Telecommuting from France
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 work as a speech pathologist here in Canada and will have sabbatical pay while we are away but I'm also hoping to supplement by doing some free-lance work in foreign accent reduction as a speech language pathologist, over the internet. All income would be claimed here in Canada of course and likely all of my clients would be from Asia or India. I've heard mixed things on telecommuting from France. Is this permitted? Is it something I should mention to the French consulate when applying for a year long visitor's visa? Wasn't sure if it would help or hinder our application.
Your situation raises the question of what constitutes “working in France,” legally speaking. Generally, it has been accepted that a person who does business or obtains employment while living in France, and in doing so utilizes resources (employer, clientele or natural resources, for example) located in France, works in France. What you are describing would not meet this criteria, therefore, you would not be “working in France.” Please note that it is completely unrelated to the issue of where the money paid for your services goes. If you were working with people living in France who paid you in Canadian currency directly deposited into your Canadian account, it would still be considered “working in France.”
The notion of what constitutes “working in France” is especially relevant in your case because your profession is regulated, so you would not be allowed to practice your profession in France without first seeking the recognition of your credentials by the French authorities. But it is also relevant for you and others from the perspective of your immigration status. When you do not intend to “work in France,” you can then fairly easily qualify for a one-year Visitor’s status. Provided that you can show that you will have the resources, either from funds already saved or from income such as your sabbatical pay, then you should have no problem. If you had intended to “work in France,” then you would have had to request one of the work status available, which are substantially harder to get.
The situation you are envisioning is permitted, yet, won’t add anything to your application. In addition, officials may fear that you might be tempted to eventually offer your services to people in France, and may view your plans with suspicion. For this reason, I would not even mention it.
One last point: by living in France for more than six months within a one-year period, any income earned anywhere in the world from any source must be reported to the French government, and will be taxed according to French law, for that year. It is unrelated to the issue of weather your work would constitute “working in France.”