During our annual interview with Frédéric Jung, Consul General of France in San Francisco, we reviewed the accomplishments of the year 2023 and explored promising prospects for 2024.
Throughout our conversation, we addressed key issues to better understand the developments and challenges facing the French community in the Constituency. Explore the Consul’s insights on current matters and future initiatives to strengthen ties between France and the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Could you provide an overview of the French community figures in the constituency?
I am pleased to note that the upward trend observed last year continues: the number of French citizens registered in our constituency has increased from 25,000 in 2021 to over 27,000 in 2023. We remain the second-largest French community in the United States and the thirteenth worldwide.
In this context, we strengthened our consular actions over last year. For example, we issued nearly 6,700 passports and identity cards in 2023, compared to 5,300 in 2022, representing an increase of over 26%. We also increased the number of consular tours in the constituency from 5 in 2022 to 8 in 2023.
“I would like to add that a recent major measure has been implemented to benefit foreigners requiring a visa for France: they can now submit their visa applications at our VFS-Global service provider’s offices in Seattle, without having to visit the VFS offices in San Francisco.”
- The European elections will take place in spring 2024. How can French citizens in the constituency participate in the election?
The European elections of 2024 are of significant importance! Historically, European elections have had limited participation abroad. However, it is important to note that many of the standards that apply today in the digital domain (for the protection of personal data, internet user protection, especially minors, AI regulation, fair competition between digital giants and small innovative companies, etc.) stem from European legislation. The Strasbourg Parliament thus has a direct impact on the digital businesses in our constituency.
The date of the European elections is set for June 8, 2024, for French citizens in the American continent. In our constituency, it will be possible to cast a ballot at one of the 11 polling stations set up in 9 different sites. This is an exceptional service provided by the French government, which very few other nations offer.
I strongly encourage French constituents to exercise their right to vote in these European elections. Following the recent presidential election, the electoral rolls have been carefully updated. Nevertheless, I invite every French citizen to verify that they are correctly registered at the right polling station through the following link: https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/demarches-et-outils/ISE.
For those planning to be absent on June 8, consider using a proxy, which is easy to establish. All information about proxies can be found here: https://sanfrancisco.consulfrance.org/etablir-une-procuration
- Business: What are the major highlights to remember for 2023?
- E1 and E2 Visas (entrepreneurs and investors)
First, there is excellent news with the Franco-American agreement for the extension of investor visas.
In one direction (towards France), the procedure is simplified for American investors and their families, who can obtain a Talent Passport (residence permit serving as a visa) for a duration of 4 years. Similarly, French investors wishing to invest in the United States now benefit from the extension of the duration of E visas to 4 years, compared to only 25 months before.
These measures follow the State Visit of the French President to the United States in December 2022, during which our two countries committed to deepening their trade and investment ties. This visa extension was eagerly awaited by the French in the United States.
- The attractiveness of France
For the fourth consecutive year, France maintains its position as the most attractive country in Europe in terms of foreign direct investment decisions (Ernst & Young report). This underscores France’s exceptional competitiveness in attracting foreign investments, thanks to major structural advantages.
At the heart of the European market with 450 million consumers, France offers stability in energy prices, quality infrastructure, and benefits from remarkable talent. A concrete example of this attractiveness is the strengthening of AI teams by all major tech companies, choosing to consolidate their teams in Paris (Meta, for example).
- The business ecosystem in the Bay Area
Similar advantages are noted in the other direction with an extremely dynamic French Tech, represented in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley by Reza Malekzadeh, who has recently been awarded the National Order of Merit. He oversees a dynamic cohort of entrepreneurs, investors, and executives, admired by many in the Bay Area and beyond.
The French American Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco (FACCSF) and Business France also notably animate the French ecosystem. The very dynamic FACCSF, in particular, has exciting projects for the coming year.
“I would like to take this opportunity to convey a message to entrepreneurs regarding V.I.E: consider it !!!”
This is a highly qualified and cost-effective workforce, providing young individuals with extremely valuable experience. It is worth noting that salaries have been adjusted in the Bay Area to make them more attractive. To benefit from the V.I.E program, companies must be French and have a legal connection with a foreign structure or a partnership agreement (French subsidiary of a foreign group, French distributor of a foreign company, etc.). V.I.E missions can serve the prospecting of new markets, reinforcement of local teams, search for partners, or the establishment of structures abroad. Since the pandemic, human resources departments have somewhat overlooked this program, especially in the western United States, yet it is a real asset for companies and a great opportunity for young people.
