Can a foreign student do a work-study contract?

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The alternation allows you to follow theoretical training and to work in a company at the same time. Work-study programs are especially beneficial because they help young people become familiar with the workplace. It can also lead to recruitment. You are a foreign student and you want to know if you have access to the work-study program? The answer is yes. However, access to work-study programs for foreign students is subject to a number of criteria.

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The work-study contract for students from the European Union

The principle of freedom of movement applies to students who are nationals of a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA ) country and who wish to sign a work-study contract. This means that even if you are a foreigner, you do not need to apply for a work permit.

However, when you sign your work-study contract, whether it is an apprenticeship contract or a professionalization contract you must present a valid piece of identification. You must have a European passport or national identity card and a French social security number.

Nationals of the Swiss Confederation (Switzerland), if they are not members of the EU, can sign a work-study contract under the same conditions as other European residents.

List of countries concerned:

  • European Union (EU) member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom;
  • Member States of the European Economic Area (EEA): EU member states as well as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

The work-study contract for non-European foreign students

Access to work-study programs for foreign students from countries other than those of the European Union is conditional. Indeed, you must prove that you have been in France for one year before you can register for a work-study program. The student must hold a residence permit authorizing him or her to work and thus allow the exercise of a professional activity in alternation. If the student has a “Private and Family Life” residence permit, he or she can access the work-study program without any conditions. Otherwise, he or she must hold a long-stay student visa (valid for 1 year) or a temporary student residence permit (valid for 1 year) or a multi-annual student permit (valid for 2 to 4 years).

Steps to follow to do a work-study program as a foreign student

The following steps are valid for accessing the apprenticeship contract or the professionalization contract:

  • sign an employment contract with your employer. Indeed, the training can only be validated after signing the contract. Nevertheless, it is possible to start work 2 months before the training or 1 month after the beginning of the training in a specialized school such as INSEEC. This is possible if your contract is an apprenticeship contract. If it is a professionalization contract, it is possible to start work up to 1 month before the beginning of the school year, however you cannot start your work once the school year has passed.
  • apply for a temporary work permit (APT) from the Direction régionale des entreprises, de la concurrence, de la consommation, du travail et de l’emploi
  • Obtain a certificate of attendance from the school or CFA where you completed the first year;
  • Apply for your residence permit, or renew it.

Obtaining a work permit for foreign students in order to access a work-study contract

In order for the foreign student to be able to work, a work permit application must be made. The employer will have to apply online to the DREETS (Direction régionale de l’économie, de l’emploi, du travail et des solidarités).

List of documents to be provided for the application for a temporary work permit :

  • Valid identity document
  • valid residence permit with the mention “student
  • proof of enrollment in a school of higher education
  • work-study contract
  • CERFA completed by the employer

Residence permit for foreign students to access work-study contracts

The obligation to possess a residence permit depends on the age of the student. If the student wishing to do a work-study program is a minor, he or she does not need a residence permit. If the student is of age, the residence permit is imperative. There are different types of residence permits. Many of them allow for work-study programs. It is possible to get information at the prefecture of your region.

The case of foreign students with a master’s degree or a graduate degree who want to enter a work-study program

Foreign students preparing a work-study program at the Master’s level or graduates of the Grandes Écoles must have been in France for at least one year before being able to work-study. Newcomers are not eligible for work-study programs.

Updated 7 September 2023