France’s visa crisis : Hermelin report’s analysis

17 November 2023 | Immigration in France

With increasingly long processing times and procedures that have become extremely complex, France is facing an unprecedented visa crisis.

As part of the new immigration bill, the French government commissioned Paul Hermelin, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Capgemini, to audit the French visa issuing system. Named “Proposals for improving visa issuance”, the study was published in April 2023 with recommendations for dealing with the situation.

ITAMA has analysed for you the main proposals that would have an impact on professional immigration.

Recommendation 11 : “Issuing systemically a one-year visa valid as a residence permit to Talent Passport applicants

To date, most work visas issued by French consulates abroad as part of “talent passport” applications are 3-month visas. Upon arrival in France, foreign nationals must apply for a residence permit at the prefecture.

However, the authorities (prefectures and ANEF online services) are overwhelmed by the number of applications and are unable to issue residence permits on time.

The report therefore suggests systematically granting a 1-year visa valid as a residence permit (VLS-TS) instead of a 3-month visa. This would give applicants and administrations more time to process applications for residence permits. However, it does not solve the original problem, and simply move it back.

This provision would also force applicants to renew their VLS-TS at the end of the 1st year and pay governmental fees (timbre fiscal) again. It would also make it less attractive for French companies compared to other employers in Europe.

This proposal simply relieves the administrative burden, bypassing the problem and penalising applicants. It would be more useful to put forward solutions aimed at streamlining the current procedures for applying for residence permits.

Recommendations 12 and 13 : “Reduce the number of Talent Pass categories to 5 & widen the pool of potential Talent Pass applicants by decreasing the minimal wage amount for graduates

There are currently 10 categories of Talent Pass, depending on the applicant’s situation:

  1. qualified employee / recruitment in an innovative company
  2. highly qualified job – European Blue Card
  3. employee on assignment
  4. researcher
  5. business start-up
  6. innovative project recognized by a public body
  7. investor
  8. corporate officer
  9. artistic and cultural profession
  10. person of international renown

The report recommends reducing this number to 5, by combining all employee statuses into a single category.

In this hypothesis, despite their differences, there would no longer be any distinction between the recruitment of a junior employee (talent passport – qualified employee), that of a highly qualified executive (talent passport – European Blue Card) or intra-group mobility (talent passport – employee on assignment).

The aim of this proposal is to simplify visa applications in order to reduce the workload of the agents who receive the applications. They often lack training on the eligibility conditions required for each of these statuses. It is therefore a way of reducing the time taken to process applications, to the detriment of quality.

Recommendation 19 : “Give priority appointments to applicants for long-stay “Passeport-Talent” visas

When Talent Passports were created in 2017, Consulates were instructed to process these applications as a priority. Although relevant, this recommendation is no longer respected. It would therefore be wiser to understand why administrations do not apply it rather than reiterate a provision that already exists.

Recommendation 27 : “Standardise information on consular websites, service provider websites and France-Visas websites

At present, the many sources of information describing the various procedures are not consistent and even contradict each other.

At the same time, the subcontracting companies appointed by the consulates (VFS, TLS, etc.) are poorly supported by the government. Their staff lack expertise and regularly make mistakes when processing applications.

It would seem necessary for the government to standardise information and provide support and quality control for outsourced service providers (ESPs).

Recommendation 32 : “prioritise in the France-Visas programme roadmap the dematerialisation of all visa applications and connecting it to the Digital Administration for Foreigners in France (ANEF)

The digitalization of immigration procedures is far from effective.

As soon as the procedure includes an application for entry and residence, the applicant has to launch 2 procedures on 2 different platforms : France-Visas in the first instance and ANEF in the second.

The report recommends merging the 2 sites, which would make it possible to :

  • Avoid misunderstandings,
  • Submit supporting documents only once,
  • Ensure consistent monitoring of the application.

Recommendation 33 : “Experiment with an automatic system for allocating appointments to applicants by outsourced service providers

Once the visa application has been completed in advance, applicants must make an appointment to submit their application. The appointment is made online via the system of the ESP in charge of the file. Waiting times are currently very long and can exceed 2 months in some countries (Mexico, Brazil, United States, Morocco, Italy, Armenia, Australia, etc.).

To reduce waiting times, the report recommends that appointments be allocated automatically. In the event of unavailability, only one other date would be proposed.

In theory, the organisation would be greatly simplified for administrations. But in practice, such a change would make the procedure much harder for applicants, and would undoubtedly result in a very large number of complaints.

Recommendation 34 : “Introduce a precise indicator for monitoring the time taken to allocate appointments with outsourced service providers

There is no precise and reliable indicator for monitoring the time taken to issue visas, unlike the time taken to issue passports, for example.

The report suggests introducing a new indicator to monitor :

  • The time taken to allocate the France-Visas number on the online form,
  • The time taken to send applications to the Consulate for processing,
  • The drop-out rate.

This indicator would show precisely where the flaws are in the visa issuing process.

Recommendation 35 : “Experiment with an algorithm for pre-selecting visa application files

Again with the aim of saving time in processing applications, Paul Hermelin proposes to experiment with an algorithm for pre-selecting visa applications. These applications would be classified as “complex” or “simple”, according to criteria proposed by the Entry Exit System (EES).

Following this classification, the “simplest” applications would be assigned to less experienced and therefore less vigilant staff.

Trusting an algorithm and lowering the requirements for agents would only increase the number of errors in the decision to validate applications.

Here again, the recommendation does not address the problem at its source, but attempts to remedy it by introducing a new “system” to circumvent it.


Overall, the Hermelin report leaves us rather sceptical, if not in total disagreement. The recommendations put forward do not provide concrete solutions, but bypass the root causes of the visa crisis.