Emmanuel Macron wants France to become a country of startups, and not just for French founders. That’s why the newly elected president is talking up a new tech visa intended to make it easier for fast-growing companies to hire foreign talent and for entrepreneurs to set up shop in France.
France is not traditionally known as an easy place to do business, but the move stands in contrast to more business-friendly countries like the US and UK, which are shaking up their immigration policies in ways that may squeeze entrepreneurs.
The French process appears “significantly” simpler than in the US, which doesn’t have a dedicated visa for tech workers, according to Kristie De Pena, senior immigration council at the Niskanen Center, a think tank. America’s H-1B visa is cumbersome and is capped at 85,000 spots per year. There are also signs that foreign workers feel less welcome in the US, as the number of applicants fell this year, to fewer than 200,000 from 236,000 in 2016. The International Entrepreneur Rule was designed to help US startups by creating a special visa category, but it has been delayed to March 2018, and De Pena reckons it is probably “dead in the water.”