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Fancy IT consulting in France as a Briton? Here’s how despite Brexit

There’s some talk that EU passport-holders are ruling the roost in the interesting job stakes, and by ‘interesting,’ I mean a contract or temporary assignment which is overseas if you’re a Brit, writes Kevin Austin, of contracting overseas advisory Access Financial.

The Brexit bounce for EU passport-holders

Well, there is quite a lot of truth to this talk – specifically, that anyone fortunate enough to hold an EU passport has a master key to unlock more exotic work opportunities abroad. And broadly, it’s because of a six-letter word: B-r-e-x-i-t.

In fact, since the Brexit agreement effective since December 31st 2020, a UK national (possessing no EU passport) must generally have a work permit to take gainful employment in an EU country – in France, for example. Enviously for Brits, EU nationals and individuals hailing from Norway, Switzerland and Iceland, can work in, say, France, without a work permit under the in-place ‘Free Movement of Workers.’

All is not lost, especially if you’re a UK tech consultant

However, perhaps all is not lost for Brits in certain sectors, including technology. Indeed, in France, and specific to France, certain categories of person and activity CAN work in France without a work visa.

These categories are dictated by a time threshold, however. Firstly:

Without limits of time

1.Citizens of a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) Member State or Switzerland;

2. Citizens from outside the above countries (in 1), who are working lawfully and customarily for an employer established in an EU or EEA Member State, or Switzerland, in the context of providing a service, subject to proof of a residence permit issued by the European State authorising work in this state.

The second time threshold, which may apply more widely to UK IT contractors, is:

For periods of less than 90 days

So, the following categories of foreign employees can come to work in France and its territories for up to 90 days — to carry out salaried professional work in the following areas:

  • a) Sporting, cultural, artistic and scientific events.
  • b) Conferences, seminars and trade shows.
  • c) Production and distribution of cinematic and audiovisual works, shows and recordings.
  • d) Modeling and artistic posing.
  • e) Personal service workers and domestic workers working in France during their private employers’ stay in the country.
  • f) Audit and consulting in IT, management, finance, insurance, architecture and engineering, under the terms of a service agreement or intra-company transfer agreement.
  • g) Occasional teaching activities by invited lecturers.

Freelance-friendly? Probably, yes

The wording I’ve used above (borrowed from the French immigration authorities) suggests the worker should be employed, although the categories imply that some of the services may be freelance or self-employed. And this is especially the case, IT contractors take note, under the headings g, and f – which specifies “consulting in IT.” Be further reassured that a director of their own services company is commonly, but not always, regarded by the immigration authorities as an employee.

So the above may provide a way-in for IT contractors from the UK who are looking to work in France on short-term contract (under 90 days).

Bon voyage, potentially

But almost finally, a word of caution. It would be wise not to extrapolate these rules to any other EU or EEA state, because the framework permitting this entry into France as a UK IT consultant is not courtesy of the EU, but is instead thanks to a unilateral agreement by the state of France. So always ensure you check each country and your circumstances to determine if you can work — for gain — without a work visa. Note here, I specify doing fee-paying work because business trips to France by Britons, where working and earning are not undertaken, are permissible under a business and tourist visa. Bon voyage!