Working Holiday Visa: France
France is home to a large number of expats, most notably in the French capital of Paris. Paris has long been regarded as the worlds center of culture, and as you stroll down the cobbled Parisian streets of Paris you may start to wonder why it took you so long to make the move. If you are in search for a different French experience, the surrounding cities of Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse or the beautiful southern city of Nice may be better suited for you. If you are searching for a more peaceful and idyllic experience, France has no shortage of picturesque small towns as soon as you leave the hustle and bustle of the city.
Whatever your choice may be; If you want to immerse yourself in the French way of life and start working and living in France, you’ll need a visa. There are various types of visas one can acquire depending on your situation but the most popular, and easiest one to acquire is that of the Working Holiday Visa. It’s easy, relatively painless and I’ll walk you through the steps you need to take so you can finally get one step closer to your move to France. This post is directed more towards Canadians, but most of this will apply to any country that France offers a Working Holiday Visa to. (This is also a great visa to have if you want to stay in Europe traveling for longer than the 90 day Schengan zone restriction, so get this visa even if you don’t plan on working in France if you just want to travel Europe for a time period exceeding 90 days.)
Who can benefit from this visa?
Currently, citizens from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia, Taiwan, Mexico and Uruguay can apply for a working holiday visa in France.
What is a Working Holiday Visa?
A working holiday visa is a bilateral working holiday agreement between two countries that allow citizens of either country to move to the other for a time period of typically one year, with extension requirements if you wish to stay longer in some cases.
Working Holiday Visa Requirements
– Be a Canadian Citizen
– Be between the ages of 18-35 (30 if you are outside of Canada)
– Have a Canadian Passport that’s valid for at least 6 months after arriving in France
– Have not yet benefited from any of the visas under the France-Canada Youth Mobility Agreement
– Provide proof of financial stability to the sum of a minimum of 3625 CAD to cover the costs of your stay
– Provide proof of travel insurance in the case of health care or repatriation for the duration of your stay in France
– Include and submit all required documents with your application and pay all fees required with the application
– Cover letter (in French or English) on the purposes of your trip. (A few paragraphs should be fine)
Application Processing Time
At the time of my application which was in late 2017, the process was incredibly fast and very easy. I booked an appointment a couple months in advance, showed up to the Consulate of France in downtown Vancouver, submitted all required documents which was free of charge at the time, had a 5 minute short interview standing up and was given my year long visa in 5 days. I’ve been made aware the process is a bit different now, but it’s still a relatively easy visa to acquire if you meet the requirements as I’ll outline below.
You cannot book your appointment earlier than 3 months in advance of your departure date, so keep that in mind. There is also a 99 euro application fee (around 150 CAD) in effect now was well. Still much cheaper than many others working holiday visas available for Canadians. Processing times may vary. It can take up to a month, but it will likely be processed much earlier barring any mishaps on the submission of documents.
Here is where some changes have been made in regards to the process of obtaining your Working Holiday Visa. The visa applications now go through a company called VFS Global, a partnered company with the consulate of France to Canada. The list includes:
- Application Form
Filled out completely with your signature and current date.
- Appointment Letter Confirmation
Once the online booking is completed you’ll be given the confirmation through VFS, so include this.
Ensure it is filled out as provided in the 3D Visa Application Kit.
- Cover Letter
A letter that states which visa you’re applying for. In this case it would be the working holiday visa through the France-Canada youth mobility agreement. Detail your plans for your stay, where you will stay and your motives for moving temporarily to France. Several paragraphs should be enough.
- Financial Resources
Attach an official copy of your most recent bank statement as well as a letter from your bank that states how much money you have in your account etc. Make sure the Representative from your bank stamps the letter as well. A copy of your most recent bank statement should suffice, but this extra step just shows an extra burden of proof. Don’t print out the statement yourself at home, make sure its an official statement given to you from your bank.
- Prepaid Canada Post XPRESSPOST Envelope
I bought this envelope and the guy laughed at me telling me I could just pick up my passport in 5 days. There’s an option to pay a fee for them to mail you the passport or you can just pick up the passport at the consulate. Your call.
- Receipt of Visa Application
Like the appointment letter confirmation, this will be provided to you once you are finished with the online booking process.
- Travel Insurance
Your travel insurance must valid for the duration of your stay in France and must include the following: $0 deductible, $50,000 USD coverage of emergency health care and hospitalization and repatriation in the event of a serious emrgency evacuation. There are many different options out there for you, so shop around for the best deals. I personally went with BCAA. Not the cheapest option, but the most well-known and reliable for Canadians in my opinion. Make sure they provide you with a Confirmation of Coverage and you should be good to go! Side note you will be recommended to purchase civil liability insurance. Not a requirement but it may be included in your insurance policy. Check with your insurance provider first to make sure you qualify but again, not a requirement.
- Valid Canadian Passport
Must be valid for at least 6 months after your last supposed day in France. Provide a photocopy of the first 6 pages of your passport as well. (Also make photocopies of your passport, and your working holiday visa page for yourself after you get it in case of any emergencies as they will be good to have.)
- 2x recent ID pictures
35mm x 45mm format ID picture on a plain white background. Original copies only.
Submitting the Application
Double check, Triple check, Quadruple check you have all the necessary documents before you submit. Once your appointment at your nearest french consulate is made, all you have to do is show up on time to your appointment and after a short interview, you will be given back your documents (passport excluded) and given a date to come back. This process was one of the easiest things I’ve ever done, so no need to be nervous. The representative will likely just ask why you want to move to France for a year, what you want to get out of the trip and how long you plan to reside in France. Personally, it took me 5 days and I got my passport back with my Working Holiday Visa printed on. It was one of the best feelings of my life and made my trip feel that much more real with 2 months left to go.
Arriving in France
Bienvenue en France! When I arrived, I stayed in a Korean hostel in Aubervilliers for two weeks, a suburb north of the city center of Paris. It was an incredibly sketchy area and I do not recommend staying there. I’d recommend going on hostelworld or booking.com and finding a hostel or hotel for a week couple weeks while you find a job and a flat. I was lucky enough to find a bartending job and a flat 5 minutes walk away just outside of the Notre Dame in the 5th arrondissement all on Craigslist. Within two weeks I was lucky enough to be living my life as a Parisian, walking to work with the Notre Dame right along the path to work every single day. It was surreal and an experience I’ll cherish forever.
I’d recommend using centralparisrentals.com and check out any flats they have available. It’s mostly rented out by students or young English expats but they accept people on working holiday visas as well. There are a variety of flats that will suit any budget, depending on location/quality. I personally picked their cheapest option which had me living in a basement room with no windows and could really only fit a single sized bed and a drawer. You don’t have to go as extreme as I did, but the location for me trumped anything on that list. All of these rooms include internet, cable, electricity and utilities. There is also a washer/dryer in every unit as well as a dishwasher so you don’t have to worry about anything except paying rent/deposit. If I ever go back, I’ll likely rent with them again.
…And there you have it. Everything you’ll need to complete your move to France. Once you’re here, its up to you on how you make your experience, and that’s the beauty of the journey. If you have any questions regarding anything about the process comment below and I’ll get back to you and who knows, maybe I’ll bump into you when I make it back there!