US Income Tax: You should declare your earnings in
France on your US income taxes because the US requires its citizens living abroad to file and sometimes pay taxes on foreign income. Convert your French income to dollars
using the exchange rate that was valid for each day that you received
your salary and add that amount to line 21 (other income) of Form 1040. You can also
write foreign income on the line to the left. If your gross income is
less than $10,000 you don't
actually have to file taxes in the US, but you might want to anyways
to reduce the risk of audit in the future. If your gross income is more than $10,000, then you must file and you will most likely have to pay taxes to the US government. You cannot use the Foreign Tax Credit (Form 1116) since assistants do not make enough money to actually pay taxes in France.
If you lived outside the US for 330 days within a 12 month period and
made less than $97,600, you qualify for the Foreign Income Earned
Exclusion. Assistants usually do not qualify for this because of
the residency requirement. If you are a renewing assistant or a lecteur/lectrice,
you may qualify, and you can use Form
2555EZ. Then write your foreign income on line 7 of Form 1040 (add it to any other income you may also need to put on line 7) and again on line 21, but in parentheses. Essentially you are subtracting out the foreign income after adding it in, so it does not increase your adjusted gross income. Note, however, that although you can exclude your foreign income from your adjusted gross income, you still pay a higher tax rate because when you get to line 44, you need to use the Foreign Earned Income Tax Worksheet to figure out the amount rather than simply looking up the tax rate for your taxable income on line 43. Basically you will be looking up two tax rates: the sum of taxable income from line 43 + foreign income and foreign income alone. Then you subtract the rate for foreign income from the rate of the sum of taxable income + foreign income to find the correct tax amount to write on line 44 of Form 1040.
For more information on filing taxes on foreign income, read Publication 54 from the IRS.
French Income Tax: Income tax is not taken out of
your paycheck like in the US (only health insurance is). But assistants
do not make enough money to have to pay taxes in France, so don't worry
about filing if you don't want to. But if you want to, you can go to
your local tax center (Hôtel
des Impôts) in April and fill out a form to declare your wages
from the previous year (October through December). You should receive
the French equivalent of a W-2 in
January stating how much money you earned in the previous year. Compared
to other paperwork in France, the form is relatively simple to fill out.
If you are a renewing assistant, you will make enough money to be eligible
for the prime pour l'emploi. This
"refund" is paid out in July or August, so make sure to keep
your bank account open long enough to receive it.
Program Evaluation Form: You should receive
an evaluation form to fill out in March that asks your opinions of the
assistant program. I had to return one form to the CIEP (Page
1,2) and one to the
rectorat (Page 1, 2,3,4,5)
by March 30. Nowadays, the form is online
at CIEP's site and you need to
fill it out and print it, before giving it to the head of your
school, who then gives it to the rectorat - so it is not anonymous by
any means! The due date in 2009 was April
20 for 7 month assistants, and June 1 for 9 month assistants.
Closing Bank Account: You should also make arrangements
at your bank for closing your account. You should wait until a few months
after the end of your contract before officially closing the account though,
as you might still receive money in the account (such as from CAF or reimbursement
from social security) after you've left the country. So make an appointment
at your bank to ask about how to close the account (you will probably
just have to send a letter a month or so after you've returned home) and
what you need to return to them (usually your carte bancaire and your
Breaking Internet or Phone Contract: You can use this
website to generate a letter to break your contract. But make sure
to check with your provider first to find out when you must do this (usually
a month in advance) and if there is a fee. Anytime you send a letter in
the mail, you should send it recommandé with an accusé
de reception. This way, the company cannot claim they didn't
receive your letter. In addition, you should go to your bank and block
the company from taking any more automatic payments out of your account.
You usually have to pay for this service, but it is worth it, because
sometimes even if you send a letter to break your contract, the company
will continue to charge you months later!
