The new law, what changes for immigrants?

What new residence and work permits for various professions in France? And why the law may become tougher regarding the expulsion of foreigners?

The final version of the immigration bill was published this Wednesday, December 21, 2022. The French government sent it, Monday, December 19, 2022, to the Council of State. According to media, the text facilitates the expulsion of foreigners in an irregular situation, in particular those who pose a threat to public order. At the same time, the government intends to introduce new residence permits, in particular for so-called "shortage occupations" and for the foreign doctors.

"To control immigration and improve integration": the title alone sums up the desire to display a balanced project on this very divisive subject, around which the government must find a majority, - declares Ouest France. -Among the key measures is the creation of a "shortage occupations" residence permit, for sectors that lack manpower, such as construction and medico-social. The text specifies its contours: valid for one year, it must come into force "on an experimental basis" until December 31, 2026, after which a report will be sent to Parliament".

Let's take a closer look at what this law contains.

Shortage jobs, a special residence permit

Integration of foreigners, respect for French laws, easier access to work in sectors in tension: these are, according to the French media, the three pillars of the immigration bill that the government intends to vote in early 2023 in Parliament. In an interview with Le Figaro published on Tuesday, the Ministers of the Interior and Labor, Gérald Darmanin and Olivier Dussopt, presented the main lines of the text. Due to be presented to the Council of Ministers in January before being examined in the Senate and then in the National Assembly, it was the subject of numerous consultations at the end of the year.

“The government has proposed the creation of a residence permit for so-called shortage occupations. Valid for one year, it would concern any undocumented foreigner who has lived in France for at least three years, who can provide 8 pay slips over the last 24 months and who works well in a sector where there is a lack of manpower. INSEE (National Institut of Statistic and Economic Studies) published in November a list of 30 tense professions, which include activities related to the building, but also the professions of home assistant, butcher, plumber, and real estate agent,” explains RTL radio.

Today, under the Valls circular, undocumented migrants can already be regularized if they work, but their employer must agree to launch the process and it is the prefectures that have the last word. “With this new law, the worker in an irregular situation would no longer be subject to the goodwill of each other. The persons concerned must also have validated tests to verify their professional knowledge. Finally, the Regional Health Agency will have to give its consent,”- adds the radio.

This measure “will concern a few thousand people per year. So, we are not at all in massive regularization,” declared Olivier Dussopt, in response to fears of a “open call-in air” expressed by Les Républicains (LR) and by the National Rally (RN), the first group of opposition in the National Assembly where the government only has a relative majority.

A special residence permit for the doctors

According to La Croix, this bill provides for the creation of a residence permit for health professionals. They and their families could reside in France for one to four years, with the condition they have been recruited by a public or private non-profit health establishment.

This is a brand-new multi-year residence permit for health professionals. Called “Talent – medical and pharmacy professions”, it concerns doctors “whatever their specialty”, midwives, dental surgeons, and pharmacists, specifies the text. According to its article 7, this card is intended for health professionals and their families “as soon as they are recruited by a public or private non-profit health establishment”. The text provides for the issuance of the permit to be conditional on authorization from the regional health agency. Its period of validity, from one to four years, will depend on the validation by the practitioner of the "EVC" (Knowledge Verification Tests).

"This permit aims to meet the need to recruit qualified health personnel", because these foreign practitioners cannot always be hired at present, "for lack of a residence permit that fully meets the specificity of these situations", justifies the executive.

• The bill is currently being examined by the Council of State, for an opinion (requested on December 20, 2022). • mid-January 2023: presentation of the bill to the Council of Ministers • mid-January/February 2023: examination of the bill by the Senate (first reading) • March/April 2023: examination of the bill by the National Assembly (first reading).

Measures to facilitate evictions

But the creation of new residence permits is just a part of the bill, the "soft" one to be precise. “As indicated for several months, the bill aims above all to promote expulsions, through a “structural” reform of the right to asylum and litigation for foreigners”, explains Ouest France.

Article 9 aims to "facilitate the expulsion of foreigners who do not respect the values of the Republic and who commit offenses on national territory", and article 10 to "reduce the scope of protections against decisions" of OQTF in the event of acts committed “constituting a serious threat to public order, public security or State security”.

The government has reintroduced a measure of the separatism law initially censored by the Constitutional Council in 2021, according to Ouest France, to "make possible the refusal, withdrawal or non-renewal of certain residence permits" in the event of non-compliance with the “principles of the Republic”, like gender equality, freedom of sexual orientation, symbols of the Republic, or even “in the event of a serious threat to public order”, underlines the text.

The bill also restores the “double penalty”; the possibility of deporting foreigners sentenced of at least ten years in prison – five years in the event of a repeat offence. Subject to the assessment of the circumstances relating to the private and family life of the persons concerned and that their country of origin agrees to take them back. Thus, any person expelled because of an OQTF (Obligation to Leave French Territory) will not be able to apply for a visa for five years (article 18).

According to several French media, in general, "the government wants to simplify the types of procedures and reduce the time limits for challenges and judgments". To declare their opposition to the project and demand rights for undocumented migrants, a few thousand people demonstrated in Paris on Sunday. This march was organized on International Migrants Day, every December 18. The participants were behind the head banner proclaiming "Wherever we come from, wherever we were born, our country is called solidarity", with among them undocumented migrants and activists responding at the call of several collectives, aid associations or unions (CGT and Solidaires).

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