Foreigners in France: Fewer Opportunities for Employment

Claude Guéant, France’s Minister of Interior, has recently made it even harder for foreigners to get a job. France still welcomes many foreign students (with 280,000 France is third in the world) but the list of métiers for which foreigners can be hired has been reduced from 30 to 14, with local préfectures being able to reduce the list even further. This largely concerns students and other foreigners who do not already have the right to work in France and who are attempting to either get a work permit or change the status on their current residency card (from student to worker, for example).

The government is trying to reduce unemployment for French citizens by limiting the number of foreign workers. However, only 0.03% of the 65 million people in France are foreigners trying to get a work permit (20,000 people who make up only 10% of all legal immigration) and there are 4 million unemployed French citizens. It seems like the government should focus more on training French citizens so they are prepared for the jobs that are available, but now more money and resources will be diverted to immigration issues instead of Pôle Emploi.

I still receive lots of e-mails from non-EU citizens asking for advice on how to find work in France. I always say getting a degree in France is the best first step because almost all require an internship at the end which can lead to a job, or at least contacts in the field. If you haven’t done the internship in France, you’ll be at a disadvantage. But now it seems like even having a degree from a French university won’t help as much as it used to.

Diplômés étrangers non grata : Claude Guéant « fait du chiffre »

La liste des métiers ouverts aux étrangers réduite de moitié

Immigration de travail: la liste très select du gouvernement

France : les travailleurs étrangers indésirables

Grandes écoles : les jeunes diplômés étrangers interdits de travail

Finding a job in France is not impossible but with more and more anti-immigration laws popping up, it is getting even harder. That was part of the reason why I left France (and the low incomes – half of French households have an income of less than €19,000!) but I do know many people who have found jobs and obtained work permits, though I do have to admit many of them were also PACSed or married to a French or EU citizen.

I don’t want to sound overly pessimistic about France but with the current state of the economy and immigrants often being blamed for problems that they have nothing to do with, foreigners trying to work in France should be prepared for an uphill battle.

  • Gosh, this is embarrassing. Guéant nowadays is worse than Le Pen was in the 90’s and he is in power. I can’t wait for may 2012 so that we’re finally rid of those bozos who have been ruining France and France’s reputation for the past 5 years.

  • Amandinette

    Thanks for posting this! Next time I have someone ask me how to find work/ get a work visa in France, I’ll send them this link! And it is true, if you are linked to a French citizen either with a Pacs or marriage, it is much easier to function in the system, even beyond finding work.  Still, even with my husband being French, and myself being American, I believe that we will eventually move out of it because of these difficulties. I appreciate your candid articles about France; it’s not an easy country to live in at times!

  • TravellingAmber

    This is such a timely post. A good friend of mine is about to have to leave due to visa issues and it’s frustrating beyond belief. Some days I think I’ve got it easy because I’m married, but at the end of the day I’m still waiting on the verdict for my 10-yr CDS.. and time is quickly running out. Maybe we all ought to head to Australia.. seems like they appreciate a good, educated foreigner!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing Jennie. Discouraging for sure. But thanks for getting us the information we need!

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  • Mark

    Just leave that fucked up country. I am a non EU citizen with engineering and doctorate degree from top ecole with international work experience and I cannot even get an entry level job in France. That country is very racist and blame all their problems to foreigners. Now I work in Asia where the opportunities are abundant….. Enjoy your financial crisis and zero GDP growth!

  • Mark

    Young, educated and jobless seems to be the norm in France. I have many friends with masters or even doctoral degree (from university unfortunately) who has been unemployed for years or hopping between menial jobs while receiving unemployment benefits.

    Almost every single young French I know were jobless, I always encouraged them to get out of France but they were too spoiled by the benefit systems in France. Their only dream was to work 35 hours for life and secured by retirement benefits.

    The thing is that there are no jobs for young French, no matter how educated or knowledgeable you are. Except if you have a diploma from Grand école in Paris, you can hop from job to job easily and become a manager in a big company without experience !! (not the case for non-white foreigner though).

    To be entrepreneur is also very difficult in France due to very rigid tax and employment regulations. No single French I know has even an intention to become an entrepreneur.

    France is a decaying country. Run by ultra orthodox Enarque and their Grande Ecole elitist compatriots who were too busy solving problems to pass the concours and have no social nor human sensitivity of what really happen to French society. The Aging society, the restless and discriminated South African and Meghrebi Immigrants. They don’t realize that they live in a ticking bomb.
    I don’t think this country will be sustainable in the long run.

    My advice for young French is to leave, leave, leave, the world is bigger than you think….

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