Breaking Lease: If you are officially renting an apartment
and not just subletting, you must inform your landlord three months in
advance of your departure that you are breaking the lease. You may or
may not want to leave a forwarding address, depending on if the landlord
still owes you the security deposit. There is a special tax called taxe
d'habitation that you pay on the apartment that you were living in
on January 1, regardless of when you moved in or out. However, you are
not informed of this tax until the fall of the same year, so if you leave
France in the spring and leave a forwarding address, the French government
will send you a bill for the tax at your permanent home. Furthermore,
your landlord may keep part of your security deposit in order to pay this
tax. The tax is calculated based on the size of your city, how much you
earn, how much other revenue the city receives from other sources, etc.
Recently, the TV tax (about 120 €) is automatically added to the taxe
d'habitation and yes, there really is a tax for owning a TV in France.
However, if you don't make enough money in France to actually pay taxes,
you might be exempt from paying it, or you can at least get it reduced, but you must
declare your wages at your local tax center in April in order to prove
Mailing stuff home: You'll most likely have too much
stuff to bring back in your suitcases, so if you want to mail some packages
back home, check the tarifs page for weight limits (maximum is 20 or 30 kg) and prices. You should
check with your airline first to see if it would be cheaper to just
check in another suitcase instead of trying to mail everything home. La Poste used to offer a cheaper & slower option for sending packages internationally (économique), but unfortunately it was discontinued in 2010. Now the only options are regular Colissimo International rates or the Colissimo Emballage International rates, where you send a pre-paid box that only comes in two sizes/weight limits: L is 31.5 x 21 x 15.7 cm for a maximum weight of 5 kg and costs 36.50€, and XL is 38.3 x 25 x 19.5 cm for a maximum of 7 kg and costs 43€. The Emballage rates tend to be cheaper provided that you don't have something that is too heavy or too big to fit inside the box.
Resume: If you need to add this job to a resume in French, you can use
something like this:
Ministère de l'éducation nationale français
Académie de [x]
Département de [x]
Circonscription de [name of city]
[name of school]
For an American resume, you can use something like this:
English Language Assistant
French National Department of Education
[name of school]
[x] School District
[name of city,] France
This is also what is on my CV:
· Instructed intermediate-level English classes for French secondary
· Provided concentrated instruction in pronunciation, culture and
· Worked with students in 3 different schools in the Grenoble area
Staying in France
Can I stay in France legally after my visa/residency permit expires? Technically,
no. You are supposed to leave the Schengen Zone on or before the date
of expiration on your visa/residency permit, which is ridiculous since it's often the last
day of your work contract. For the non-EU citizens that do not need visas
to be tourists for 3 months in the Schengen Zone, this is actually negated
by the fact that you have a temporary residence permit in France. It
is not possible to go from a residence permit to a tourist "visa" immediately.
The required three month gap between stays in the Schengen Zone still
That being said, many assistants do travel after their visa/residency permits expire and they have no problems because of the lack of border controls between Schengen states. If you travel outside of the Schengen zone and want to re-enter it in order to fly home (for example, travel to the UK, then come back to France to fly out of Paris), this could cause problems. Now that the residency permit is stamped into your passport, it will be more difficult to claim that you are just a tourist as many did when the carte de séjour was a separate card from the passport.
For reference, the 25 Schengen Zone countries are:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France,
Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg,
Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain,
Sweden, and Switzerland. (Notice that the UK and Ireland do not implement the Schengen Zone rules for border crossings!)
Renewing for a second year: You should receive paperwork
for renewing your assistantship at your school before the end of January.
You cannot change académies but you can state if you do or do not
want to stay in the same school and/or city. There is no guarantee that
you will be able to renew, and you might not find out for sure until September
or even October. If you are not able to renew, you can apply again the
following year using the regular application. You will basically be doing
the entire application process over again from scratch. If you want to
be an assistant for 2 years in a row, you must do the renewal form. You
cannot fill out another application for the second year like you did for
the first year.
I received some renewal
information and the 2007-8
renewal form by January 25 at my school. The due date for returning
the form was February 20, and it had to be signed by the chef de l'établissement
or the directeur de l'IUFM. The CIEP now has the
renewal form online if you need to download and print it. For 2009-10 renewals, the due date
was February 27.
