France: Papers required to prove French language ability
Immigration rules tighten, again
France is tightening its immigration rules, demanding all would-be citizens provide written proof that they can speak enough French to manage their daily lives. The announcement was made in the government's official gazette in October.
Previously, candidates had their language skills tested in interviews with government officials. From January 2012, they will have to "produce a diploma or certificate delivered by a state-recognised organism."France grants citizenship to around 100,000 people each year. According to the French daily Les Echos, around one million foreigners living in France do not speak French. It said the government is spending 60 million euros to promote French-language skills amid growing concern over the issue.
Meanwhile, the French government has been forced to soften its stance on limiting work visas for college graduates after criticism from students and universities. A memo dated 31st May and issued by the ministries of Interior and Labor encouraged immigration offices to apply existing regulations "rigorously" to limit legal immigration. "Priority should be given to the professional insertion of job seekers already present on our territory, both of French and foreign nationalities, residing legally in France," the memo read.
Higher Education Minister Laurent Wauquiez said that there is no "policy of closing off entry to France," adding it is not the policy in place which is flawed, but the way it is being applied. He said the country's doors "must remain open" to international students, but he wanted to encourage student exchanges between universities, rather than individuals coming to France to study. Interior Minister Claude Guéant told Le point, "We are now going to bring pragmatic solutions case by case."He also said that in most cases non-European students came to France to study, not to enter the job market, "Their main goal should be to return home so as to enable their country to benefit from their skills."