Disclaimer: Having been through the process, I'm providing my own answer to help future startup founders. This is my feedback. I might be wrong on some points as some of this might not apply to your situation. Feel free to ask any separate questions on this site referring back to this question, or add your own experience as a comment. Together let's build French Tech Visa's missing reliable source of information.
Okay :-) The journey begins here : https://visa.lafrenchtech.com/3/french-tech-visa-for-founders
The first step, to be eligible for a French-Tech Visa for founders or "Talent Passeport" is to be accepted to a French accelerator that partners with the program. The full list is here : https://visa.lafrenchtech.com/6/find-the-right-incubator-for-your-startup
Not all startup accelerators partner with this visa ! So make sure to check !
Some are free, some cost a monthly fee, some will take some equity and give you some cash in exchange.
My personal favourite is ADN x IFM http://adnxifm.com/en/home-english/
because you can apply any time of the year (it's not a specific date of batch) and it only cost some monthly fee, no equity stolen. Also the program is at Station F which is a really awesome place to see once in your life :-)
If you don't mind waiting for the next batch period, you can also try the Fighter program which is free for foreigners from some countries https://stationf.co/apply/fighters/ or the founders program (not free, but cheap) https://stationf.co/apply/founders/
Once you have applied to the program and once you're accepted. You should go to this website and upload a proof that you are part of the accelerator :
Unfortunately, this website is only in French for now... Ask help from your program manager to do the upload.
Here is an example of letter I got for my co-founders
Make sure he sends you a scan AND the actual paper version. Some embassies are fussy about this.
Once you have this invite letter, you need to know how to apply for a visa at the nearest French Embassy. This varies from countries to countries. Websites rarely help.
The surest way to know is to go to the embassy, without appointment. Ask them how you are supposed to apply for a visa there. What is the procedure to book an appointment ? What building are you supposed to go ? What are the time schedules of the visa part of the embassy ? How much are you supposed to pay for this visa ? What form are you supposed to fill ?
Show them the invite letter to explain what you're looking for.
This is not a normal visa. Usual visa agencies have no clues about it and some embassies themselves also have no clues on what to do.
What you're looking to apply here is a "Long Stay Visa" "Visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour" VLS-TS (continue reading to have a picture of what it looks like, the embassy will understand better)
The point is. You'll get a visa that will allow to go to France and stay for three month. You won't get the actual passport Talent at the embassy !
It's just a first step that allows you to go to France and start the process.
Once you have an appointment at your embassy, you will have to show them some documents.
-A form that you need to fill (I wish I had a copy of it to share here... If you do, please edit)
-Some cash to pay the visa fees (about 99€, but in your local currency), the exact ammount if possible (most embassies don't take credit card and don't have change to give back.)
-A birth certificate and a photocopy of it. Or anything closely related.
-Your passport (They'll take it if they accept your request)
-The invite letter I showed previously and a photocpy of it. Insist to keep the real one, hopefully they'll let you.
-Any kind of proof that you have the income to survive one year in France.
Some kind of contract with a French or Foreign company that give you a salary higher than 1500 eur per month.
If this contract can be in French, it's a plus (as you will see later)
-3 pictures 35 mm x 45 mm following the norm ISO/IEC 19794 – 5 : 2005
(They can be very fussy about the norms...)
-Maybe, this depends on the embassy, they will ask a proof of address. Like electricity bill (less than 3 month old), or renting contract.
Keep a copy of all of those documents !! You will need them later on !
Once you apply and paid, they will take your passport, and 2-3 weeks later, you'll have the Visa to enter France.
It looks like this (important part in red) :
That's not the end of the journey though.
In your luggage, take your birth certificate and all the documents you used on step one.
Before you arrive in France, or once you arrive in France, you need to take an appointment with Préfecture de Police (police bureau)
If you are in Paris. The Préfecture in charge of French Tech visa is situated at : "Prefecture de Police Place Louis L'épine" https://maps.app.goo.gl/oJ3if
You're looking at Bureau 1511 inside the building.
BUT. You cannot go there without appointment. And how to get an appointment ? You need send an email to this email address : [email protected]
Send them a picture of your passeport and a picture of your special visa.