I filled out the paperwork to renew for a second year, and I received
an e-mail from the CIEP on May 31 saying that I would receive a job only
if there is a withdrawal in my académie. It also said that I should
receive an e-mail from the rectorat at the beginning of July (though past
assistants say they never received anything from the rectorat after this
initial e-mail from CIEP). The choice of assistants who get renewed seems
to be completely random and very unfair, so don't count on this if you
definitely want to stay in France. You can try writing and calling the
rectorat so they know you really want this job, but they might not be
able to give you any information and they will most likely tell you to
just keep waiting.
I never received anything from my rectorat, so I finally
e-mailed some people in my département at the beginning of July
and was told to wait until September to see if anyone quit and I could
take their job. On September 10, I received an e-mail from the rectorat
asking if I was still interested in being a language assistant this year.
I replied yes, of course, and finally received another e-mail on September
21 giving me an assistant post for the 2007-8 school year. I was unable
to renew in my old schools however, and had to commute an hour to my new
schools. If you are able to renew, you will have to go through a lot of
the same administrative/paperwork nightmare as your first year (including
another medical visit!) and you will probably have to return home to get a new visa in the meantime.
Recruté local: If you have already been an assistant
through the CIEP program twice, then you cannot be an assistant with them
again. However, most académies do a "recrutement local"
between September and December to fill the remaining assistant posts,
so check with the académie for which you want to work and see how
to apply. Sometimes you just need to send your CV and lettre de motivation
directly to the Rectorat, and sometimes they have an application form
on their website. But you will need a valid carte de séjour with
the right to work to become a recruté local if you are not an EU-citizen,
so most Americans are not eligible unless they are married or PACSed to
a French person. Plus new assistants and renewing assistants have priority
over the recruté assistants, so don't count on getting a position
this way (though I've heard that this is easier near Paris where a lot
of assistants quit early.)
Lecteur/Lectrice d'anglais at a university: If you have
completed one year of a Master's degree, you can apply to French universities to work as an
English lecteur/lectrice. If you have a Master's degree, you can apply to work as a maître de langue. Generally, French universities already have exchanges
in place with English-speaking universities, so they may not be hiring
lecturers from outside universities. You'll just have to look at the universities'
websites for job postings. The deadlines to apply can be anywhere from
December to June, so make sure to look early enough. Even if the deadline
has passed, you should still send your CV anyway because sometimes lecturers
drop out or decide not to do the exchange (this is what happened in my
case). Lecteurs/lectrices are paid around 1,200 € a month net and maître de langue receive about 1,500€ net, with a 12 month
contract (though you do have the paid vacations so you won't actually
work all 12 months). You can renew this contract one time only if you are not doing the exchange through your home university, so you
can be an English lecteur/lectrice and/or maître de langue for 2 years total in all of France. This means that you cannot do two years as a lecteur/lectrice and then do another two years as a maître de langue.
stipulate that you will work 200-300 hours a year, so the number of hours
you work each week may change, especially during exam periods. You may
or may not just be working in the Language department; some universities
also want someone to work in other departments that need English,
such as medicine. You do not need the right to work in France to be hired. The universities are generally willing to sponsor
your visa, though of course, you will need to return home to get the
visa. For more information on how to become a lecteur/lectrice or maître de langue, please
refer to my
Finding a job: You can also send out resumes to several
language schools and ask the people at your assigned school if they can
help with finding a job in France. Unemployment is high and salaries are
low though, so don't count on finding anything right away or anything
that pays very well. In addition, most companies are not willing to hire
non-EU citizens who have no working papers. You can try posting your CV
on monster.fr and searching the Pôle Emploi
site for jobs in your area.
Studying in France: You can also apply to study in France.
University is much, much cheaper in France than in the US. Keep in mind
that you might have to return home to get a new student visa during the
summer. In theory, you should be able to renew/change the status on your
residency permit from assistant to student without having a new visa, as long as your
current one is not expired. However, some prefectures are still requiring
a student visa even if the residency permit is not expired. For studies under 90 days in France, a visa is no longer required and you can just use your passport.
