New Immigration Bill – France

New Immigration Bill – France

After several days of political negotiations which culminated in a joint committee meeting on 19 December 2023, the Immigration Bill was adopted by the Parliament.

The executive has abandoned many elements of its initial bill. The majority has resigned itself to a version that is more restrictive than the original bill.

Gérald Darmanin, Interior Minister, proposed that the senators adopt a text containing measures that were "manifestly and clearly contrary to the Constitution". But politics, says the Minister of the Interior, is not about being a lawyer before the lawyers. It will therefore be up to the Constitutional Council to "do its job", he continued. In fact, the President of the Republic referred the matter to the “Conseil Constitutionnel” so that it could "rule on the conformity of all or part of this law". The Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, has herself acknowledged the fragility of this compliance.

Months of debates, heated debates, rejections and a special committee to finally adopt the new immigration bill on 19 December… which still needs to be validated by the Constitutional Council and could therefore evolve before its promulgation. What are the key measures of this project?

Reform of "talent" passports

The bill amends several articles of the Code de l'entrée et du séjour des étrangers et du droit d'asile (Ceseda) relating to "talent passport" residence permits.

Firstly, the three residence permits currently intended for qualified employees will be merged into a single residence permit for a maximum period of four years, known as the "talent-qualified employee" permit. This will apply to foreign nationals who can prove that they meet a salary threshold set by decree by the Conseil d'Etat and who find themselves in one of the following situations: carrying out a professional activity with a certain level of qualifications, recruitment by an innovative company or carrying out an intra-company or intra-group professional assignment.

In addition, a new "talent-medical and pharmacy profession" residence permit for a maximum period of four years will be created for Padhue (practitioners with qualifications from outside the European Union) who have passed the anonymous knowledge verification tests (EVC) and signed the charter of values of the Republic and the principle of secularism. Those who have only undertaken to take the EVC will not be eligible. In addition, the foreign national concerned will have to prove that he or she is authorised to work in a public or private not-for-profit health establishment and that he or she meets a salary threshold set by decree by the Conseil d'Etat.

Migration Quotas 

France, like several countries around the world, will set up migration quotas ” for the next three years, the number of foreigners admitted to settle permanently in France, for each category of stay, with the exception of asylum“. There is no information given at this time on the number of quotas. A contract of employment must be signed by any person applying for a residence permit, committing to respect the values of the Republic.

Regularisation of illegal workers

Members of parliament have abolished the "automatic" regularisation of certain of certain illegal workers carrying out their professional activities in occupations and geographical areas geographical areas where there is a shortage of recruitment, provided for in the government's initial government bill.

Instead, they provided for a more restrictive system, giving prefects discretionary power discretionary power until 31 December 2026, inspired by the 'Valls circular' of 28 November 2012 currently in force. In practice, the administrative authority will be able to grant, on an exceptional basis a "temporary worker" or "employee" residence permit "employee" residence permit for a period of one workers in an irregular situation:

- who have carried out a professional activity on the list of professions and occupations and geographical areas recruitment difficulties for at least 12 months (compared with eight consecutive or otherwise, over the in the last 24 months;

- occupying a job in one of these occupations and areas;

- who can prove that they have lived residence of at least three years in France;

- have a bulletin no 2 of the criminal record no convictions, incapacity or disqualification.

These conditions will not be binding the administrative authority", which will therefore be able to refuse to grant a residence permit for "occupations in demand" to a foreign national.

Deposit for students

Foreign students wishing to study in France will be required to lodge a "deposit" to cover the cost of any "removal costs". The text also introduces multi-annual quotas for the long-term settlement of qualified students.

Fine against illegal work and reinstatement of the offence of illegal residence

In addition to the existing penalties, a new fine will punish employers who abuse workers in an irregular situation, up to EUR 4,000 per employee.

Moreover, foreigners who have been victims of “sleep merchants” and who have filed a complaint may be covered by a residence permit for the duration of the procedure.

Finally, abolished in 2012, the fine of EUR 3,750 and a 3-year ban for “illegal residence” has been reinstated.