Mark A Ivener, A Law Corporation

Global Immigration: France


The Ministry of Interior has instructed labor agencies to apply regulations in a restrictive manner and to apply greater scrutiny to applications in order to reduce the number of foreigners legally working in France.

A circular issued May 31, 2011, by France’s Ministry of Interior instructs labor authorities that issue work permits to apply the regulations in a restrictive manner and to apply greater scrutiny to applications to reduce the number of foreigners legally working in France. Intracompany transfers and secondment categories are not affected. However, processing times may increase for all categories.

The government previously made public statements of its restrictive policy, including immigration on professional grounds. In its May 31 circular, the Ministry of Interior has now taken concrete action. The circular provides detailed instructions for the labor authorities to implement the regulations more strictly and deepen their scrutiny of work permit applications.

Greater Scrutiny of Employers

The labor authorities are to deepen their scrutiny to verify the existence of the employer and its past and present compliance with labor, social security, and immigration regulations. Any violations may be sufficient grounds to deny a work permit application.

Greater Scrutiny of the Employment Offered

Labor market tests are to be applied strictly and an application is to be denied if market analysis reveals insufficiently high unemployment for the position sought to be filled or the possibility of filling the position by offering a training program in the near future. Any advertisement seeking candidates for a position must be displayed for a reasonable period of time. The Ministry of Interior now asks the labor authorities to consider “two or three months” as being reasonable, whereas in the past the labor authorities considered two or three weeks as reasonable.

Further, the labor authorities are being asked to evaluate whether the foreign worker is under- or overqualified for the employment offered. If he or she is underqualified, the application must be denied. If he or she is overqualified, the advertisement must be modified and published again. The authorities are being asked to verify that:

  • the compensation meets the appropriate thresholds, as determined by the collective bargaining agreements, market, and minimum compensation laws;
  • the candidate has adequate knowledge of the French language;
  • the candidate is being provided adequate housing.

Greater Scrutiny of Change-of-Status Applications

The labor authorities are being urged to examine any change-of-status application very carefully, especially when such applications are made by foreign students. The circular states that the foreign student is supposed to return to his or her home country after the end of schooling. The circular seems to reverse the trend set earlier by the government favoring change-of-status applications made by foreign students who had earned a master’s degree and sought employment in France in line with their qualifications.

Intracompany Transfers and Secondments Not Included

These restrictive measures are not being applied to work permit categories that receive preferential processing, such as intracompany transfers, secondments, and seasonal workers.

Increase in Processing Time

Because stricter scrutiny takes time, processing times may increase, including with respect to the preferred categories, such as intracompany transfers, secondments, and seasonal workers.

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About the Author

Mark A. Ivener, A Law Corporation, a nationally recognized law firm, has successfully assisted hundreds of clients in immigration matters.

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