I am an American married to a French national and we just moved back to France. Apparently, for the first year, I no longer need a carte de séjour but only the long stay visa, which I applied for and received before coming here. I believe that I am allowed to work in France, but I am unsure if I need to do something in addition to the visa before accepting a job. The problem is that I have been offered a teaching job and I do not know if I can accept it or not.
The new law was intended to simplify people’s lives, but not surprisingly, changing the system has caused confusion. Under the reform legislation seven years ago, the spouse of a French citizen whose legal status in France came from being married or PACSed was given the automatic right to work as an employee. This was clearly stated on the front side of a carte de séjour mention VIE PRIVEE.
Previously, the right to work as an employee was granted by the M.O.E, which issued a separate dark blue card. It precisely defined the level of the right awarded and also designated the employer when needed. The fact that under the new system the exact nature of the right to work is no longer mentioned on an official card can be very confusing when you change employers, and even more when you change professions.
In order to make things simpler the government has decided that the immigration visa will also serve as the first immigration card. I fully agree that not having to spend four to five hours at the préfecture for each visit is a great improvement. On the visa it mentions the fact that it acts as the initial ID card and therefore the first carte de séjour is no longer issued. On the visa stamp there is now even less space to put the immigration information, and the right to work is not mentioned at all anymore.
You need to study the new regulations and find out for yourself what rights are attached to each type of immigration visa. For most of them, there is another document indicating the nature and the scope of the right to work. In order to have employee status, the foreigner must have a work contract signed and sealed by the administration, i.e., from the La Main d’Oeuvre Etrangère, which authorizes your right to work. In short, you must have this extra piece of paper that really proves your claim. Without having to understand the six types of new visa/carte de séjour, employers can easily be convinced that the foreigner applying for the job has the right to work for them in all the cases except for the visa/carte de séjour mention VIE PRIVEE. This is important because employers are criminally liable if the person works without the proper legal document. It is therefore fully understandable that employers are hesitant to take risks. Unless you can prove to the employer that you have the right you claim to have, they may assume that you are in effect lying.
Concerning your situation, the visa/carte de séjour Vie Privée that you now hold implies that you have the right to work, and no authority needs to issue you any specific paper to be employed in France. Unfortunately there is absolutely no simple way to prove to your potential employer that you do not need further documentation. I suggest that you find a way to address the issue with your employer the best way you can and if it does not work out then you will need professional help, someone who will quote the current law and hopefully convince them of this. This is truly a perfect illustration of a simplification that should help people but in fact backfires, making life very frustrating for the holder of this new visa carte de séjour mention VIE PRIVEE.