also born out of La French Tech initiative is the French Tech Visa.

French Tech Visa

The French Tech visa is key to encouraging start-ups to come to France, enabling the further expansion of the start-up network into a true Digital Republic. The French Tech Visa sets out a simplified procedure which was established to be specifically target tech talent. It is an avenue which allows tech talent to obtain a multi-year Talent Passport which comprises three categories :

1) French Tech Founders – for international start-up founders selected by partner incubators and accelerators

Startup founders may be granted a multiyear residence permit marked «Talent Passport innovative project » if they provide evidence of:

  • An innovative business project they want to develop in France.
  • Recognition of the project by a public-sector body ;
  • Sufficient annual financial means corresponding to the statutory national minimum wage (SMIC)

2) French Tech Visa for Employees : for international talents recruited by French companies based in France recognised as innovative by the French Ministry of Economy

To be eligible for the ‘Talent Passport Employee of an innovative company’ employees of a company recognised as innovative by the Ministry of Economy must show evidence of:

  • Gross annual pay of at least twice the statutory national minimum wage (SMIC), i.e. €37,309.92 as of January 1, 2021.
  • A permanent employment contract or a fixed-term employment contract for at least three months with an employer established in France.
  • An an active participation in the R&D project and development of the company or any active link with the economic, social, international and environmental development of the project.

3) French Tech Visa for Investors :  for international investors wanting to settle in France

Foreign investors wishing to settle in France to undertake a planned investment can apply for a Talent Passport marked ‘Business investor’ if they proceed to a direct investment either:

  • Personally; or
  • Via a company they control; or
  • Via a company in which they have at least a 30% shareholding.

They also need to meet the following cumulative criteria:

  • They are creating or protecting, or committing to create or protect, jobs within the four years following the investment;
  • They are investing, or committing to invest, at least €300,000 in fixed tangible or intangible assets.

Direct investments include share capital investments, reinvested earnings or ‘loans between affiliated companies’. Exclusively financial investments are therefore outside the scope of the scheme.

The maximum duration of each of the above visas is four years on a renewable basis. An individual can apply at the French consulate in their home country, or if already living in France, can apply at their local Préfecture for a change of status. More information pertaining to each category is available on the Welcome to France website here. https://www.welcometofrance.com/welcome-to-la-french-tech

The French Tech visa has already provided the opportunity for start-uppers in foreign countries to come to France. Foreign tech talent and the ideas they bring are well under way to becoming embedded into the French Digital Republic.

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By Expat Partners – Katherine Byrne