Tendencies published by the Ministry of the Interior in January are confirmed: after having come to a halt in 2020 due to the Covid 19 epidemic, immigration to France continued to increase in 2022. Enough to give arguments to the Republicans (LR), in the midst of a frontal battle with the government on immigration bill whose fate is more uncertain than ever. The outline of the text must be decided before the summer break with, a priori, a new project presented to the Council of Ministers and parliamentary debates scheduled for the fall. The path of page promises to be more than narrow for the government, both the positions of the majority and LR are distant .
France issued 316,174 residence permits last year, up 11.8%. For the first time, residence permits issued to students (101,250, up 14.3%) are the primary reason for issuance, ahead of family reasons (95,507, +2.5%), economic immigration (51,673 , +40.9%) and humanitarian (40,549, -3.4%). Nationals of the three main Maghreb countries – Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia – are still those who benefit from the largest number of residence permits, with a total of 90,058, or 28.5% of the total.
Increase in exceptional admissions
The most scrutinized data concerns what Place Beauvau calls exceptional admission to stay (AES), allowing immigrants in an irregular situation to be issued a residence permit for family or economic reasons. Their number rose to 34,320 in 2022, an increase of 8.8% compared to 2021 and to a level higher than that of 2019 (30,619). Two-thirds of these AES have a family motive and are showing a very slight increase, while the remaining third is for economic motives and is experiencing a much more dynamic evolution (+24.7%).
Issued by the prefects, these AES are governed by the Valls circular of November 2012. The executive wants to include the provisions of this circular in the immigration law, with the creation of the so-called residence permit “jobs in tension” . Cornerstone of the bill, this provision crystallizes the opposition of the right and the far right who do not want to hear about it on the grounds that it would create a migratory “draught of air”.
A few thousand titles
Staying within the same scope as that of the Valls circular, the “shortage occupations” provision concerns only a few thousand residence permits. However, it is causing a lot of ink to flow and deeply divides the political field. The majority does not intend to return to the subject, even if it declares itself ready to discuss the modalities. “It is out of the question to go back to the trades in tension because in the immigration text we want to go very far in both directions, that is to say better integrate and better deport”, confirms a Renaissance deputy.
The right and the extreme right camp on a very firm line. The discussions between the majority and LR on the immigration bill are “at a standstill”, declared to the “Figaro” Olivier Marleix, the boss of the LR deputies. “We are not going to fall into haggling,” he added. The issue of “shortage occupations” residence permits also divides employers : if the largest companies are rather favorable to it, the small ones are less so.