France creates a special visa for entrepreneurs, engineers and investors

Just in time before the 2017 presidential election in France, the current French government wanted to announce one last thing to foster French startups. The French Tech Visa is a new program for foreign tech talent. It’s an easier way to get a four-year visa for you and your family.

France’s Minister of State for Digital Affairs Axelle Lemaire teased some information about this new program on the TechCrunch stage at CES earlier this month:

Back in 2015, the French government launched the French Tech Ticket, a package with a visa, a small grant and some help when it comes to administrative task. So far, two batches of startups have chosen to spend some time in France, and this program seems to be going well.

But what if you’re a kick-ass engineer or designer, a VC or you’re a late stage entrepreneur? The French Tech Visa goes further than the French Tech Ticket.

If you live in the European Union, you don’t need a visa. If you’re a foreigner coming from the rest of the world, you can apply and you might get fast-track processing. Your family is also eligible, and there’s no quota as far as I know.

For entrepreneurs, in addition to the French Tech Ticket, there will be partnerships with accelerators and startup competitions. If you manage to participate in one of those, you may get a visa.

For employees, the government is going to make a list of “100+ leading French startups.” The list isn’t done yet. If you get hired by one of these companies, you get a visa. This seems like a sweet deal for engineers, designers, marketers and more. You don’t have to stay at the company for the duration of the visa.

For other tech companies, you can apply for a “Passeport Talent”, which is quite new as well. It reminds me of the O-1 visa in the U.S., and it lets anyone with exceptional technical, artistic or scientific abilities get a visa.

Investors get a visa if they work for a French VC firm, or work for an international VC firm and expand with a new office in France. They can also apply for a Passeport Talent.

This is a great move as French startups have been doing pretty well lately. It’s starting to get harder to hire talented employees in France, so this new visa program is going to foster French startups.

I’ve heard about many people working in the French startup ecosystem who had countless of troubles in order to get a visa. Yes, it takes a lot of time and paperwork to get a visa in the U.S. But it’s also similar in France. I can’t wait to hear some feedback to see if it is indeed much faster to get a visa this way.

And of course, the French government wanted to launch this program before the presidential election because the next president could be much more suspicious when it comes to immigration. It’s harder to stop something that is already working well.