Foreign investor in France: which immigration status should you choose?

26 January 2022 | Immigration in France

In 2020, France brought in 1,215 investment projects from about 60 foreign countries. Whether they are setting up a company, establishing a subsidiary in France, buying out or taking over a business, nearly nine out of ten senior executives believe that France is an attractive destination for foreign investment. In January 2022, France and its 20,000 startups reached, three years early, their target of 25 unicorns. Something that might continue to attract investors from around the world…

Are you a foreigner wanting to invest in France? To develop your project in the country? First, you will need to define which immigration status is most appropriate for you. There are different types – the immigration procedures depend on this status and the nature of your project. To help you, here are some clarifications classified by situation.

Case 1: you want to create a new legal entity in France

Depending on the nature of your business creation project, you may be eligible, under certain conditions, for one of the four immigration statuses below:

  • You have an innovative project with the French Tech label – you may be eligible for the “innovative project holder” status
  • Your investment is over €300,000 and will generate jobs in the region (large-scale projects, particularly industrial projects) – the most appropriate status is “economic investor”.
  • Your investment is between €30,000 and €300,000 and your project is not recognised by the French Tech Label – you can apply for “business creator” status
  • You wish to create a one-man business or practice as a liberal profession – you are eligible for the “entrepreneur/professional” status

These statuses have different requirements. They are detailed in the rest of this article.

Your project is innovative and labeled French Tech

In this case, the status to be prioritised is that of “innovative project holder”, regardless of the amount of your investment. Your project can be supported by the State (French Tech Label). The company and its manager then benefit from numerous advantages: support, financial support and incubators spread throughout the country.

To obtain the label, the project must be innovative: it must propose a new good/service or a significant improvement to an existing good/service. The project must also be recognised by the French Tech Label.  In the context of the race for the “French unicorn”, obtaining this recognition remains very competitive, especially since the status of “innovative project holder” does not require a minimum investment amount.

 To obtain this status, you must

  • Have an innovative economic project recognised by the French Tech Label
  • Have sufficient means of existence equivalent to the minimum wage (€19,237.44 gross in 2022)

More info here

Your investment is at least €300,000

Intended for large-scale projects, the Economic Investor status implies a high capital investment and the creation and/or safeguarding of jobs.

Here are the criteria for obtaining this status:

  • Your investment (tangible or intangible assets) is at least €300,000
  • This investment is direct or made through a company in which you own at least 30% of the capital
  • You own at least 10% of the share capital of the company receiving the investment in France
  • The project involves the creation and/or safeguarding of jobs as soon as it is deployed in France or in the 4 years following the investment

More info here

Your investment is between €30,000 and €300,000

If your investment is between €30,000 and €300,000 and your project does not carry the French Tech Label, the status of business creator is the most appropriate.

Here are the criteria to be respected to be eligible for this status:

  • Your investment amount is at least €30,000
  • You have a master’s degree or equivalent. If applicable, you can prove at least 5 years of professional experience at a comparable level
  • Your business creation project is viable and serious
  • You have sufficient means of existence equivalent to the SMIC (€19,237.44 gross in 2022)

More info here

You want to set up a one-person business or work as a liberal professional

If you plan to set up your own business or work as a liberal professional in France, you should consider the status of Entrepreneur/independent professional.

Here are the criteria:

  • If you are setting up a business, you must be able to present a viable business plan. If you are joining an existing company, you must provide proof that your future salary will be equal to or higher than the SMIC (€19,237.44 gross in 2022)
  • Your diplomas and professional experience meet the requirements of the intended profession on French soil

More info here

Case 2: you want to create the French subsidiary of a foreign group

In the case of a group, company or foreign subsidiary setting up in France, its corporate officer or legal representative is eligible for the status of corporate officer.

Here are the requirements:

  • As a future directing manager, you must have been an employee or a corporate officer for at least 3 months in an establishment/company of the same group abroad
  • Your remuneration will be equal to or higher than 3 times the annual gross minimum wage (€57,712.32 in 2022)

More information here

Case 3: you live abroad and run a company in France

Managers of French companies who do not live in France can apply for a short-stay Schengen visa. This allows you to stay in France or in any other country in the Schengen area. If this is your case, and depending on your needs, you can opt for a visa valid for a single or multiple entry (circulation visa).

Maximum authorized duration of stay:

  • Short stay Schengen visa – one entry: maximum stay of 90 days per 180-day period. You can return to France 180 days after your first entry, regardless of the length of your initial trip. Example: If you arrive in France on 1 January and leave on 16 February, you can return to France 180 days after the first entry.
  • Schengen circulation visa – multiple entries: several stays are possible, within the limit of 90 days per 180-day period.

Conditions for obtaining the visa:

  • You are the legal representative of a French company
  • In some cases, your nationality may exempt you from the short stay visa

More info here

As a foreign investor in France, you need assistance with your professional immigration procedures ? Along with our network of experts, we can be at your side to guide you through each step.

Professional immigration