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France allows spouses of foreign staff to work

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As part of the new 2006 Immigration and Integration Law that went into effect in May 2007, France will now allow family members of skilled international staff to work during an assignment.

"Concerns about dual careers and partner employment are the main reason why staff turn down an international assignment," says Gill Gordon, chairman of the board of the Permits Foundation, a non-profit organization that advocates open permits for spouses and partners of international staff worldwide.

The changes apply to intra-group transfers and people who fall under a category called "Compétences et Talents" (Skills and Talents).

The category is for foreign nationals who "are likely to participate, due to their skills and talents, in a significant and lasting manner, in economic development or intellectual, scientific, cultural, or humanitarian expansion of France and the country of which he/she is the national".

"This is a global issue affecting men and women of all nationalities," Gordon added. "Our strategy is to raise awareness of best practice and approach countries that are important to international business. Governments increasingly recognize that allowing partners to work helps to create an attractive climate for international trade and investment and highly skilled, mobile employees."

Family members of Skills and Talents permit holders can qualify for a "Private and Family Life" residence permit, valid for one year. The permit is renewable and allows the family member to work.