PACSing: If you have a significant other in France,
you can get PACSed and after a year of living together you will be eligible
for a carte de séjour that allows you to work (vie privée
et familiale). If you don't have proof of living together for
a year - which can start BEFORE you get PACSed - you can get a residency permit that
allows you stay in France, but not work (visiteur). The PACS
originally began as a way of giving homosexual couples the rights and
benefits similar to those given to married couples, but straight couples
can take advantage of it too. My French boyfriend and I got PACSed in
March 2007, so here's the information about all of the paperwork we needed
to do: PACS Info, PACS2,
Paperwork required (at Tribunal d'Annecy),
Attestation de résidence commune,
Attestation d'absence de lien de parenté,
and Demande d'attestation de non engagement.
Each Tribunal is different, so I can't tell you exactly what
paperwork you need to get PACSed, but this is what we needed
to provide (outside of the documents given to us to fill out):
Contract - two copies; one for you and one for your significant
other - just copy and paste from the site and type in your info
de non-PACS/non-engagement - you must send for this in Paris, and
your partner must ask for his/hers from the tribunal serving the area
where he/she was born. It is only valid for one month though, so don't
send for it too soon.
Certificate de coutume and certificate de célibat - make an
appointment at the closest consulate/presence post of your country to
pick up these documents. You do have to pay for these though by a mandat-cash
that you get from the post office (about 40 € - they will tell
you how much when you make the appointment).
Copies of both partners' ID cards (passport, ID card, CDS, etc.)
Copies of both partners' birth certificates (and a certified translation
if not already in French)
Justificatif de domicile to prove that we lived within our Tribunal's
jurisdiction (such as an EDF or France Télécom bill)
Once you've gathered all of the paperwork, you just need to call the
Tribunal and make an appointment. You will keep the two PACS contracts,
and receive two récépisses
to prove that you are officially PACSed. This whole appointment
takes less than half an hour. Once you are PACSed, you will also have
the right to social security even if you are unemployed, but you might
have to switch from MGEN to CPAM. Also, you can no longer legally
declare yourself as célibataire on official documents, such
as CAF. Even though you are not officially married, you are still
considered a couple for administrative purposes in France. Here is
Marriage in France document - some of the same aspects apply to PACSing,
but not all. You can also check my Expats page about PACSing
or getting married in France.
My experience in getting a CDS due to being PACSed:
Since my original travailleur temporaire CDS expired on May 7, 2007, I
was able to "renew" it for 3 months as a récépissé
with the stipulation that I do not have the right to work. There is some
conflicting information about whether you do actually have the right to
a CDS visiteur after you are PACSed or not. I originally told my préfecture
that I should be receiving a new work contract by the end of the year,
so they said they would issue me a CDS visiteur for the summer since I
was supposed to be getting another travailleur temporaire CDS in October.
I was issued a récépissé that expired on August 14,
2007, and I finally received my visiteur card at the end of summer (the
préfecture claims my first card was lost in the mail, so they had
to order another one). In November 2007, I applied to change the status
on my visiteur card when I received my new arrêté de nomination.
However, because I was changing from a non-worker to worker card, I had
to do the medical visit over again. I finally received my new travailleur
temporaire card in March 2008 after the main office in Paris that makes
the carte de séjours messed up and tried to give me another visiteur
card that was exactly the same as the one I already had. Then I needed
to apply for another changement du statut from travailleur temporaire
to vie privée et familiale because my boyfriend and I had been
living together for a year. I finally received my CDS vie privée
at the beginning of June 2008.
For the Annecy préfecture, this is what is needed to obtain a
first carte de séjour vie privée et familiale due
to being PACSed AND having the un an de vie commune. BOTH PARTNERS must
be present when you apply for this carte de séjour. You
may or may not need to do the medical visit, depending on when/if you've
already done it.