You'll get an appointment within 2-3 weeks. (so you might as well do that before coming to france, but of course you can do it after your arrival)
They'll give you an addition list of documents required.
Here is the list :
A form to fill : https://slack-files.com/TBY01QKAN-FGH168E3V-37b9123cfc
Some obscure documents (more explanations later) : https://slack-files.com/TBY01QKAN-FGH3H0FT6-5f72220647
Some more obscure documents : https://slack-files.com/TBY01QKAN-FGJHJ0U8N-a42de04f8c
Let's go through this one by one.
Form to fill. Ok. Nothing tricky there. Hopefully they have an Engliash version that they send you by email.
Obscure documents part 1 :
Visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour -> You have that in your passport already.
Justificatif d'état civil et de nationalité -> Your passeport
your birth certificate. AND. A FRENCH TRANSLATION of it !
Yes, even if you have an english version of your birth certificate, they have the right refuse... Any document (except your passport) which is not in French can and will be refused.
Also... They don't just want a translation, they want a translation from a "certified translator" e.g. a translator, based in France that has the right to translate legal documents.
Any certified translation company would do. As long as they are certified in France. For example this company
Now make sure you get a document from the certified translator that proves that he is indeed certified.
Justificatif de domicile datant de moins de 3 mois -> They want a proof of address. Either an invoice from a hotel + document from the hotel or a certificate from someone who host you.
If it's a certificate from a friend who host you, they need a paper where he certify that he host you. A photocopy of his ID card or residence permit and a rental contract or property certificate.
THE BIG FRENCH HACK. Ask a friend to add your name in his electricity bill, it can be done online for free and it's convenient.
Next time he receives an electricity bill there will be his name and your name. This document is a legal proof of address and can unlock access to banks, local schools, employment etc...
All of this should be in French too.
3 photographies d'identité -> 3 Pictures following the same norms (easy to do in France)
Justificatif d’acquittement de la taxe sur le titre de séjour et du droit de timbre -> This you don't need to worry about at this point.
Obscure documents part 2 :
Document visant à établir en raison notamment de sa nature, son objet et sa durée, le caractère innovant de son projet économique en France. -> The French Tech Inviation Letter
Document de nature à établir la reconnaissance de son projet par un organisme public. -> The very same French Tech invitation letter
Justificatifs de moyens d’existence correspondant au salaire minimum de croissance correspondant à un temps plein. -> A minimum one year Contract from any company (French or foreign) that give you more than 1500 eur salary per month. The easiest way is for you to sign a contract with your company giving yourself more than 1500 eur salary per month. Because they have no way to know if your company actually has the money to pay you or if you even received this salary, especially if it's a foreign company.
Again, any documents you bring have to be in French or translated by a certified translator.
Once you have all of that, go to your appointment at bureau 1511
After this appointment, if there's no mistakes in your papers (please let me know if I made any mistakes)
You will have a temporary paper that give you the right to stay in France.
Using this paper you can stay in France for as long as you want, go abroad, come back. It counts as a visa for you (you still need to carry your passport though).
The paper looks like this :
After 1-2 month, your residence permit card is ready, you will be notified by SMS and have an appointment to go pick it up.
In the meantime, you have to pay some taxes online.
WARNING ! Normally you are able to pay those taxes by different, ways, by buying a physical tax stamp, or by paying online. Here, you can only pay online.
Go to this website and pay the amount that was specified in the SMS you received. For me it was 269 eur.
Website to pay the online taxes
Two situations. Either you can make it to this appointment on time.
Or, you need to contact them at : [email protected]
They will keep your card there for 3 year waiting for you to pick it up, so no worries if you can't be there at the right time.
In any case, you need an appointment to come pick it up.
The place is the same "Prefecture de Police Place Louis L'épine" https://maps.app.goo.gl/oJ3if but you have to go to Bureau 5.
Once you have this card, you're all set :-) Bienvenue en France
Okey, that's about it :-) This is my current experience. Again I might be wrong on some points or some points might have changed. Please feel free to edit or tell me in comments anything that changed and need to be modified !