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French Government announces tougher measures on immigration and integration

French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe unveiled twenty measures on immigration and integration last November 6th 2019. While some provisions reaffirm the Government’s objective to facilitate the access of refugees to employment and long-term housing, most aim at making France a less attractive place for migrants as the country is experiencing a steady rise in asylum applications.

While most provisions announced by the Government concern undocumented migrants as well as asylum seekers, restricting in particular their access to basic healthcare services - some of them will also impact the integration perspectives of beneficiaries of international protection.

First, the Prime Minister declared that the conditions to access the Active Solidarity Income (RSA), a welfare benefit, will be restricted.

So far, beneficiaries of international protection could receive the minimum income allowance retroactively from the date they requested it. That meant that people granted protection could receive, after recognition, some complementary welfare income, in addition to their asylum seeker allowance, covering the time of their asylum application. With this new measure, refugees will be allowed to claim and receive the RSA only once their international protection will have been granted. The implementing decree should be published by the end of the year.

Secondly, language requirements for acquiring French citizenship will be more demanding.

Up to now, in order to apply for French nationality, third-country nationals –including beneficiaries of international protection - needed to demonstrate a spoken proficiency in French corresponding to level “B1” of the Common European Framework of References for languages. From April 2020, all applicants will also have to pass a test to assess their written skills at the same level. Despite those restrictive measures, the Government also reiterated the need to facilitate the access of refugees to long-term housing, by setting a national objective to find 16 000 housing units for refugees by the end of 2020. The need to promote a better labour market integration, in particular of migrant women, has also been recalled – but no details were given on the resources that would be dedicated to reach this goal.

France Terre d’Asile