Whether you plan to take your domestic helper on holiday to France or to relocate permanently, securing the correct visa for her is of the essence. Indeed, unlike a few Southeast Asian countries where your domestic helper is allowed to join you for a short tourist stay, to be authorized to work in France, your domestic helper will need to apply for one of the following specific visas:
- The short-stay visa has a maximum validity period of 180 days with a consecutive presence (or not) equal to at least 90 days; or
- The long-stay visa is equivalent to a 12-month residence permit.
1. The short-stay visa:
For this type of visa application, the French consulate in Hong Kong will be your first point of contact.
An application for a French visa for your domestic helper has to be submitted via the official visa website for France (https://france-visas.gouv.fr). More specifically, domestic helpers traveling with their employers must select the visa category « business » (under « your plans » in the visa wizard), then « employed in the service of a foreign or French national » as the main purpose of stay. A tourist visa is not applicable, even for a very short stay because the applicant will be working in France. Therefore, it is important to make sure that this employment is lawful.
It is recommended to file the application more than three months before traveling. Even though you wish to assist your domestic helper in the process of preparing the file and the materials for the visa application, the appointment at the French consulate must be booked under the applicant’s name only (the domestic helper), and failure to do so will result in the applicant not being allowed into the Consulate appointment. As the employer, you are not allowed to be present during the interview.
Once again, when in France, the employer has to comply with French labour laws which are very different from Hong Kong. Among other things, you have to make sure that her salary will be aligned with the French minimum wage and that she will not work more than the maximum working hours as per French law. In addition, you will have to pay the social security contributions arising from this employment as undertook in a “sworn affidavit” that you will have to sign for the visa to be granted.
2. The long-stay visa:
Obtaining a long-stay visa is a longer process and the procedure is more complex as this will allow your domestic helper to live in France for one year and she can thereafter then apply for a residence permit.
The employer has to demonstrate that he intends to bring a foreign worker to France because he cannot find any suitable candidate in France to meet the criteria of the position. This is why he first has to conduct a search for candidates for the position sought (i.e. a domestic worker) in the city where he plans to live, describing the qualities required (for example, someone who speaks English fluently, who is able to look after several children, who can do the housework…). This search for a candidate is usually carried out through “Pôle emploi” and takes at least 3 weeks. Once the search is completed, the employer must be able to prove that a candidate, with the required qualities, has not been found (which means that nobody applied for the job or that he conducted interviews but did not find any suitable applicant). “Pôle emploi” will then provide him with a statement of unsuccessful search.
Once this document is obtained, the employer will have to apply for a foreign worker permit on the official portal of the “Ministère de l’Intérieur” (https://administration-etrangers-en-france.interieur.gouv.fr). This second step generally takes several months and involves providing information about the employer (working contract, resources…), the employee andthe qualifications of the job. If the “Ministère de l’Intérieur” allows the employment of the foreign worker, they will grant the employer a document named “Autorisation de travail (resident hors de France)” for the domestic helper.
After the two steps described above have been successfully completed, an interview will have to be conducted for the domestic helper at the French consulate in Hong Kong to finalize the visa application.
It has to be noted that once the visa has been obtained, it is compulsory for the domestic helper to activate her visa with the “Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration (OFII)” within three months of her arrival in France. She will also have to undergo a medical examination and sign a “contrat d’intégration républicaine” in which she will undertake to follow training courses to promote her integration in France (which will be important if the domestic helper subsequently wishes to obtain a residence permit at the end of her long-stay visa).
Of course, as soon as the domestic worker commences working in France, the relationship with the employer will be governed by French labour laws and the employer will have to comply with French rules (employment contract, pay slips, minimum wages, working time and social contributions.).
The procedure to follow to get a French visa for a domestic helper is clearly an arduous task but it is worth consideration as it can help your family maintain its balance and can strengthen the bond you have with your helper.