And finally, regarding France’s influence here, I also want to remind everyone that with 76,000 jobs created by French companies in California, France is the 4th foreign job provider in California!
- French language education: Are there new initiatives planned under the “French for All” program in the region?
The main goal of “French for All” is to maximize the number of French speakers. This expansion must be comprehensive, targeting all educational levels, from kindergarten to universities, including primary schools, secondary schools, and Alliances Françaises (we have 15 in the constituency).
The project aims to diversify its actions by supporting universities and schools in developing new programs. With its large number of AEFE-approved establishments (12) – including the only certified one in the United States (the French Lycée of San Francisco) – the consular district contributes significantly to this objective. “At the end of my term, the Consulate General will have accompanied two new schools towards AEFE approval. It is a great pride.”
The constituency also has 45 bilingual American schools, with a significant portion in Utah. French For All aims, among other things, to develop immersion programs in American public schools. And there are particularly moving success stories. In Anchorage, for example, thanks to the passion of some American teachers and timely support from France, 300 children, with no direct link to France, now speak, exchange, and sing in perfect French. Thanks to this French-American bilingual program, an elementary school that was destined to close has become one of the most dynamic in the city. What a beautiful success!
We aim to replicate such models throughout the constituency, with the support of French public funding to encourage these initiatives.
Finally, I cannot talk about French education without mentioning the fundamental role of “FLAM” (French as a mother tongue) organizations that provide French language courses in an extracurricular context to French-speaking children. These structures play a fundamental role in allowing many young people to preserve their French heritage.
- A diplomatic inspection was conducted last November, what was its objective?
In November 2023, a diplomatic inspection mission was carried out across the French diplomatic and consular network in the United States. The mission’s goal was to evaluate the functionality, structure, and actions of our diplomatic and consular operations, as well as to assess the alignment of our resources and objectives. These routine inspections occur periodically within the entire French diplomatic and consular network globally, offering valuable insights to enhance our strategies and initiatives.
- In your speeches, you articulate the message of the government campaign MAKE IT ICONIC, CHOOSE FRANCE—could you elaborate on its essence?
Make It Iconic is a comprehensive campaign to promote France in terms of innovation, culture, attractiveness, tourism, research, sports, and the economy. The campaign targets 5 countries, including the United States.
It is a two-way campaign that alludes to France’s influence in the world (cultural richness, gastronomy, science, innovation) but also encourages international talents to come and create and invest in France. This campaign is embodied by some of our greatest talents in each field: for example, Yann LeCun for AI, Thomas Pesquet for space, Anne-Sophie Pic for gastronomy, Kylian Mbappé for sports, etc.
The role of the Consulate General is to contribute to conveying these messages at all times, and especially within the framework of this campaign!
Find all the information on the dedicated website: https://www.choosefrance.fr/en/
- Cultural Highlights for 2024 in the Bay Area:
First, the Villa Albertine San Francisco will continue its regular program of artists in residence, with an exciting lineup for 2024. The year will kick off, for example, with a collaborative project around culinary art, featuring Corentin Poirier, a chef in residence from France, working alongside chefs in the Bay Area.
Additionally, there will be the 5th edition of the now essential Nuit des Idées, taking place on Saturday, March 2nd, at the Public Library of San Francisco, in collaboration notably with the Asian Art Museum. This event has become a key moment in the city’s cultural season, attracting thousands of participants each year.
Also, in this year of the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games, we wanted to focus on sports and the Olympics, of course. A specific schedule will be unveiled soon, but we are already proud to announce the hosting of an event on Thursday, February 1st, at the Lycée Français de San Francisco dedicated to breakdance, a new Olympic discipline in 2024, titled Breaking into the Olympics. It will include the screening of the beautiful film Allons Enfants, a performance by the B-Boy Precise breakdance troupe, as well as a panel discussion on sports as a lever for inclusion. You can reserve your seats now.
Finally, the year 2024 will also be marked by the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Normandy Landing, scheduled for June 6, 2024. The official commemorations and events related to this 80th anniversary are coordinated by Philippe Étienne, former ambassador of France to the United States, and in Germany. A beautiful symbol.
Merci Mr. Consul General