Nicolas Sarkozy, as Ministre d’Etat, Minister of the Interior and Town and Country Planning between 2002 and 2007, and as President of the French Republic since May 2007, presented several bills on immigration and integration.
Since 2002, controlling immigration has again become an essential government priority. The Act of 26 November 2003 was the first phase in the immigration policy reform. However, today immigration continues to be totally out of step with France’s ability to cope with immigrants and her economic needs. So the bill, in line with the guidelines the Prime Minister set at the 10 June and 29 November 2005 meetings of the interministerial Immigration Control Committee, creates new legal instruments in order to regulate immigration more effectively, control the misuse of procedure and promote targeted immigration and successful integration.
— 1. The first section of the Bill groups together the provisions promoting targeted immigration.
A long-stay visa will be required in order to obtain a temporary residence permit, apart from a few exceptions. Migrants admitted for the first time to France who wish to stay here will have to sign a "reception and integration contract": foreigners will receive tuition in civics and the French language. Before obtaining a 10-year residence permit, foreigners will have to satisfy the following three integration conditions: commit personally to abide by the principles governing the French Republic, demonstrate that they are indeed complying with them, and have an adequate knowledge of the French language.
In the case of foreign students, the issue and renewal of residence papers will be facilitated when their proposed study programmes have been approved in their countries of origin prior to their departure. Young foreign students who get a master’s degree in our country will be able complete their training by taking up a first post in France with a view to their subsequent return to their countries of origin.
The rule requiring a prospective foreign worker to obtain authorization from the relevant local labour department in France will be made more flexible for jobs and geographical areas suffering recruitment difficulties.
The creation of a three-year "skills and talents" residence permit will simplify entry formalities for foreigners who will be assets for the development and influence of France.
The Bill also transposes European directives simplifying the conditions for other Europeans to reside in France and setting the conditions for the mobility in Europe of foreigners with resident status in the EU.
— 2. Section II concerns immigration for personal or family reasons.
It lays down the conditions for the issue of temporary "private and family life" residence permits. The provision allowing the automatic issue of a residence permit to a foreigner who has been illegally in France for ten years is abolished.
There will be a clearer definition of the conditions for the issue of a residence permit for personal and/or family reasons, in line with the principles of the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. In order to combat marriages of convenience, a 10-year residence permit will be granted to the spouse of a French national only after three years of marriage instead of two, and only if the spouse manifests his/her integration into French society and demonstrates inter alia adequate knowledge of the French language.
Foreigners will be able to ask for their families to join them only after they have been legally in France for 18 months and no longer after one year. Their income, at least equal to the SMIC [minimum wage], must come from their work and not from benefits. They will also have to prove that they are abiding by the principles governing the French Republic.
— 3. Section III combines in a single decision (rejection of a residence permit combined with the obligation to leave French territory and designation of the country to which the rejected immigrant is to return) two previously separate decisions (rejection of application to remain and order requiring a foreigner to be escorted to the border).
— 4. In order to combat marriages of convenience, section IV increases the minimum length of conjugal life necessary before spouses of French nationals become eligible to acquire French nationality by declaration from two to four years, and to five years if they have not lived in France for three years.
— 5. Section V concerns asylum. The possibility of drawing up a national list of safe countries of origin is retained and the status of the reception centres for asylum seekers is more clearly defined in order to prevent them being occupied by people no longer eligible to apply for asylum.
— 6. Section VI provides in Guadeloupe, French Guiana and Mayotte for measures tailored to their specific situations: facilitation of identity checks, destruction of small boats used by smugglers of illegals and action to fight paternity recognition fraud in Mayotte.
Since Nicolas Sarkozy was elected president in 2007, immigration policy has been carried out by the Ministry of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Co-Development. Its duties are to control migration, encourage co-development, further integration and promote the French identity.
A law of 20 November 2007 on immigration control, integration and asylum aims to fight illegal immigration, limit entry and residence requirements in France, control family immigration and encourage immigration for professional reasons. As regards family immigration, the law added four principles to the existing system: - The future immigrant must have a certain level of income, which will be laid down by law, to be considered eligible for family reunification. - He must pass a test on the French language level and values of the Republic, or if not, have had enough training to be able to join his or her family in France. - He must ensure the integration of his or her children under the “Reception and Integration Contract for Families”. - He must undergo genetic testing (DNA test) for citizens of countries where there are serious doubts as to whether birth and marriage certificates are authentic, for foreign applicants for family reunification, on a trial basis for 18 months.
France was the first EU member state to relocate migrants who arrived in Malta by boat. In 2009, France took 94 migrants mainly from Somalia, Erythrea and Iraq thus expressing solidarity with the Maltese authorities.
The French gouvernment pledged to take more migrants provided other EU members joined France in helping Malta. Following the effective pledges of other EU partners, France has announced that it will take 100 migrants more from Malta thus making it the 1st EU partner in terms of number of migrants relocated.