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FRANCE: Changes in Professional Immigration Legislation

There have been changes in professional immigration legislation in France:

List of understaffed occupations applicable to third-country nationals: a decision of Council of State returns the list to its January 2008 version:

With a decree of August 11, 2011, the government had halved the understaffed occupations where the labor market test does not apply to foreign nationals of third countries in the European Union. In a judgment of December 26, 2012, the Council of State annulled the decree based on the irregularity of the procedure of consultation with trade unions.

The cancellation of the August 11, 2011, decree implies that the list has been returned to its state as it existed under the decree of January 18, 2008, which contained 30 understaffed occupations designated by region. The government could revise this list of understaffed occupations, as it did recently for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals (Order of October 1, 2012). The latter order greatly expanded the list of occupations open to Bulgarian and Romanian nationals without labor market testing.

The new provisions concerning the accompanying families of foreign employees transferred to France:

The implementation of OFII (Office Français de l'Immigration et de l'Intégration) as the "single desk” OFII was an opportunity for the administration to clarify the "Accompanying Family" scheme. The "Accompanying Family" category is now available only for the following categories of work permits: "Inter-Company Transfer," "Skills and Talents," and "EU Blue Card."

The "Accompanying Family" category was initially created by administrative practice, which created exceptions to family reunification rules, allowing several categories of foreign assignees to enter France with their spouses and minor children. The scheme allowed an initial visa and a residence permit for the spouse of a foreign assignee. The benefit of the scheme subsequently become conditional upon meeting a compensation threshold of 1,300 times the minimum guaranty index, while providing access to the labor market for certain categories of foreigners, such as the wives of senior management.

The new scheme applicable following the establishment of the single-desk:

The circular of August 3, 2012, repealed the circulars of March 26, 2004; May 7, 2004; and March 15, 2006. The "Accompanying Family" category is now available only in the proceedings of "Inter-Company Transfer," "Skills and Talents," and "EU Blue Card" categories. "Accompanying Family" status is no longer available to the family members of foreign employees seconded outside the framework of these three proceedings.

In particular, foreign employees seconded on client sites to provide international services may no longer benefit from the "Accompanying Family" scheme. Their family members wishing to come to France must apply for a visitor visa at the French consulate having jurisdiction over their place of residence abroad or make an application under the cumbersome family reunification rules.

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