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France: Draft Law on Immigration, Integration, and Nationality

(Apr. 19, 2010) On March 31, 2010, the French Immigration Minister presented a new draft law on immigration, integration, and nationality to the Council of Ministers. (Projet de loi relative à l'immigration, à l'intégration et à la nationalité, LEGIFRANCE,;jsessionid=09A7DF6
(last visited Apr. 12, 2010).)

If passed, the law would ensure the transposition into national law of three European Union directives that create the first global and harmonized legal framework for a European immigration policy:

The draft law will also take into account some of the conclusions of the governmental seminar on national identity of February 8, 2010, and proposals contained in a 2008 report on immigration policy prepared by a special commission that had been established by the government. (Projet de loi relative à l'immigration, à l'intégration et à la nationalité, supra.)

The draft law aims to better take into account immigrants' integration efforts at the time of the renewal of either their temporary or permanent residence cards. To that effect, the legislation further details the criteria to be used to evaluate how well the immigrants abide by the integration contract. In order to settle in France on a long-term basis, immigrants are required to sign an integration contract before being granted a temporary residence card and to attend civic education and, if necessary, language courses. (Id.)

The draft law provides for an accelerated access procedure for French citizenship for foreign nationals who have more rapidly integrated into French society. Although other access conditions for French citizenship would remain the same, if the draft law is adopted the length of the required stay in France would be reduced for candidates who made greater efforts to integrate. Foreign nationals requesting naturalization would be required to sign a charter on citizens' rights and duties. (Id.)

The draft law establishes the “European blue card,” which opens the right to work in any EU Member State to highly qualified workers from non-EU countries. (Id.)

Finally, the draft law reinforces the fight against illegal immigration. It would reform the procedures for expelling illegal immigrants, to render those procedures more efficient. The maximum administrative detention period would be increased from 32 to 45 days, giving French authorities more time to obtain the proper documents from the consulates of the countries of origin of the illegal immigrants, in order to return those immigrants. In addition, special transit zones could be established wherever undocumented immigrants are discovered. Under the current legislation, transit zones are located in airports, seaports, and railway stations open to international traffic. Under the draft law, expelled immigrants can be prohibited from re-entering France and other EU Member States for up to five years. The proposed legislation also provides for more stringent penalties for employers who hire illegal workers. (Id.)