France will limitedly allow immigrants from non-EU countries based on regional demands and professional fields from next year.
According to the Agence France-Presse (AFP) and The Wall Street Journal, French Labor Minister Muriel Pénicaud announced on Tuesday that such an immigrant quota system would be introduced by next summer. The labor minister also added that the ministry would collect statistical data regarding regional demands for skilled workers in specific occupational categories or with certain credentials, as well as professional fields to which quotas would be applied.
The French government will grant visas mainly to potential immigrants who have the skills needed by region according to such quotas. Employers, labor unions, and local governments should conduct annual assessments to ensure that the numbers of immigrant workers do not exceed the upper limits. The AFP also reported that policy to limit immigrants bringing their family members is under review. However, specific figures for quotas and whether or not immigrants’ nationalities will be considered were not revealed on Tuesday.
The new policy to be introduced is targeted for the 2022 presidential election as a political choice to secure conservative voters who believe that the government’s immigration policy is too generous while protecting the country’s own workers and lowering the unemployment rate that is currently over eight percent. France saw 122,743 asylum seekers last year, which is 22 percent higher than the previous year. The conservatives are also increasingly criticizing the country’s generous health care system, which provides health care benefits to those who have lived in the country for three months or longer.
The introduction of the quota system is not expected to have immediate impact on France’s unemployment rate or labor force structure. However, it is garnering attention whether the country’s new policy will affect other European countries. Currently, some European countries, including Austria and Ireland, have in place an immigration quota system based on occupational types or professions, which Canada and Australia have introduced. Germany, 20 percent of whose 82.43 million populations are immigrants from Turkey and Poland, is also faced with voices arguing for immigration restrictions.
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