Starving Artists

This post is part of a series called Q&A Tuesday: French Visas. Our resident expert is Laurence Raybois from Americans Moving to France and Rural France Resources. We want to hear from you! Send me your questions or put them in the comments below. We’ll try to get your question answered in an upcoming post.

This month's question:

I'm a starving artist in Los Angeles, but I would rather be a starving artist in France. I've heard about a "Skills and Talents Visa." What exactly is that visa, and what kind of "proof" do I need to show? Also, would this visa allow me to get a job unrelated to my art? I would probably need to get a day job to support myself. Thanks for any advise you have! I've always dreamt of living in France!


The option you are referring to, the “Compétences et talents” status, given for three years, is generally a good option for artists.  While one needs not be a world-renowned artist to obtain this status, the understanding is that the recipient should be established enough in his or her field that his/her work in France will be noticed, and will be seen as valuable and significant.  For artists, the odds of obtaining the status vary greatly depending on how France’s culture and assets are incorporated in the artist’s work, and the visibility this work of art will enjoy once produced.

To a small extent, the criteria are somewhat flexible, and are also subject to each consulate’s interpretation of the requirements.  In addition, the status is expected to disappear when the new immigration laws are implemented (which might be in late 2015, although nothing is set for sure at this point), so I recommend that those interested in this status not wait any longer than necessary.

The idea of the status is that the person does a project, which is loosely defined in the legislation and could be a lot of things (one exception is that it cannot be a study project).  The project can be the person’s source of income either completely or partially, or not at all.  If it is not the source of income and that the person needs to work in addition to pursuing the project, the work can be either a salaried position or a self-employment situation, or both at the same time, but does have to be in the same field as the project.

Alternatively, and if you can show that you have been successfully self-employed as an artist, you may be able to get a self-employment one-year status.  You won’t be able to get a salaried position once in France, and you will have to renew every year.  It is not an ideal situation but is one option.

Also, consider getting settled in a French rural area, where the cost of living is lower.  Many rural municipalities are eager to attract artists, so that they can then attract tourism around a specific art form.  You may want to read my blog for more information on this, and particularly this page.

Laurence Raybois Consulting © 2015

Art by Alexandr Onishenko