In 2019, France received 291 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status and free mobility), 3.5% more than in 2018. This figure comprises 27% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 17.7% labour migrants, 35% family members (including accompanying family) and 11.5% humanitarian migrants. Around 87 000 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and 29 000 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 450 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2019, an increase of 72% compared to 2018. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2019. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Morocco registered the strongest increase (1 700) and Spain the largest decrease (-2 300) in flows to France compared to the previous year.

In 2020, the number of first asylum applicants decreased by -40.9%, to reach around 82 000. The majority of applicants came from Afghanistan (10 000), Guinea (4 700) and Bangladesh (4 600). The largest increase since 2019 concerned nationals of Ukraine (900) and the largest decrease nationals of Albania (-6 500). Of the 86 000 decisions taken in 2020, 22.2% were positive.

Emigration of French to OECD countries increased by 4% in 2019, to 109 000. Approximately 14% of this group migrated to the United Kingdom, 13% to Switzerland and 11% to Spain.

A new visa and residence permit processing system, based on digitalised documents, is going to be progressively implemented from 2021 onwards.

As of 6 April 2021, work authorisations are submitted through a new Online Application Platform. Processing criteria have been lowered, focusing on the enforceability of the employment situation, the employer’s compliance with its legal obligations and the verification of the level of remuneration offered. Along that line, the Shortage Occupation List, which was last published in 2008, has been updated in 2021 with some regional specificities. The lists, which exempt an extended number of occupations from the labour market test, are planned to be updated regularly. The Labour Authorities “DREETS” (ex-“DIRECCTE”) are no longer involved in application processing and are replaced by interregional platforms.

French authorities have also implemented the Revised Posted Worker Directive, which reduces to 12 months the period during which a posted worker can remain under some home country labour laws. After this period, the full French labour law applies.

In the field of refugee integration, France defined in 2019 its priorities regarding integration measures, focusing on the labour market integration of new arrivals through the Republican Integration Contract (CIR) and on how to strengthen local initiatives and their evaluation. New arrivals who are looking for a job can benefit from a labour integration and orientation pathway, involving the Public Employment Service (PES) that best fits their needs. The Ministry of Interior plans to double the number of “Open school to parents for children success” schemes, which give language and civic training to parents. The ministry has also supported NGO-based schemes such as HOPE and ACCELAIR, which support immigrants in their access to housing and to the labour market at the local level and which have been widespread in 2020 throughout all the territory.

In 2020, French authorities also launched a pilot project “1 000 validations of acquired experience for foreign first-arrivals”. Through that scheme, migrants who do not have any documents proving their past experience, can be sponsored by the French Agency for adults’ vocational training (AFPA), after an in-depth evaluation of the candidate’s skills.

The Interministerial Delegation for Reception and Integration of Refugees (DIAIR) provides ongoing support for several integration initiatives, such as the “Investment plan for skills” and the “civic service programme”. The DIAIR launched the web platform Réfugié, which provides simple and translated information and made a call for proposals in 2020 to tackle the digital divide.

Following the first lockdown that started on 16 March, France took measures with regard to the expiration date of certain visas and permits. The validity of several visas (long stay visas; stay permits with the exception of diplomats; provisional stay authorisations; applications for a residence permit or for asylum seekers) which were to expire between 16 March and 15 May were extended by six months. All public services fully opened in October 2020 with a strict health protocol. Language training continued through distance learning.

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