It is estimated that there are about 350,000 undocumented foreigners in France, according to the Washington DC-based Pew Research Center (2021). Some of them work and participate in the French economy, but they do not meet the criteria for legalisation by the administration. Others are parents of children born in France. Still others have entered legally (as students, for example) but have not renewed their residence permit and are now in an illegal status.

The cases are varied and covered under specific regulations. We intervene in several languages (French, English, Tamil, Sinhalese, Urdu, Bengali) ​​and support you to obtain a residence permit from the prefecture.

The regularization of paperless is possible. This procedure makes it possible to ask the prefect for an exceptional admission to stay so that the foreigner can obtain a residence permit. People without papers are in an irregular situation on French territory. Indeed, they do not have any residence permit to justify their right to stay. In such cases, there are solutions for the regularization of the paperless, provided certain conditions are met. Generally, undocumented migrants must be able to prove a promise of employment or a work contract. They must also prove that they speak French and that they adhere to French values.

What is exceptional admission of residence through work?

This procedure allows foreigners in an irregular situation who can prove a residence condition and a minimum period of work on the national territory to obtain their regularization and thus, a resident permit. Regularization is an exceptional admission to stay. It is the prefect who decides to admit a foreigner in an irregular situation to stay, by virtue of his discretionary power. These cases are not rare and they are regulated. A 2012 Interior Ministry circular set the terms for legalisation, such as duration of stay in France, family situation, children in school, sufficient resources, etc. Manuel Valls, who was Interior Minister at that time, did not want mass legalization but to provide a roadmap to prefectures to help them grant residence permits in a consistent manner. In this regard, the Valls circular of November 28, 2012 provides  guidelines to assist prefects and allow the regularization of undocumented migrants.

In general, the request for regularization is made by letter sent to the Prefect with all the supporting documents. The processing time for cases varies according to the prefectures. Overall, no receipt is issued during the examination of the files.

A ) Regularization of undocumented migrants for private and family life


Private and family life allows the paperless to obtain regularization. In this sense, private and family life is assessed with regard to the reality of personal and family ties abroad. The age, intensity and stability of these links are taken into account. It is also necessary to demonstrate a capacity for integration in France, which presupposes a mastery of the French language. 

1. Spouse of a foreigner in a legal situation

The undocumented spouse of a foreigner in a regular situation can obtain a regularization subject to justifying:

  • 5 years of presence in France;
  • 18 months of living together.

2. Parent of a child in school

The undocumented parent of a child in school can obtain a regularization subject to justifying:

  • 5 years of presence in France;
  • 3 years of schooling for the child, including kindergarten.

3. 10 years of presence in France

A foreigner who has been in France for 10 years can obtain a regularization, subject to providing proof. In this case, you need to provide all proofs to justify your presence in France.

  • Certain proof: documents from a public administration (prefecture, social and health service, educational establishment, jurisdiction, certificate of affiliation to State medical aid, documents from URSSAF or Pôle Emploi, tax notice ).
  • Real proof: documents submitted by a private institution (pay slips, bank statements, medical certificates).

Limited probative value: personal documents (envelopes, certificates). 

4. Minor turned major

A young adult foreigner can obtain a regularization on the condition of justifying:

  • 2 years of presence in France on the date of the 18th birthday;
  • a diligent and serious school career;
  • stability and intensity of ties on French soil.

5. Exceptional reasons

-A foreigner who is the victim of an offense constituting trafficking in human beings, procuring or victim of domestic violence can obtain regularization.

-A foreign national with exceptional talent or because of a service rendered to the community may benefit from a regularization.


B) Regularization of undocumented workers for professional activity


What are the conditions to be met?

A foreigner who can prove a job in line with his training, his diplomas or his experience and a salary equivalent to the conventional minimum can obtain a residence permit “employee” or “temporary worker” subject to justification. 

There are various scenarios: 

  • Scenario A
  • 5 years of presence in France;
  • An employment contract or a promise of employment for a period greater than or equal to 6 months 
  • 12 months of solidarity economy activities in an organization approved at national level by the State.


  • 8 payslips over the last 24 months or 30 payslips over the last 5 years;
  • A commitment from the employer to pay the employer tax.
  • Scenario B
  • 3 years of presence in France;
  • An employment contract or a promise of employment for a period greater than or equal to 6 months;
  • 24 payslips including 8 for the last 12 months;
  • A commitment from the employer to pay the employer tax.
  • Scenario C
  • 5 years of presence in France;
  • Carry out an activity as a temporary worker;
  • 12 contractual salaries and 910 hours over the last 24 months;
  • An employment contract or a promise of employment for a period greater than or equal to 12 months.


C) Regularization of undocumented migrants for studies


In terms of regularization, foreigners without papers can obtain a residence permit thanks to their studies.

  1. Isolated foreign minor

The foreigner can obtain a regularization subject to:

  • Have been placed in child welfare after the age of 16;
  • For at least 6 months, have followed a qualifying vocational training course.
  1. Foreigner in an irregular situation pursuing higher education

The foreigner who pursues higher studies can obtain a regularization subject to:

  • Have been educated in France for at least until the age of 16;
  • Pursue higher education diligently and earnestly.


How do we help you? 


01 – We provide assistance in compiling your file

An incomplete or poorly prepared file is the first cause of refusal for administrative procedures. We intervene upstream of the constitution of the file to check and complete your file, so that it is perfectly admissible.


02 – Eligibility test

An administrative consultation with one of our experts will allow you to know your chances of success for your residence permit or your naturalization. We only retain files that have a chance of succeeding, before being sent to the referring lawyer.


03 – Obtaining an appointment with your prefecture

Often a major obstacle, obtaining an appointment in the prefecture is an obstacle course (slots unavailable, connection at impossible times) for those who do not know how to proceed. Your lawyer, known to the instructing services, will take care of making the appointment. Failing this, the latter will initiate proceedings before the competent court to compel the administration to receive you.


04 – Verification of file before the appointment in prefecture 

We verify your file thoroughly before your appointment in the prefecture. With an experienced immigration lawyer’s guidance, it allows you to guarantee the admissibility of your file and to provide a response to any difficulties you may encounter. Eventually, you will go to the prefecture with a supporting legal cover letter and a strong dossier. 


05 – Follow up of application 

It is common for the administration to refuse an application. In the event of a rejection, we will guide you to take the necessary actions. 

Is the foreigner must always be assisted by a lawyer in these steps?

No and yes. The decision of exceptional admission to stay by stay is at the discretion of the prefect. 

Even if the criteria set out above are met, it remains possible for the foreigner not to obtain regularization due to some reason. 

Contrary to that, even if the criteria set out above are not all met, it remains possible for the foreigner to obtain regularization by preparing his file well.

In addition, bilateral agreements provide for derogatory conditions and modalities depending on the nationality of the foreigner.

Only a habitual practice of the law of foreigners and a good knowledge of the court decisions rendered in the matter allow to put all the chances on his side to obtain his regularization.