Visas for France 2024: is there an option for young workers?

Some younger people do not want to move to study, but rather travel inside the country or work

Visa types offered can depend on the age of the person
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Reader Question: My daughter is Australian and wants to spend some time in France, but not to study at university. We have heard there is a type of visa that would allow her to have a long stay in France and also do some work there to fund her trip. Is this correct?

The visa you are referring to is called a Vacances Travail (working holiday) visa, and it is available to young people from 16 countries with which France has reciprocal programmes. 

It allows those under the age of 30 (35 for Australians, Argentinans, and Canadians) to live in France for up to one year. 

Note this age limit applies on the application date for the visa – an Australian who is almost 36 could apply for the visa just before their birthday and be granted a year-long visa.

The visa is primarily aimed at allowing younger people to spend time travelling around the country. 

However, they can also freely take up jobs during their stay without needing a work permit (autorisation de travail), which is not the case for most other kinds of visa or for short visa-free stays.

It also lets holders undertake certain forms of study, such as French language classes.

The 16 countries that have working holiday visa programmes with France are: 

  • Australia

  • Argentina

  • Brazil

  • Canada

  • Chile

  • Colombia

  • Ecuador

  • South Korea

  • Japan

  • New Zealand

  • Hong Kong

  • Mexico

  • Peru

  • Russia (Russian citizens also need a visa to undertake any form of work) 

  • Taiwan

  • Uruguay

The visa can only be obtained once – if you have already received a French working holiday visa you cannot apply for it again at a later date. 

Most countries also have a limit on the number of people who can be offered this visa each year although there are no such restrictions for Australia or New Zealand. There is, for example, a 7,000 visa-per-year limit for Canadians.

Read more: 7 reader questions on new France/UK border checks answered

How can I get the visa? 

Requirements will differ depending on the applicant’s nationality but generally you will need: 

  • A passport valid for at least three months after the end of the visa application, with at least two blank pages

  • Two passport-sized photos

  • Proof of return ticket, or a sworn affidavit that you will return to your country of origin before the visa expires 

  • Proof of year-long insurance covering at least medical, hospital, and repatriation costs 

  • Proof you have money in your savings to cover your initial time period in the country. For Australia this is roughly $5,000 AUD or €3,000 and needs to have been in your account for three months prior to your application

  • Proof of accommodation when you arrive (such as an AirBnb or a hostel) or via an attestation d’hébergement from somebody in France

  • To pay a fee for the application (this is $99 AUD for Australia) 

Applications are made through the visa provider working with the French government in your country of origin. For Australia, this is VFS Global.

Unlike most other visas it does not need to be validated at a local prefecture after you arrive in France.

Read also: Australia offers citizenship to Frenchman who blocked knifeman

Once the visa has expired, you are required to leave France and return to your home country as the visa is not extendable and cannot be ‘transferred’ to another visa type.

It is possible to leave France and re-enter to then begin using the 90 day visa-free allocation as a tourist from which many non-EU nationalities, including Australians, benefit.

Specific information for each country is available on the France Visas website.

Recently, EU proposals for talks on a scheme that could have seen young people spend several years living and working in the UK or EU was rejected by British politicians who said it too closely resembled a return to EU free movement, which they did not want. 

Read more: UK rejects EU’s youth mobility offer citing ‘free movement’ concerns