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Can I Claim Unemployment Benefit in France as a Non-EU Citizen? 

If you have moved to France from a country outside the EU, you may need to access public funds in the form of unemployment benefit if you have lost your job. For migrants, negotiating the local administration can be especially difficult, given the language barriers and complexity of red tape. In this article, we will look at whether it is possible for a non-EU national living in France to apply for unemployment benefit if they lose their job.

Can A Non-EU National Apply For Unemployment Benefit In France?

Yes, subject to certain criteria, it is possible for a non-EU national (i.e. third-country national) to claim unemployment benefit if they have lost their job in France. It is first important to note that there is technically no difference between a French citizen and a third-country national when it comes to eligibility to benefits. The main requirement is that applicants must be a resident of France. As the guidance states, “Beneficiaries must be principally resident in Metropolitan France or overseas territory. This condition is fulfilled when the individuals live in France for six months + one day during the civil year of benefit payment”. Third-country benefit applicants need to show their residence card in order to gain access; “For third-country nationals, it is the residence permit that determines access to social security. If the third-country national presents a residence permit to the social security, his rights are opened almost automatically, without necessarily assessing more precisely his place of residence”.

The unemployment benefit in France is called the “back to work allowance” (allocation d’aide au retour à l’emploi, ARE). The benefit replaces income lost where an applicant is no longer employed for no fault of their own (i.e. it unintentional). Those who are eligible under the scheme will be asked to sign up to an individual job-seeking plan (projet personnalisé d’accès à l’emploi, PPAE).

What Are The Eligibility Criteria To Claim Unemployment Benefit As A Third-Country National Living In France?

In addition to meeting the residence requirement outlined above, to register for unemployment benefits, applicants must meet certain criteria, as follows:

  • Meet the time in work requirement – this means that applicants must have worked at least 130 days – or 910 hours – over the previous 24 months or the 36 previous months at the time of the termination of the employment contract;
  • Have a valid proof of termination of employment – this may be as a result of dismissal, ending of a fixed-term contract, contractual termination, or resignation by the employee for a legitimate reason.
  • Be physically capable of carrying out a job;
  • Be enrolled as a job seeker with the Pôle emploi (the French job centre) and comply with the individual job-seeking plan (PPAE);
  • be actively job seeking;
  • have not reached the legal retirement age (or the age required in order to receive a full pension);
  • accept reasonable job offers (in the event of refusing two reasonable job offers, the job seeker may be sanctioned).

It is also possible for self-employed people and freelancers to claim unemployment benefit in France. In order to be eligible, applicant’s must have gone into liquidation, and they must have previously earned at least €10,000.

How Much Can I Claim For Unemployment Benefit In France?

The unemployment benefit paid in France is typically around 57% of the previous salary but will not exceed 75%. The precise rules on how unemployment benefit is calculated are complex, and there are various allowances available (e.g. the training allowance). Hence it is important to discuss your individual case with your local unemployment office. There is also a reduction of unemployment benefits over time. The rules state, “from the 7th compensated month onwards, allowances exceeding €120.47 are reduced by 30%, and those between €84.34 and €120.47 per day are lowered to €84.33”.

Self-employed people who claim unemployment benefit can claim up to €800 per month for up to six months.

Benefits are typically paid for at least four months but no longer than two years. Beneficiaries over 55 are eligible to receive payments for up to three years.

When making a claim, in addition to the proof of unemployment, it is advisable to take the following with you to the Pôle employ; an up-to-date CV, evidence of your qualifications and work experience, your Carte vitale (i.e. your social security card), and your current bank details.

What Is The Specific Solidarity Allowance (SSA)?

The SSA scheme allows those who have exhausted their rights to unemployment benefit to receive an allowance. The official guidance states that the SSA will be granted “if you have exhausted your unemployment rights. Your monthly resources must not exceed a ceiling of a net amount of € 1,182.30 if you are alone or € 1,857.90 if you live as a couple. It can be maintained in the event of resumption of activity, under certain conditions”. To be eligible, claimants must be an active job seeker and have worked at least five years in the last ten years prior to becoming unemployed. If approved, SSA beneficiaries can expect to receive € 506.70 per month. Payments end when the beneficiary:

  • Has an income that exceeds the ceilings outlined above
  • Is not actively searching for a job
  • Is receiving daily allowances for sickness, maternity or work accident
  • Has their allowance withdrawn by decision of the prefect or following a cancellation
  • Is in receipt of the parental presence allowance or the daily allowance for support of a person at the end of life
  • Has the possibility of benefiting from a full pension or reaching the working age limit

Final Words

If you are a French resident from a country outside of the EU, you will have access to unemployment benefits if you meet the above criteria. This can be of considerable reassurance to those who have little in the way of savings and find themselves without employment due to circumstances outside of their control.

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