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November 22, 2023

France: What Do Provisions of the New Immigration Bill Mean

Immigration laws in France might be undergoing several changes in the upcoming month, as the French Senate is debating around 27 provisions in the last proposed bill.

To be more specific, the French government is aiming at killing two birds with one stone – the new immigration law bringing more skilled workers or workers in sectors with labour shortages while reducing the possibility of bringing more asylum seekers and tightening aids and other benefits for this category, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

These provisions mainly focus on the regularisation of foreigners seeking employment in specific sectors and easing deportation procedures for some other migrants.

The bill was presented on November 6 after being postponed several times. Some of the main provisions out of a total of 27 include the following, which will mainly impact migrants who have reached France irregularly.

France to ‘Regularise’ Undocumented Workers in Sectors Dealing With Labour Shortages

Foreign skilled workers who come to France through irregular ways will be granted a one-year residence permit, which can be renewable, provided that their field of expertise is related to a sector where labour shortage is more prevalent.

In order to obtain it, eligible migrant workers must demonstrate they have never left the country for at least three years, as Info Migrants reports.

Specific Asylum Seekers From High-Risk Countries to Be Allowed to Work During Their Application Examination

If this provision is approved, asylum seekers from high-risk countries will be allowed to work immediately after they arrive in France and after presenting themselves at the French asylum office (OFPRA).

Although the list of high-risk countries is updated every year to include or exclude specific countries, the measure, if approved, will mostly impact Afghanis, who represent the main nationality group to have applied the most for asylum in France.

In contrast to now, asylum seekers will be allowed to work in the first six months of their arrival.

Facilitated Deportation Procedures for Those That Have Committed Crimes

Those who have committed acts that are punishable by at least ten years of imprisonment will be deported from France if this bill is approved by the French Senate.

In addition to deportation, the law intends to abolish some of the categories that are protected from deportation notices. Currently, the law forbids the deportation of people who arrived in France before turning 13, those residing in the country for more than ten years, parents of a French child, and foreigners married to a French citizen for at least three years.

Countries of Origin to Be Obliged into Taking Back Deported Foreigners

The French government wants to create development aid for foreign states that are not able to issue consular passes or even restrict the issuing of visas to nationals of these states. It is up to the country of origin to issue such a document to the state that wishes to deport a foreigner, in this case, France.

Certain Residence Permits to Be Able of Being Withdrawn

The new bill also includes the provision of making possible the refusal, withdrawal or non-renewal of some residence permits, provided the applicant has failed to comply with the principles of the Republic.

Those cases can include gender equality, freedom of sexual orientation, respect for secularism, or freedom of expression.

Language Requirements to Become Mandatory for Candidates for Residence Permits

A multi-year residence permit might not be obtained if the candidate has not reached a minimal level of French proficiency. Today, residence permits are issued on the condition of having French learning within the framework of a republican integration contract (CIR) provided by the OFII (French Office for Immigration and Integration), but without any required final proficiency.

The French senators have also added the requirement for the questions of a civic exam to be related to French culture and history.

However, the French authorities currently require a certain level of language proficiency in order for a candidate to be granted a ten-year resident permit and to obtain French nationality.

Abolishing State Medical Aid for Migrants

This measure was mentioned by the Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin, and it includes removing access to state medical aid (AME) for migrants and instead transforming it into “emergency medical aid”, which has stricter conditions for those that need it.

Restricting state medical aid for migrants indicates fewer expenses as AME is accused of costing too much and generating irregular migration as the benefit is offered in many of the countries of origin of migrants in France and costs around €1.2 billion for more than 400,000 people that benefit from it.

Higher Fines for Employers Who Hire Undocumented Workers

The maximum amount of the fine is €4,000 and can be applied as many times as there are workers affected by the violation.

Bill on French Immigration Law

The amount can be doubled if the offence happens more than one time within a two-year period. This can further make it more difficult for migrants seeking employment in the country, who mainly come to France for better financial conditions.

Family Reunification Rules to Be Tightened

Foreigners in France will have to be in the country for at least 24 months in order to bring their family into the country – six more months than the current requirement of 18.

Income criteria might also apply, as well as membership of the health insurance system for the person who brings their family into the French territory.