France's Immigration law: what real impacts on professional mobility?

5 month ago
France's Immigration law: what real impacts on professional mobility?

Announced by the Minister of the Interior in August 2022, the new Immigration Law was published in the Official Journal on January 27, 2024. Initially conceived by the Government as a compromise aimed at improving integration and controlling immigration, this text underwent hardening during Parliamentary work before being significantly censored both in form and substance by the Constitutional Council.

Although the new law contains a number of provisions aimed at improving the integration of foreigners in France and reinforcing checks on the legality of their presence on French soil, it does not radically alter the legal framework applicable to people in a situation of professional mobility.

 

Foreigners working in France

 

The law aims to promote work as a factor of integration and introduces a temporary residence permit "Temporary Worker" or "Employee" for undocumented workers in short-staffed jobs, the list of which will be updated at least once a year (arts. 27 and 28). To benefit from this scheme (currently experimental and applicable until December 31, 2026), they must demonstrate having worked for at least 12 months (consecutively or not) in the last 24 months, resided in France for 3 years, and their integration. It should be noted that the prefect will have discretionary power to give approval; therefore, applications will be examined on a case-by-case basis.

The "Talent Passport" scheme has been renamed "Talent" (art. 30).

The status of "Talent Passport – Qualified Employee / Innovative Company" is now titled "Talent – Qualified Employee" and now includes individuals coming to France under intra-group assignments carried out under a French employment contract (formerly "Talent Passport – Employee on Assignment") (art. 30).

The law creates a multi-year residence permit with the mention "Talent-project creator" for individuals in the following situations:

  • Justifying a real and serious economic project and creating a business in France (subject to having a diploma equivalent to a master's degree or being able to demonstrate at least five years of professional experience at a comparable level);
  • Justifying an innovative economic project recognized by a public body;
  • Engaging in direct economic investment in France.

 

To address the shortage in the medical sector, the law creates a new status "Talent-medical and pharmacy profession" (art. 31) allowing a foreigner holding authorization to practice the medical profession in France to apply for a resident permit for a maximum duration of 4 years. The applicant must sign the charter of the values of the Republic and the principle of secularism.

The status of individual entrepreneur is now restricted to holders of residence permits authorizing the exercise of professional activity under this status (art. 29).

 

Tougher sanctions

 

The text also provides for tougher sanctions against companies employing foreign workers illegally. In this regard:

The special contribution due to the OFII is replaced by an administrative fine cumulative with a criminal penalty for employing a foreigner not authorized to work. Its amount is at most equal to 5,000 times the hourly rate of the guaranteed minimum wage (€20,750 in 2024) and 15,000 times this rate in case of repetition (€62,250 in 2024). It is applied as many times as there are foreign workers concerned (art 34).

The law amends Article L8256-2 of the Labor Code providing for a penalty for hiring, retaining in employment, or employing (directly or indirectly and for any duration whatsoever) a foreigner not holding a permit authorizing him to work in France. It is hereafter applicable when the foreigner is employed in a professional category, a profession, or a geographical area other than those mentioned on his work permit. The amount of the fine is €30,000 for a private employer (natural person), €150,000 for a company, and up to €200,000 when the offense is committed by an organized group. These amounts are associated with imprisonment sentences ranging from 5 to 10 years (art. 34).

Lastly, the legislator provides for the possibility of refusing to issue a long-stay visa to a national of a country that is not cooperating sufficiently in the readmission of its nationals in an irregular situation, or that does not respect a bilateral or multilateral agreement on the management of migratory flows (art.47), which echoes the recent situation with Morocco and Tunisia in 2021-2022.

 

Integration of Foreigners

 

The law strengthens the obligation to master the French language (art. 20): an A2 level certificate will be required when applying for the renewal of a multi-year residence permit. This measure does not apply to foreigners exempted from signing the CIR (Republican Integration Contract).

The issuance of the permanent resident card will be subject to the production of a B1 level certificate, while access to French nationality will be possible provided that the language level is at least equivalent to level B2.

The text imposes an obligation to subscribe to an engagement contract to respect the principles of the French Republic when applying for a residence permit. In case of non-compliance with the terms of the contract, the administration reserves the right to withdraw the residence permit (art. 46).

The refusal to renew a residence permit is also provided for in the event of disturbance to public order, or if a foreigner is unable to prove his habitual residence in France – however, this measure does not apply to holders of the Talent category, nor to posted employees whose permit is not renewable.

Employers are also encouraged to offer French language training to their non French-speaking employees (art. 23).

 

However, the law does not include several measures discussed by Parliament but censured by the Constitutional Council, including:

  • The introduction of annual debates in Parliament on immigration quotas;
  • Restrictions on access to residency for sick foreigners;
  • Making certain social benefits conditional on five years' legal residence (30 months if the foreigner is working; 3 months for APL);
  • Tougher conditions for access to French nationality: longer period of residence required to obtain nationality (five to ten years for general cases, four to five years for applications for naturalization by marriage);
  • Tougher conditions for family reunification (24 months' presence, income requirements, health insurance and mastery of the French language);
  • A "return security deposit" for foreign students;
  • Reinstatement of the offense of illegal residence (fine of 3,750 euros and three-year ban from France);
  • The automatic issuance of a long-stay visa to Britons with a second home in France.

 

Our immigration team stands at your disposal to answer any questions you may have about the new immigration law.

 

Sources 

https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/jorf/id/JORFTEXT000049040245

https://www.vie-publique.fr/loi/287993-loi-immigration-integration-asile-du-26-janvier-2024

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