You live in the US, Canada, South Africa, Australia or India and you have decided to move to France. You also have a business idea that you want to launch and are wondering what is required to get a business visa. Here are my 5 tips for any non-European citizen who wants to apply for a business visa in order to move to France.
1 - Prepare a strong business plan
Work on your business plan and prepare a financial plan. Get help from an accountant if needed for the financial part. You will need these documents for your visa request, but it will also help you to be focused and better prepared.
Nobody requires a 30-pages business plan. A simple 5 to 10 pages business plan with your project overview, market, product or services, competition and strategy will do. Always add a CV, pictures of what you sell or example of projects, as well as mentions of previous experience as self-employed or freelancing.
I’m launching an online course on “How to create your First French Business” at the end of May. It will take you through the process of writing a business plan, financial plan, as well as go through the French rules, legal structures and taxes. Email me to be added to the waiting list.
2 - Choose the best or easiest visa
A tourist visa will not enable you to register a business. If your short-term plan is to start your own business, why not start with a business visa straight away, knowing that a business visa is issued for a year. From my experience, profession libérale visa and commerçant visa are the easiest visas to get. A visa talents sounds great as it lasts 4 years, but you will have to invest €30,000 in your business.
3 - Aim for an income of at least €1,550 per month
When going through your visa request, the French Embassy (or prefecture for a renewal), are looking both at the viability of your business project and your income. They want to ensure that your business will enable you to live in France and to cover for your personal expenses. From a financial point of view, they will consider that you will need €18,500 to live per year - this could be business income, pension, rental income or savings. Please note that income called “le revenu” refers to the money that you take out of your business and not your sales. If you own a property in France, this is something to mention as you will not have to pay a rent. If you are moving as a couple and your spouse/partner does not work, I would recommend adding an extra €500 per month.
4 - Go for a simple business idea
Choose a business idea that is simple and easy to implement based on your experience. Your dream might be to open a restaurant or cafe, but starting this type of project when you have never lived in France is tough. It also means that you would have to base your business plan on assumptions - rent or property value, equipment to buy, health and safety rules, kitchen standards to be validated. The seller is unlikely to wait until you get your visa in 6-months time to sell the business/property to you. It makes it harder for the Embassy to issue your visa, as there would be too many uncertainties.
Could you start with another simple business or work as a freelancer for former employers or members of your network, before working on this longer-term project which requires more research and investment? Once in France, you will be able to visit premises in different towns, check the kitchen, look for equipment, meet up with banks to finance the project, etc.
Doing this type of project on a tourist visa is also limited, as you would have to go back to your country to apply for a business visa. A bank would also not finance you unless the business visa was issued too.
5 - Set yourself a long-term goal
If your dream is to stay and live in France, build up your visa strategy plan. For instance:
Step 1 - Visit France and search for an area that you like.
Step 2 - Apply for a business visa before you move to France. Launch your first business and renew your visa up to 3 times.
Step 3 - Apply for a residency card. The business will provide the documents which will help you apply for the residency card by proving a regular income, officially paying taxes in France (social charges and income tax), as well as having a health cover.
Getting ready for your business visa application
I’m launching a new course in May on “How to create your French business”, where you will learn how to create a simple business plan, financial plan, while taking into account the French rules. This course will also walk you through the process of choosing your legal structure, understanding French taxes and identifying the roadmap up to your business creation.
Email me to be added to the waiting list.