Scoring 56 on the MIPEX 100-point scale, France’s integration policies go halfway to promote societal integration. Non-EU newcomers to France enjoy more opportunities than obstacles to integration and these opportunities have improved since 2015. As a result, France’s integration policies are comparable to other major Western European/OECD countries.
However, France’ approach to integration is classified by MIPEX as “Temporary Integration”, like Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. While non-EU citizens can benefit from basic rights and some support for equal opportunities, but not the long-term security they need to settle permanently, invest in integration and participate as full citizens. France’s ‘temporary Integration’ approach encourages the French public to see immigrants as their equals, but also as foreigners. Internationally, the ‘Top Ten’ MIPEX countries treat immigrants as equals, neighbours and potential citizens, and invest in integration as a two-way process for society.
A country’s integration policies matter because the way that governments treat immigrants strongly influences how well immigrants and the public interact and think of each other. Drawing on 130 independent scientific studies using MIPEX, integration policies emerge as one of the strongest factors shaping not only the public’s willingness to accept and interact with immigrants, but also immigrants’ own attitudes, belonging, participation and even health in their new home country.
- Labour market mobility: Halfway favourable: Slightly below average, France delays and discourages the labour market mobility of non-EU immigrants more than most Western European/OECD countries. While permanent residents and reuniting non-EU families can access the labour market, but are denied legal access to more regulated professions than in all other countries. Non-EU newcomers can access general employment services, training, and skill validations, but many cannot access procedures, study grants or a formal recognition of their non-EU degree. MIPEX analyses suggest that weak labour market mobility policies like France’s can undermine immigrant men and women’s access to training, education and quality employment.
- Family reunification: Halfway favourable: Separated non-EU families still face more restrictive and discretionary requirements to reunite in France than in most Western European/OECD countries. The economic and accommodation requirements are demanding, while the process can be discretionary and potentially long. Once reunited, families can benefit from France’s support for integration and gender by granting spouses and children the equal socio-economic rights and a path to independent residence. Since 2016, France has removed its ineffective pre-departure language and integration requirements. From March 2019, reunited family members can also benefit from better post-arrival integration support, as the language hours offered to all newcomers have increased from 200 to maximum 400 hours and 600 hours for illiterate people.
- Education: Slightly Unfavourable: Slightly below average for Western European/OECD countries, France has been slow to respond to the needs and opportunities brought by its sizeable number of 1st and 2nd generation pupils. All pupils, whatever their legal status is, have an equal right to compulsory and non-compulsory education and to general support for pupils from disadvantaged areas in France. The appreciation of diversity is missing from citizenship education. France’s relatively weak targeted support has slightly improved over the past decade. Since 2015, more targeted programmes have helped migrants and refugees access higher education. Studies comparing MIPEX to education outcomes suggest that weak targeted education policies like France’s may explain not only why achievement gaps persist for vulnerable learners, but also why not all students feel safe and at home in their school.
- Health: Slightly favourable: Similar to most Western European countries, France makes health services inclusive and accessible, but does relatively little to address migrant patients’ specific health needs. Under France’s inclusive health system, most immigrant patients can access healthcare entitlements, information and orientation to the appropriate health services, enjoying same rights legal residents and citizens in France. While targeted research on migrant health is improving, a more comprehensive national policy could better inform and support all health services on these needs.
- Political participation: Halfway favourable: Most other established destination countries like France tend to facilitate both access to nationality and political rights for foreign residents. Slightly below average for Western Europe, newcomers and foreign citizens in France are not regularly informed and consulted by authorities in order to effectively access their political rights and contribute to public life. France is also one of the few major destination countries without the political will to extend local voting rights. Traditionally, immigrant associations have been supported and sometimes consulted by the local authorities most active on integration. Since 2018, more refugee groups are being consulted at national level, thanks to the Inter-ministerial Delegation for the Reception and Integration of Refugees.
- Permanent residence: Halfway favourable: After 3-5 years, eligible temporary residents must be able to meet highly restrictive language, integration and – in some cases - economic requirements in order to benefit from the secure 10-year status and near-equal socio-economic rights. While this status is more equal and secure than in most other countries, the requirements are some of the most restrictive.
- Access to nationality: Slightly favourable: Immigrants undertake a similar path to citizenship in FR as in the US and most Western European countries: naturalisation after five years, citizenship entitlements for children and dual nationality. MIPEX analyses find that nationality policies are the strongest factor driving naturalisation rates and can also boost some immigrants’ acceptance, socio-economic status, political participation, sense of belonging and trust. But in France, over the past decade, access to nationality has been increasingly politicised and undermined as a tool for integration. Compared to other countries, France’s discretionary procedure does not treat all applicants the same or encourage them to apply, while its comparatively demanding requirements do not provide all with enough support to succeed. For example, becoming a French citizen is conditional upon a person’s employment/financial situation. Immigrants must also demonstrate one of the highest standards for fluency in Europe (B1) and pass a discretionary 'assimilation interview'.
- Anti-discrimination: Sllightly favourable: French laws and policies to promote equality remain the country’s greatest strength for integration. Anti-discrimination policies are also a major area of strength across Western Europe and in traditional destination countries. France's rather strong anti-discrimination law and body (Défenseur des Droits/Ombudsman) are helping the general public to learn about their rights and potential victims to seek justice. Strong anti-discrimination policies like France’s appear to have had long-term impacts across Europe on reshaping public attitudes, discrimination awareness, reporting and trust in institutions, society and democracy.