Passport and long-stay visa (type D) - your visa can be expired of
course, as long as you have a valid carte de séjour that replaces
it (such as visiteur or travailleur temporaire)
ID card or passport of French partner
Birth certificate that is less than 3 months old + certified translation
Déclaration de communauté de vie (à remplir
Déclaration de non polygamie (à remplir en mairie)
Justificatif de domicile aux deux noms : contrat de location ou quittance
de loyer ou d'électricité de moins de trois mois. Si vous
êtes hébergé par un particulier, attestation d'hébergement
du logeur + piece d'identité + quittance. Si vous êtes
hébergé dans une résidence, attestation d'hébergement.
3 photos d'identité (45mm x 35mm)
Justificatifs de revenu du partenaire (usually this means the past
3 bulletins de salaires)
Justificatifs de communauté de vie antérieurs au PACS
(official bills and/or attestations from friends and family to prove
that you have been living together for one year)
If your préfecture refuses to give you a CDS visiteur (and you
don't yet have the un an de vie commune required for the CDS
vie privée et familiale), you should keep fighting with them because
they can't expect you to live together for a year in France if they do
not give you a residency card to stay there legally. This is an
official government document that states you do have the right to
a CDS if you are PACSed. And remember that it is recommended to renew
your CDS two months before the expiration date. Unless you have
found another job and your préfecture will let you renew your CDS
because of it, getting married or PACSed is probably the only other way
to stay in France legally for the summer while you wait to see if you
can renew your assistantship contract for another year. And even
if your préfecture agrees to renew your assistant CDS as a visiteur
one, there's no guarantee that you will later be able to renew the visiteur
card as an assistant one when you receive your next arrêté
Unemployment Benefits: You are eligible for unemployment
if you are an EU citizen, or if you have a CDS that allows you to work
(vie privée et familiale or sometimes salarié). As long
as you have worked 6 months out of the past 22, you should be able to
receive about 7 months of unemployment. If your CDS is expired, or if
you have a different type of CDS, you do not have the right to unemployment
(because you do not have the right work legally in France). This means that the majority of language assistants are not eligible.
that as of 2009, ANPE and ASSEDIC have merged into one organization: Pôle Emploi but when I was on unemployment, they were still two separate organizations.
First you must sign up with ASSEDIC, even though the Rectorat will be
paying you the unemployment benefits. You will have two mandatory appointments,
one with the ASSEDIC - where you basically turn in paperwork - and one
with ANPE - which is talking to a conseiller about what type of job you'd
like in France. Some offices actually do the ASSEDIC & ANPE appointments
at the same time though.
How to Apply for Unemployment in France:
1. As soon as your contract is finished, call or e-mail your rectorat
and ask for an Attestation destinée à l'ASSEDIC
to be mailed to you. You may also want to ask for the correct person and
address to eventually send the unemployment paperwork to.
2. Go to assedic.fr and register as a demandeur d'emploi. You
will need to know the expiration date of your CDS, your social security
number, and have a RIB with you when you apply online. (And you MUST apply
online - you cannot go to your local ASSEDIC and do it there for some
Ma 1ère Demande d'Inscription: Choose fin de
contrat à durée determinée as the motif. For the
Département, go to the bottom of the list and choose 99 - Pays
Etranger. Note that for nationalities, Canadians & Americans are lumped
together under Nord Américaine and Australians and New Zealanders
are Océanienne. For Régime, just leave it on General.
Ma Demande d'Allocations: This is mostly just entering
the dates you worked for the rectorat and you can most likely answer no
for the rest of the questions. Finally, enter your RIB info and you're
done! It does tell you to print the entire dossier and bring it to your
ASSEDIC appointment with you, but my ASSEDIC just filled out a blank application
when I was there, so I don't know if printing it is necessary.
