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FRANCE: Government is Easing on its Harsh Position on Foreign Graduates Seeking to Work in France

Executive summary: Today was published the much awaited circular clarifying the government’s position on foreign students seeking to work in France after graduation. In a previous circular the government had instructed the  administration to interpret the regulations very narrowly, with the aim of reducing the number of foreign students allowed to change their status upon graduation. Such instructions resulted in a massive protest from the universities, students and even criticism within the government. The new circular seeks to reduce the harsh effect of the previous circular by providing a guideline to avoid tarnishing the attractiveness of French schools to foreign students and undermining French business in the need of foreign talent.

The circular of 12 January 2012 clarifies the government’s position in 3 points.

1. The government recalls the law (L. 311-11 of CESEDA) which it had promulgated to allow qualifying foreign students to change status and accept employment, without being subject to labour market tests. The administration is asked to apply the law whenever the students qualify, and seek the attestations of the schools and future employers in order to facilitate the adjudication.

The annual permit issued under such law is to be renewed by the administration until the end of the first professional experience. The government seems to underline here that the job obtained by the student must not be a permanent position. The student is to perfect his/her theoretical knowledge by a first professional experience.

2. In situations where the pre-stated law is not applicable, the government is asking to balance the objective of restricting migration against the negative effect on the reputation of French schools abroad and need of French business seeking a talented graduate with a Master equivalent or higher. The circular gives several examples where a favourable adjudication of a work permit is recommended.

3. The administration is asked to apply these instructions to status change applications made since 1st June 2011, which may be re-filed. Orders to quit French territory, further to negative decision on change of status applications are suspended while the applications are re-examined. The administration is asked to accept simultaneous filing of double applications: one under Law 311-11 and another under common law.

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