French immigration law is divided into two main categories: the regime applicable to nationals of the 26 other Member States of the European Union, and the regime applicable to nationals of third countries. As such, the categories, conditions and procedures for immigration to France open to third parties are uniform, no matter whether the employee is Venezuelan, South Korean or Australian. However, as with any rule, there is an exception: Algerian nationals.
The immigration to France of Algerian nationals is indeed governed exclusively by the Franco-Algerian Agreement of December 27, 1968 (amended). While the other bilateral agreements are added to the common law, and offer more favorable provisions to foreign nationals, the Franco-Algerian agreement replaces the common law. Thus, where the law has been adjusted to profile and needs of corporate immigration, Algerians must follow the procedures that have been in place for nearly 54 years.
For example, the flexible and favorable statuses of the Talent Passport, open since 2016, cannot benefit Algerians, no matter how much qualified and experienced they are. Similarly, intra-company mobility procedures, allowing the mobility of talents, are not open to them.
The arrival in France of Algerian nationals coming to work in France must therefore follow the following steps:
- Online work permit application for employees, regardless of their profile and mobility conditions;
- Application for an “Employee” visa at the competent French consulate in the country of departure (Algeria or other);
- On arrival, request for an Algerian Residence Certificate (CRA) “Employee” at the prefecture of residence. This card will be valid for 1 year and renewable.
In terms of processing times, it is therefore necessary to count 1-2 months before arrival and several more months once in France, with the impossibility of travel between the expiry of the visa and the issuance of the CRA since it is a first card application.
In addition, it should be noted that Algerian nationals cannot benefit from the accompanying family procedure. Thus, if the married spouse and the minor children wish to settle in France, they must individually (and not based on the authorization of the employee):
- Request and obtain a “Visitor” visa from the consulate;
- Obtain a one-year Algerian “Visitor” residence certificate upon arrival in France, which does not allow the spouse to exercise a professional activity.
It should be noted, however, if the Franco-Algerian Agreement implies (in its article 10) that the children of foreign employees cannot claim the issuance of a Circulation Document for Foreign Minors (DCEM), we observe in practice a flexibility authorities in this regard. This is positive, insofar as an absence of DCEM obliges the minor to apply for a return visa after each exit from the territory.
Many other rules apply specifically to Algerian nationals. We can quote, among them, the following three since they have a concrete impact on the hiring of foreigners in France:
- Algerians holding a “Student” CRA cannot by default work during their studies. Work on an ancillary basis is only permitted to them subject to prior issuance of a Work Authorization by the authorities;
- Once authorized, this ancillary work is only open to them up to 50% of full-time, instead of the 60% (964 hours) open to other foreign students in France;
- The change of status to a professional reason can only lead to an “Employee” CRA, regardless of the level of diploma obtained in France.
During a hiring or mobility project concerning directly or, via the family, an Algerian national, it is therefore strongly recommended to anticipate longer delays and more complex administrative procedures than usual.