You should receive an email from ASSEDIC notifying you of the time and
date for your interview. If you don't receive this convocation, then you'll
have to call your ASSEDIC and schedule the appointment (it's supposed
to be within 5 working days.) Emails from ASSEDIC come from the domains
unedic.fr and tsce.net, so look in your spam mail if you haven't received
3. At the ASSEDIC appointment, they will make copies of your CDS &
Carte Vitale, then someone will explain how unemployment works. You'll
fill out the same forms that you did online (Inscription & Demande
d'Allocations) and you will also need to provide the Attestation destinée
à l'ASSEDIC and a RIB. You may have to return your Demande d'Allocations
by mail, and then ASSEDIC will send you the paperwork necessary for the
rectorat. They will also give you an interview with ANPE and a Préparez
Votre Entretien document to fill out (which is basically just rewriting
the info that is on your CV). This appointment lasted only 20 minutes
4. You need to bring your CV & Preparez Votre Entretien document
to the ANPE interview. My ANPE interview was utterly pointless and they
couldn't find any jobs for me that day. I was told that if I couldn't
find a job on my own within 3 months, I would have to come back to the
ANPE and talk with another conseiller. I've heard some other ANPE offices
offer to help you with writing your CV and practice interviewing for jobs.
This appointment lasted no more than 30 minutes for me.
5. You should receive 3 documents back from ASSEDIC saying that you have
been refused and that your rectorat needs to pay the indemnisations. So
you need to bring or send 1) the notification de refus,
2) the demande d'attestation mensuelle d'actualisation,
and 3) the demande d'allocations to your rectorat. They
may or may not have another dossier for you to fill out and return.
6. After returning the rectorat dossier (if required), you should receive
a letter notifying you of your "droits" and how much you are
entitled to receive each day for so many days. This is usually
around 23 euros a day for 213 days. It starts counting from one
week after your appointment at the ASSEDIC. You will get paid at the end
of the month, just like the assistantship, but not for that month or even
the one before; from TWO months before.
Depending on how fast or slow your local offices and rectorat are, this
process can take a few weeks to perhaps a few months. For example, I
signed up with assedic.fr on June 5 (the day I received my CDS vie privée),
had my ASSEDIC appointment scheduled for June 12, my ANPE appointment
scheduled for June 23, and I just sent the ASSEDIC refusal papers to
my rectorat on June 30. They sent back the dossier I needed to fill
out on July 9, which I returned on the 12th. I received an accusé de
from the rectorat on the 19th stating that had received my paperwork,
and on July 25, I received the final letter saying that I will receive
23.32 € for a maximum of 213 days.
At the end of August, I received
my benefits from June 19 to July 31 at a total of 980 € which was
just an advance and not the real amount.
At the end of September, I received 186 € as the regularisation d'acompte
from June & July, as well as an advance of 610 € for the month of August.
At the end of October, I received 112.92 € as the regularisation for
August and 590 € for the month of September. Then at the end of October,
I received 109.60 € as the regularisation for September but no other
benefits because I started my lectrice job October 1st.
Keep in mind that even though the unemployment money comes from Education
Nationale and not the ASSEDIC, the ASSEDIC is still responsible for administering
your unemployment. This means that you still have an account on the ASSEDIC
website and at the beginning of every month, you have to go on there and
testify that you are still looking for a job but haven't found one yet,
called "actualisation." They pass on the word to Education Nationale,
who thus continues to deposit the indemnisations into your bank account.
You can either log on to your account on assedic.fr (it only seems to
work in IE and not Firefox though!), call 3949 (only costs 11 centimes
a minute...), or go to your local ASSEDIC and use their computer to do
your monthly "actualisation." You can do this as soon as the
actualisation is open each month (second column below). Even if you haven't
completed all of the paperwork steps, you still need to do the actualisation
for the month that you applied to ASSEDIC, i.e. I applied in June 2008,
so I needed to do my first actualisation on 27/06/2008, even though I
hadn't even sent my paperwork back to the rectorat yet.
Note that because the rectorat pays you, whenever you log in to your
ASSEDIC account, it will always say that you have received no payments.
I'm not aware of any rectorats that have an online system where you can
check your payments. Also pay no attention to the payment dates stated
by ASSEDIC. The rectorat always pays at the end of the month instead.
As soon as you go back to work, you should report it to ASSEDIC immediately
(changement de situation). For example, I returned to work on October
1st, and I reported it on October 2nd so that I would be taken off the
demandeur d'emploi list and so that I could receive my salary from my
new job. You must prove that you are no longer on the list, and therefore
no longer receiving unemployment compensation, in order to receive your
regular pay from working.
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