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! There is now a fee associated: €99 or ~ $145 CAD. Considering the UK visa costs approximately $1500 to get at the moment, this is still 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, Mayotte, and St. Pierre & Miquelon) 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!
A new note: A friend of mine recently used this visa to move to Paris (September 2018). She was informed by the company that hired her that she could only work a maximum of 964 hours per year (6 months full-time) on this visa. Keep this in mind if you’re planning to apply for full-time jobs.
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!
Last Updated: January 6, 2020
- 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: €2500 or $3625 CAD
- Submit all documents necessary
Applying for the Visa
Start your application online here. Under ‘Your plans’ select ‘Other’ and then Working holiday for ‘Main purpose of stay’.
Pay your €99 fee.
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.
You will need your passport and details of any previous French visas.
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.
Read their Frequently Asked Questions page!
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.”
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.
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 a total 36 months) then you have to visit the Préfecture where you’re residing. That’s whole different story!
137 thoughts on “How to Work in France: Get a Working Holiday Visa”
Hey Alyssa, do you need to have a job arranged to apply for this visa? Thank you
No, you do not.
Hey Alyssa! Just came across your blog, very interesting and thorough, thank you!!! Quick question, I understand that if you apply for a 3A visa instead (meaning you have a job offer rather than just a working holiday visa), you don’t need a Cover letter, am I right?
Also, given your experience already in France, how bureaucratic and complicated is to process any types of paperwork you have to do once you arrive there? (residency, health insurance, rental agreement, etc…). I’m thinking of applying for a visa next year (when I find a job first of course), but I heard many stories of people moving to France and having to deal with so much paper confusion… losing time, money and opportunities along the way.
Last question, how high are the income taxes in France?
Thank you for your input!!
P.S.: For those asking about an extension, according to the website, you can ask for another 12-month extension even if you turned 36 already! You just have to had your original visa issued at 35 and already be on French territory. https://montreal.consulfrance.org/Frequently-asked-questions-regarding-the-implementation-of-the-France-Canada
Hey! Have you written about the extension process?
I haven’t, unfortunately, as I didn’t go through it.
As long as we are under 35, are we able to apply for the working holiday program more than once? For example, if I apply to go to France next year, when I come back, am I eligible to apply to Italy under the same visa scheme, and then another country after that?
I am a big fan of your blog, and currently living in France with a Schengen visa. Do you have any recommendations for getting a residence permit for the Youth Mobility Visa? I am working with workaway, and often changing where I live… I’m really worried about asking someone if I can use their address for a residence permit when I only stay a couple of weeks. Is there anyway to work around/with getting a residence permit….
Thanks for you post! I am already in france with a Working Holiday Visa but I don’t know anything about the next steps… I’ve actually been here too long without knowing (since March 2020).
Do you know about getting a social security number and if I should be trying to get a “carte vitale” (although I’m not sure what that is.. ) Anyway, any ideas?
I forgot to ask you something Alyssa. You mentioned that this visa now can be applied from outside Canada. Where would I need to go for that?
I am also wondering how we can apply for the Working Holiday Visa from outside of Canada. I am currently in France on the Schengen 90 day short term visa but need to be able to stay here for another 6 months. Do you have a link to the resource you got the information from so I can contact them?
Thanks so much for your help!
We’re you required to provide a medical certificate or Criminal Record check when applying for the visa?
Hi Alyssa Thank you for your post. I have a quick question about the application process. I know you cannot apply no more than 90 days before your arrival date in France. Does that mean no more than 90 days before you complete the online application, or no more than 90 days before your in person appointment at the consulate? I am in Saskatchewan so need to plan a trip to Vancouver for my appointment. Thanks!
Hi Alyssa, I am wondering, do I need to have a previous job offer before applying or with this visa I can just find a job there? Did you speak any French before going there and being that I don’t speak any would that be a problem for finding a job or what do you recommend? Thank you.
Hi Alyssa! Great guide with lots of helpful information… feel like it covers the process quite well! A quick question, when you visited the consulate did you have to provide a medical examination illustrating that you were fit to work, as well as a criminal background check? This seems to be a grey area and want to make sure I provide these documents if required before my appointment… thanks :)!
Would love to know the answer to this!
That’s odd you paid for your application. I paid $35 for the appointment with VFS Global to send out my app (via the Toronto Office) and $35 to get my passport shipped to my home. This was done 08/01/20.
I would recommend talking about the new change to VFS as that was confusing to figure out until I saw some reddit posts. I had a bunch of unncessary documentation, but they sent it out anyways (CRC check, affidavit, medical certificate of fitness,). I brought two copies of everything, but only a copy of the appointment was needed in the end. Passport photocopy was needed for the page with your picture, but not mentioned in the new VFS documentation, but I found that on the old style application.
Got my visa in the end.
wondering if you could regarding the renwal process for the whv in france.
mine will expire in jan, and as i know must go to prefacture in my area 2 months prior.
now what are the terms to be accepted? must have cdi contract or not? thats my main concern.
and wondering if you know the docs to provide? thanks for your help!
Go to the office and they will give you the details.
Thanks so much for your post! It has been super helpful. Sorry if you were asked this before but
I’m filling out the long-stay visa application form and I got stuck on this one section:
24. “Name, address, email address, and telephone number in France of inviting employer / host institution / family member etc.”
My wife and I plan on staying at an AirBnB for a month while we get settled and look for apartments/work. Any ideas on what to put here if this is the case?
Any address is fine.