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Can you work in France to help fund your study abroad?

(Featured photo- an aspect of French work life by expatica.com; detective photos by: arborinvestmentplanner.com)

Can foreign students work in France during their study abroad? I have always been under the impression that students who are not part of the European Union do not have the right to work in France. However, a few weeks ago an interaction with @Ici & LA Provence on Twitter enlightened me that I am mistaken as she worked in France during her study abroad. So I did a little sleuthing to uncover the truth about foreign students having the right to work in France during a study abroad.

Here’s what I discovered:


Clue #1- le ministère de l’intérieur http://www.interieur.gouv.fr

Le ministère de l’intérieur is regarded as one of the most important French cabinets (wikipedia). This cabinet is mainly concerned with the general interior security of France and also handles many immigrant related procedures.

This website advised that students who do not hold a master’s degree must change their status from student to worker at their local police station in Paris unless working part-time and the work contract is less than 1 year. What isn’t too clear to me is this part- Vous devez vous adresser à la préfecture ou à la sous-préfecture de votre domicile et, à Paris, à la préfecture de police. It says that you must go before the prefect of your home and the police station in Paris. If you’re a foreign student, your home is usually your host country and the USA doesn’t have a prefect that does functions like this. So what does this mean exactly?



Clue #2- The French Embassy of Washington D.C. http://ambafrance-us.org/spip.php?article362

Their website states that “International students wishing to work in France must obtain prior authorization from the French Ministry of Labor. Temporary work permits are usually given to students who do not have sufficient private resources to pursue their studies. The permit is valid three months and may be renewed upon presentation of evidence of continuing studies.”

This was clearer to me but had me wondering about the student who has sufficient private funds and wants to work in France- will this foreign student be denied a temporary work visa because they’re better off financially? Or is it that a temporary work visa is not needed for students who have sufficient funds? Is a work visa needed at all for students and if so, do you get that in the USA or in France?



Clue #3- Le ministère du travail, de l’emploi, et du dialogue social  http://travail-emploi.gouv.fr/

I couldn’t locate anything on foreign students working in France but I did find this neat tidbit. Essentially it is a privilege to work in France as a foreigner; not a right, especially if the French unemployment rate is particularly high at the time you are looking for work .


Clue #4- le site official de l’administration française; vosdroits.service-public.fr/particuliers/F2713.xhtml

This was the most helpful site. It clearly states that foreign students can work in France without a work visa as long as it is part-time or 60% (or 964 hours for a year) of full time hours. It also states that your employer must inform the local préfecture of your employment. However, there are 3 situations when you would need to have authorization of your right to work in France:

1) you are going to be working longer than the allowed time of your academic program;

2) if you hold a long stay student visa;

3) If you are Algerian.


Case solved!

It appears as a foreign student you are allowed to legally work in France! Here’s what you need to do if you want to work abroad:


This request for your employment as a foreigner with the local préfecture de police from your employer will require the following information:

  • The nature of the job (job position and duty)
  • The length of your work contract
  • The number of hours you’ll work per year
  • Your expected start date
  • A copy of your visa de long séjour


We might have solved the mystery of foreign students being able to work abroad but stay tuned for the next part of the case- do all French labor laws apply to foreign students and what is it like to work for a French company?


Additional links for this article

Are you interested in teaching? Check out this opportunity to teach French abroad http://highereducation.frenchculture.org/teach-in-france

http://www.smeno.com/etudiants/1434_travailler-en-france.html another great link to check out


Finishing your study abroad preparations this summer to go to Paris this fall? Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Twenty in Paris: A Young American Perspective of Studying Abroad in Paris as your ultimate guide to answer your questions on getting a French visa, what to expect of taking classes at a French university and how to immerse into French culture and language- on sale now. Hurry! These prices won’t last long (sale ends this Saturday 7/5/14)