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French government releases priorities for 2022 regarding integration policy for newly arrived foreigners, including refugees

In an instruction issued on January 25 2022, the Minister of the Interior communicated to regions' and departments' Prefects the main guidelines regarding the integration policy for newly arrived foreigners, including beneficiaries of international protection (BIPs), for the year 2022.

The instruction states that integration through employment constitutes an absolute priority. Public employment services are asked to provide offers adapted to BIPs, by putting them in contact with employers, by supporting them in the recognition of their diplomas and qualifications, and by offering them professional training. Special focus is given to newly arrived women, who face increased difficulties regarding professional integration with an unemployment rate of 30%, as well as BIPs suffering from specific vulnerabilities (particularly psycho-traumas, difficulties in accessing housing, and greater distance from both the French language and the job market). The implementation of the AGIR platforms (a global and individualized support program) in 27 French departments throughout 2022 will enable BIPs, whether or not they are in targeted housings, to benefit from support in accessing employment and sustainable housing.

Prefects are also asked to support actions aiming at strengthening interactions between foreigners and the host society, such as the Volont'R program (a civic service with and for refugees) or mentoring schemes like the citizen sponsorship platform for refugees, implemented by the inter-ministerial delegation for the reception and integration of refugees (DIAIR) and the directorate-general for foreign nationals in France (DGEF).

Finally, Prefects are expected to offer French language courses, mostly aiming at professional integration. In addition, the Minister of the Interior called for the development of platforms, to ensure that the supply of and demand for language training is matched, as well as child care solutions, to allow women to have enough time to attend language courses.

In order to guarantee the success of this integration policy, the instruction asked Prefects to build strong partnerships with local authorities, which have key skills to facilitate the integration of foreigners present in their territory. The instruction also requires a strong involvement of the prefectural body and the establishment of inclusive governance facilitating the coordination of all actors involved in the integration of foreigners. To this end, a member of the prefectural body is to be systematically designated as “integration referent” and a body for coordinating and monitoring the integration policy for refugees and other newly arrived foreigners should be convened on a regular basis.