So You Want to Work in France?
If you want to work in France and you’re between the ages of 18 and 35, you’re in luck! The France working holiday visa is easy as pie to get. Why should you listen to me? Well, it appears that I have come to be known as the ‘youth mobility visa girl’.
This year (last year?) I was at a New Year’s Eve party and my friend introduced me to a friend of hers as a blogger. He asked what my blog was about and I said, “Well, it’s about travel but the UK Youth Mobility Visa stuff is probably my most popular…” He was like, “Wait, Alyssa? Like Alyssa Writes?!” and he totally fangirled (his words) — selfies included. Turns out he had been reading for a couple months. It was nice but also a little embarrassing for me!
True to form, I’ve gone and done it again. This time, I’ve applied for a French 3D Youth Mobility Agreement (Working Holiday) Visa and I’ll be spending four months in
humid sunny Martinique while conducting field research for my MA.
Advantages of a France Working Holiday Visa
You can get around that pesky 90-day Schengen Zone rule. Let’s say you’re planning a Euro trip and you want to legally stay longer in Europe than 90 days, this visa will help you do that. That’s why I got this visa!
No application fee. Let me say that again: There is no application fee! Considering the UK visa costs approximately $1500 to get at the moment, this is a pretty great deal.
You’re not limited to Mainland France. The visa allows you work in France and its overseas departments and collectivities (Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Reunion Island, and Mayotte) for 4 to 12 months.
It’s really easy to get. I think that not many people know about this visa, even the agent at the consulate asked me how I heard about it. So I hope this helps get the word out there and provides a personal experience with the application (I found Dan Vineberg‘s blog post very helpful before I applied as well) to encourage people to apply!
About This Guide
First, I’m going to spare you the lengthy disclaimer I published on my UK Youth Mobility Visa article and just say that I am relating my personal experience and any reliance you place on this to get your own visa is at your own risk. For an extended version, please read my “Disclaimer” page.
Second, I have this terrible habit of writing everything I know in the visa blog posts I publish. Therefore, if after reading this whole post and any documents I link to you still have a question, you can safely assume that I don’t know the answer.
Third, welcome and enjoy the journey to a pleasant working holiday in France!
- Be between the ages 18 to 35 on the date of application
- Hold a Canadian passport valid for six months past the end date of the stay
- Provide proof of sufficient financial resources to cover initial expenses: €2100 or $3000 CAD
- Submit all documents necessary
Applying for the Visa
Download this 3D Visa Application Kit (updated January 31, 2018).
Save for a few things, this application is very straightforward. There’s nothing tricky about it except one thing: You cannot apply more than three months before your departure date.
It is now possible to apply from abroad. You must be a resident of the country and you will have to apply via the French diplomatic or consular post of your place of residence.
In any case, I’m one of those cautious types of people so here are some details about the things I overthought:
French people love a good cover letter. Luckily you can write it in English (or French, if you so desire). My cover letter said something along these lines:
Dear Sir/Madam: I am applying for the 3D Visa. I will be conducting research in Martinique as part of my studies. I may work at the university. Even though I lived in Martinique before, I would like to spend some time travelling around other islands in the Caribbean.
The whole letter was a few paragraphs long. When I went to my appointment (more on that later), the visa officer skimmed the letter and said “Martinique! Very good then.”
The updated application (as of March 2017) asks for a “Working Holiday Program application form”. It is the same as the Long Stay Visa form:
You are required to have travel insurance for the length of your stay. I wanted to overestimate the visa length rather than underestimate. I am not a woman of means by any stretch of the imagination. I couldn’t afford to pay all the travel insurance upfront like that! So I’m going to tell you a secret: I bought my travel insurance with World Nomads just before my appointment. I printed the policy and brought it to my appointment. Then, I cancelled it after I got my passport back using the 14-day cooling off period for a full refund.
When I arrived in Martinique, no one checked to see if I had it or not. Please be aware that this is not an endorsement for undermining the requirements of the visa or travelling without insurance. Once I was sure of my actual travel dates, I purchased travel insurance that covered me for the duration of my stay in Martinique.
Proof of Financial Resources
There are no strict requirements like the UK Youth Mobility Visa. I simply printed my bank statement from the UK Barclays website and got a print out of my Canadian account from the bank.
Credit cards and lines of credit do not count as financial resources but the TFSA (Tax-Free Savings Account) does.
Proof of Provincial Medical Coverage
*This is no longer required*
This one delayed my application. Do not go to Service Ontario. Call the INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 (in Toronto, 416-314-5518). Tell them that you need proof of provincial health care coverage for a French visa. They will know what you’re talking about.
If you want to spend more than five-ish months (153 days) out of the country, you will not be covered unless you have a work contract. That means that when they ask you for your dates of departure and return, they should not exceed 153 days. With that said, the letter they provide doesn’t actually state the amount of time you’re covered for, just that you are or you aren’t. Do what you will with that information.
The letter will be mailed out within two business days. I received mine about a week after calling in.
Submitting the Application
I’m an anxious kind of person so the idea of mailing my passport to the Consulate did not appeal to me. Instead I booked a visa appointment at the Consulate in Toronto. It’s now required to book an appointment at your nearest Consulate. I applied a couple months in advance so I really didn’t have to do this but it’s perfect if you’re in a pinch.
There are no biometrics to be done so the appointment is quick and painless (though the waiting in line may not be). When I was there, the official who processed visas repeatedly stressed to me “This is the easiest visa, it’s very easy!” She looked at my documents, gave me back the originals (except the passport), gave me a receipt, and told me when to come back.
It takes 48 hours to process. I had my appointment on a Thursday and picked it up the following Tuesday. The same woman was all, “Enjoy Guadeloupe!” and I just said thanks and went on my merry way.
Arriving in France
Or in my case, “France”. The last two times I had a visa to work in France, I was subject to medical tests and extra stickers and so on and so forth. The temporary nature of this visa means you are exempt from all of that. Lucky!
If you wish to extend your stay (which you can, up to 12 months) then you have to visit the Préfecture where you’re residing. That’s whole different story!