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France’s new migration law

In September 2018 a new immigration law “Loi Collomb” was adopted. The law will enter fully into force by 1 March 2019. Here is an overview of the main changes brought by the law.

  • Shortened deadlines for filing and processing asylum applications

Reducing the average processing time for asylum applications from eleven to six months is an objective of the law. To reach it, the text reduces various delays in the administrative procedure. The migrant only has 90 days (60 days in French Guiana), instead of the 120 days fixed by the law of 29 July 2015 on the reform of the right to asylum, to submit his or her asylum application once arrived in France. After this period, the situation of the applicant is examined in accelerated procedure, a derogatory procedure whose deadlines are tighter. This procedure takes place with a single judge and does not open an automatic right to accommodation and an allowance. The time limit for appealing to the National Asylum Court (CNDA) against the decisions of the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA), which hears applications for asylum at first instance, is maintained for one month. However, applications for judicial assistance must be lodged within 15 days after notification of the OFPRA's decision.

  • Hardening of removal measures, lengthening of administrative detention

Removal constitutes, as part of the fight against irregular immigration, another major axis of the reform. The law aims to secure the obligations to leave French territory [obligations de quitter le territoire français] (OQTF) after the rejection of an asylum application and increases control over the persons targeted by an OQTF. The duration of the detention, that aims to allow the administration to organize the removal of a foreigner, is doubled from 45 days to 90 days. The text intends to make house arrest, rather than detention, the usual procedure after an OQTF. At the same time, it reduces the period of voluntary departure from thirty to seven days.

The law of 10 September 2018 also gives the authorities the possibility to refuse refugee status or to terminate it in case of conviction for serious crimes in another EU country. It also makes it possible to place under house arrest or to detain asylum seekers who pose a threat to public order.

  • Welcoming talents and skills, improving the right to stay of vulnerable people

The text carries the project of a chosen immigration that attracts the most educated. The talent passport is extended to "employees of innovative companies" as well as to anyone "likely to participate in the influence of France". It promotes the mobility of students and researchers between their country of origin and France. The law extends the multi-year residence permit (4 years) "passport talent" set up by the law of 7 March 2016. It is now issued in particular to the family members (spouse and children) of the cardholder who does not have to go through the procedure of family reunification anymore. The long-stay visa is however required for the first issue of these cards. Transposing a directive of May 2016, the law creates new temporary residence permits for certain categories of students and researchers (i.e.: job search card or business creation, student residence card, au pair card).

The law includes provisions to improve the situation of victims of domestic or family violence. In case of definitive conviction of the spouse or cohabiting/ civil partner for violence, the foreigner holding a temporary residence card for private and family life is automatically granted a residence card. Similarly, trafficked persons who have lodged a complaint or testified against the perpetrators of procuring or human trafficking offenses will be able to benefit from a residency card after five years of presence in France. Beneficiaries of subsidiary protection and stateless persons are granted a four-year multi-year residence permit and no longer a title of one year renewable for periods of two years. Unaccompanied minor children who had been granted protection could already apply for "family reunification" by bringing their parents. The law extends this possibility to brothers and sisters.

  • The special case of Mayotte

In Mayotte a derogation is made to the principle of jus soli: a child born of foreign parents will not be able to acquire French citizenship by his majority on the express condition that one of his parents resided in France in a regular and uninterrupted way during more than three months before birth. Moreover, a visa is made obligatory for the foreign minors residing regularly in Mayotte and wishing to be admitted on the metropolitan territory. This visa was previously mandatory for adults only.

This law leads to the modification of the French Code of entry and residence of foreigners and asylum.

Author: Dr Fanny Tittel-Mosser

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