US sole proprietor, long-stay visa – fuzzy on ‘remote’ employment/tax implications


I’ll preface by mentioning that I have sought (and continue to) guidance from CPAs and tax attorneys on the below but it’s been an immense challenge connecting with professionals well-versed on both international tax compliance and employment laws. So, I supplement with the wisdom of the crowd where I can and I’m always appreciative of good references. The situation:

  • My wife and I will be taking off for France Aug ’19, staying roughly one year. She, on a long-stay student visa, and a long-stay tourist visa for me. I’m joining her while she completes a program in Strasbourg.

  • Here in the US, I’m an independent consultant (11+ years) filing taxes as sole-proprietor/Sched C. 99% of my engagements are with international clients so fair to say I am “remote.”

  • For 2017, we will be filing taxes in both Oregon and California (where we are maintaining legal residency while on travel).

As many already know, a condition of long-stay visas is a promise to not seek employment while in France. Per application: “that he/she does not intend to have in France a paid professional activity.” We have failed to get clarity on this pre-Visa appt with VFS (San Francisco) and I simply opted to submit a letter promising the above.

What I can’t determine with any degree of certainty is how that impacts:

a) my existing work and future remote engagements - is it business as usual? [my biggest concern]

b) if it precludes me from engaging with any entity based in France even as a remote worker/independent consultant once physically there.

c ) if accepting a full-time (W2) role with a US-based company adds any complications.

And finally, d) are French taxes inevitable, in addition to US Federal and State.

I know that’s quite a bit, I’m mighty appreciative for any input!

I think you would be well advised to check these points with the French Embassy in Washington.
Tourist visas do not usually authorise any employment activities to my knowledge.
The wording “that he/she does not intend to have in France a paid professional activity” would seem to indicate that no paid work (for anyone, anywhere) may be undertaken by the holder whilst they are in France.
I’m sure that the Embassy will be able to clarify these things for you.


hi @Robert_Hodge - Thank you. Unfortunately, the option to seek clarification from DC on anything is no longer afforded. Anything related to visas is strictly handled by VSF - a gov contractor. Walking into/calling consulate affairs was phased out a long time ago. The VSF team handling French visas is based in the Philipines and they routinely hang up on people.

Well @Niramaya - my immediate observations would be:

You can’t legally work in any way, shape or form in France whilst here on a tourist visa.

The fact you are a remote worker, has no bearing on matters - it’s work. Within Europe, the physical place / country where any work is carried out, is considered to be the competent State - as such that State has first call on taxes, social security contributions etc based on your activity. Not applicable in your case as you can’t work as the holder of a tourist visa.

EU resident, remote workers (i.e. home, online etc) moving between European countries face the same regulations although there is no requirement for visas of course.

So IMO this will most definitely affect your existing and future remote engagements whilst you’re in France. It also definitely precludes you from engaging with any entity based in France - if by that you mean working.

Not terribly positive I know but the bottom line is, as a non-EU citizen you need a work permit / visa / titre de séjour - to work in France.

All that said - I’m pretty sure there will be thousands of online / remote workers in France, from all around the world, tapping away happily and completely under the radar! :wink:

Tourist / Private Visas - France

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Hello @Niramaya and welcome to the Forum.

As I understand things, Tourist means just that - a Tourist. If you are intending to be working while in France, I suspect you need to declare that and get the appropriate Visa which will allow such.

Why not contact the French Embassy in Paris for clarification ?

(Edit: my mistake - s/be French Foreign Office not Embassy (silly me) )

Or the American Embassy in Washington​:blush::blush::blush:

:blush::blush: they might be able to help - all depends on how up-to-date they are :rofl::rofl:

Our American friends, recently arrived for the summer, were astounded to hear about the Gilet Jaunes’ activity which has gone on around us since last autumn. (albeit diminished now). They had only heard of activity in Paris … :zipper_mouth_face:

We know you really mean the American Embassy in Paris Stella but clarification may be needed for some​:blush::blush::blush:

No, I actually did mean the French Embassy (Paris or wherever) - as the website can seem a little confusing and there is nothing quite like a French person for deciphering French bureaucracy …:hugs:

Edit: seems I’m being “thick” - s/be French Foreign Office not Embassy (sorry folks)

The UK Foreign Office were extremely helpful when I had a Visa query many years ago… we had workers from Afghanistan and were unsure whether or not such employment was legal. :thinking:

(and NO it wasn’t - they were on student visas and only allowed to take certain jobs during the school holidays. :crazy_face::upside_down_face: )

I’m sorry Stella when you said “Contact the French Embassy in Paris for clarification” l thought there was a French Embassy in Paris - my mistake​:persevere::persevere:

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Ah… sorry Dan … it’s been a long day already… :hugs:

Seems I should have said French Foreign Office - is that better ??

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Thanks, @smw. Any chance you can link to the office you refer to in Paris? I’m not coming up with anything specific on my end. As I indicated to Simon directly above, there is no way to contact the embassy in Washington.

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