I want to settle in France. I am a 39 year old Australian living in Australia. I am single and I have no dependants so I am only concerned about myself in this process.
My understanding of the process is this:
- Get a job offer from an employer in France (while I'm still in Australia)
- Wait for them to fill in the temporary work permit paperwork and submit it to the appropriate French government department
- Fly to Sydney from my home city to apply for a working visa in person
- Fly back home
- Wait at least 2 weeks for notification of whether the visa was approved or not (could be up to 2 months)
- If the visa was issued, fly to France and start working!
- After five years of living in France start the process for permanent residency or citizenship
- Alternatively, marry a French citizen and wait two years, but I'm not banking on that!
I have completed a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course so I am qualified to work as an English Teacher, which I understand is one of the easiest jobs to get in France as an English speaking foreigner. I have been in contact with an agency that would hire me instantly... if only I already had a working visa! They employ over 1000 foreigners every year but they don't submit the form for the temporary work permit. Most people they hire are students, who are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week on a student visa. If you want to apply for a student visa you have to do so before your 31st birthday, so I am too old to qualify for that.
The TEFL industry is huge in France, with most jobs being placed in August/September and January. I am planning to go in January if I can get everything worked out. This will give me three months to finalise my life in Australia. I rent a house by myself so I need time to dispose of my car, whitegoods, furniture, books, DVDs, etc. Fortunately, I don't own the house I live in so I don't need to sell it, just notify my landlord giving them sufficient advance notice.
I usually work as programmer in Australia but I am not planning on changing jobs quickly in France. As long as I enjoy what I'm doing, I can live off the income and it's in France I don't mind. I have enough savings that I could support myself for a short time if money was tight. It's probably hard for me to get a programming job in France anyway as French employers are required by law to fill all positions with French or EU citizens if available first.
I am also interested in working in the Netherlands on a short-term basis but not settling there. I mention this only in case there is a way of working in one EU country, then easily transferring to another one.
As far as I can tell, the only option for me is to get a working visa before I go to France (Australians can only be issued French visas in Sydney). I can't go to France to look for work because if I was offered a job I'd have to fly back to Australia and wait at least 2 weeks before being issued a visa, which is not guaranteed. Most of the advice I'm reading online says that to get a job as an English Teacher you need to be in France for face-to-face interviews.
Am I missing some relatively easy way of making this happen? Is there another way I could work in France long-term with a view to staying permanently?