Immigrants; how many first residence permits does France issue?

What are most of these permits issued for? In the footsteps of the myth of "France that welcomes everyone" and the figures of the French Ministry of the Interior. How are false truths about immigrants created in public opinion?

   "A lie repeated 10 times remains a lie. Repeated 10,000 times, it becomes the truth". This was one of the favorite axioms and sayings of Hitler and Goebbels. The two black geniuses of propaganda knew this truth of human nature only too well. And they did not hesitate to use it.

Because yes: a lie can turn into a truth. It is scientifically proven. " Over time, repeated exposure to disinformation can create an illusory truth effect. This phenomenon is linked to memory, as familiar information is more easily recalled and appears more reliable as a result". (De Keersmaecker et al. (2020). Hasher et al. (1977).

Figures, myths, and the creation of false truths

On July 17, 2018, Roberto Savio, journalist, President Emeritus and founder of IPS Inter Press Service, revealed in Rome the results of a survey conducted with 23,000 citizens in France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the USA. According to him, a great level of disinformation resulted: Italians thought that immigrants represented 30% of the population when this figure was only 10%! The Swedes thought that immigrants occupied 30% of the population, when the figure is 20%! « Italians also believe that 50% of immigrants are Muslims, when the figure is 30%. In contrast, 60% of immigrants are Christians and Italians think they are only 30%," added Savio.

A few weeks ago, while the reception of the OCEAN Viking ship divided the political class in France, the negative myths went even further. "39% of the French see immigrants as a "threat" for the country", was the result of the survey conducted by the CSA institute and published in CNEWS on November 17, 2022.

Myth/ Everyone comes to France and France welcomes everyone!

The truth :
• According to the French Ministry of the Interior, France issued 270,925 first (provisional) residence permits in 2021**.
• But of this number, 173,538 are student visas and “Family” (French family, family member, personal and family ties) residence permits.
• Only 74,036 “Humanitarian”, “Economic” and “Divers” residence permits included.
Only 39,660 residence permits for “Humanitarian” reasons (refugee and stateless person, asylum and subsidiary protection, victim of human trafficking, sick foreigner, victim of domestic violence).

The false negative truths about migrants are so strong that, in 2020, even when their global number decreased significantly by 2 million and first-instance asylum applications were 1.1 million (45% less compared to 2019), due on the restrictions on mobility related to COVID-19, "...against this background, the COVID-19 pandemic intensified disinformation about migrants, who were variously attacked for introducing the virus or causing an increase in cases". *, according to IOM (World Organization for Migration).

Repeated lies create false truths. When the latter feed on fear and lack of empathy for those in need, negative myths are created very easily.

Here is one of the most popular:

Everyone comes to France and France welcomes everyone!

It is one of the most accepted and repeated myths in France. Commonly used publicly and politically, especially by the extreme right, without support in official data, it is confirmed year after year by polls published in the media. The result: More and more French people think that there are more foreigners in their country than it should be, and that the government does not have a deterrent policy. « "The public debate on immigration in France is completely inconsistent with the truth on the ground", - declared François Héran in a column published on November 8, 2022 in the newspaper Le Monde which commented: Professor at the Chair of the College of France for Migration and Societies, Héran reminds us, with supporting figures, how limited immigration is, much smaller than the place it occupies in the public space".

But let's see more specifically how immigrants are welcomed in France, i.e. how many first residence permits1 are given to them:

According to the Ministry of the Interior, France issued 270,925 first (temporary) residence permits in 2021**. Seen on block, without analyzing it, the figure looks quite big. If we enter one by one the categories, the situation changes.

First, because most of these permits, according to the French Ministry of the Interior, are “Student” visas (the largest group with 87,694 permits) and "Family life” permits - French family, family member, family relationship - second largest group with 85,844 permits). Taken together, these two groups give a figure of 173,538 (“Student” visas and "Family life" residence permit). So, put in numbers, by the French Ministry of the Interior itself, 64% of residence permits for foreigners are given to students who come to study in France (proven as a benefit for the country) and to those who marry French or have family ties with them.

All other categories, i.e. "Humanitarian", "Economic" and "Divers" round off the figure of 97,387 residence permits.

Among them, the most talked about category, the "Humanitarian" one, which includes all permits for refugees, stateless persons, victims of apartheid, asylum seekers, sick foreigners, victims of human trafficking and victims of intimate partner violence, results in fewer than 40 000 residence permits in France! More precisely, 39,660. We are talking about one of the richest and developed countries in the world, so this figure should be placed well under this perspective. Currently, according to the latest report of the IOM (World Organization for Migration), there are a record number of people displaced from their countries of birth due to wars, bloody conflicts, and natural disasters.

It is worth stopping a little at the "Economic" category to better understand how much France is frugal even in delivering permits to foreigners who want to work in this country. This permit is granted to scientists, artists, full-time employees, seasonal workers and the self-employed. For all of these, France granted, temporarily last year, only 36,095 permits.

The last category, "Divers" includes all visas granted to visitors to France, foreign minors, ex-soldiers who have fought for France, etc. For them, last year, the state gave 21,632 residence permits, according to the same minister.

And, if you think that in previous years the numbers were higher, just look at the chart above, part of the official document of the French Ministry of the Interior. There it seems clear that 2021 was, so far, the most generous year...


1 First residence permits are those that are given to foreigners after their first request to stay in France. So, officially, their renewal does not count as a new permit, even if the reason for issuance has changed.



“This article is produced as part of the "Migration, youth and internet - 2" project, with the support of funds from the French Development Agency (AFD), Grand Est Solidarités et Coopérations pour le Développement (GESCOD) and with the support of the AMI-PLUS association. The sources of the information are quoted, and when a personal opinion is given, it engages only the author. The content of the articles does not engage the previously named structures".

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