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FRANCE: Stricter implementation of regulations governing professional immigration in France

Executive summary: A circular of 31 May 2011 from the Ministry of interior provides instructions to the labour agencies which issue work permits to apply the regulations in a restrictive manner and to proceed with greater scrutiny of applications, for the purpose of reducing the number of foreigner legally working in France. Intra-company transfers and secondment categories are not to be affected. However processing time may increase for all categories.

The government has made public statements of its policy to restrict immigration including immigration for professional grounds. In its circular of 31 May 2011, the Ministry of Interior has now transformed such policy statements to a concrete action. This circular provides detailed instructions for the labour authorities to implement the regulations more strictly and deepen its scrutiny of work permit applications.

Greater scrutiny of employer

The labour authorities are to deepen the scrutiny to verify the existence of the employer and its past and present compliance with the labour, social security, and immigration regulations. Any violations may be sufficient grounds to deny a work permit application.

Greater scrutiny of the employment offered

Labour market tests are to be applied strictly and application is to be denied if market analysis reveals insufficiently high tension for the position sought to be filled or the possibility of filling the position by a training program in the short future. Any advertisement seeking candidates for a position must be carried out for a reasonable period of time. The administration is being asked to consider “two or three months” as being reasonable, whereas in the past the administration considered two or three weeks as reasonable.

Furthermore the administration is being asked to evaluate if the foreign worker is not under or over qualified for the employment offered. If he/she is under qualified, the application must be denied. If he/she is overqualified, the advertisement must be modified and published again.

The authorities are being asked to verify that:

  • the compensation meets the appropriate thresholds, as determined by the collective bargaining agreements, market, and the minimum salary laws;
  • the candidate has adequate knowledge of French language;
  • the candidate is provided adequate housing.

Greater scrutiny of change of status applications

The administration is being urged to examine any request for change of status application very carefully, especially when such applications are made from foreign students. The circular states that the foreign student is supposed to return to home country after the end of the schooling. Here the circular seems to reverse the trend set earlier by the same government in favour of change of status applications made by foreign students who had earned a masters degree and seeking an employment in line with their qualifications.

Intra-company transfers and secondments not concerned

These restrictive measures are not to be applied to work permit categories which receive preferential processing, such as intra-company transfers, secondments, and seasonal workers.

Increase in processing time

Since the stricter application and increase in scrutiny will take more time, it is expected that the processing time may increase, including with respect to the preferred categories, such as intra-company transfers, secondments and seasonal workers.

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