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.
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.