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France Immigration: 2023 Recap, Trends & Statistics


Clarisse Delaitre


February 07, 2024


08:21 AM

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On 25 January 2024, the General Directorate for Foreigners in France (DGEF) of the Ministry of the Interior published provisional statistics on immigration in 2023. This contains information and key statistics about the issuance of French visas, residence permits, and naturalisations. The final figures are due to be published in June 2024.

What do these figures tell us about so-called "economic" immigration, which brings together a variety of profiles of foreign workers (from outside the EU), employees (whose stay is conditional on obtaining a work permit and those who are exempt), entrepreneurs, investors, artists, employees seconded to France, "talents" (those eligible for the "Talent Passport" categories)? What are the main trends over the past year? Which nationalities are most represented?

Visas for France

In 2023, according to provisional figures, France issued 2.4 million visas compared with 1.7 million in 2022, an increase of 40.4%.

The overwhelming majority of these 2.4 million visas were short-stay visas, with only 9.9% being long-stay visas (for stays of between 90 days and one year).

Long-stay visas issued for economic reasons are up slightly (+2.2%) compared with 2022: 56,638 visas will be issued for economic reasons, of which:

  • 28,691 visas for "salaried workers" (+3.9% compared to 2022)
  • 19,276 visas for "seasonal" or "temporary" employment (-6.3% compared to 2022)
  • 4,632 visas for 'scientific/skills and talent' (+11.9% compared to 2022)
  • 2,954 visas for "self-employed" (+31.7% compared to 2022);
  • And 1,083 visas for "artists" (+28% compared with 2022).

The number of long-stay "talent passport" visas issued has risen steadily year on year (+6.4%), boosted by the attractiveness of the "talent passport" visas issued to holders' family members (+11.9%). While the reason for issuing "employee" visas is declining (-10.1%), the reasons for issuing "artist", "self-employed" and "scientist" visas are rising significantly (+30.2% for the "artist" reason in particular!).

In 2023, the highest number of visas issued in France is for Chinese nationals, with this meteoric rise (+271.1%!!) probably due to the effect of the reopening of borders post-Covid. Next came Moroccan, Indian, Algerian and Turkish nationals. There was a sharp rise in the number of visas issued to Russian nationals (+69.4%).

French Visas issued in 2023 based on Nationality:

  1. Chinese: 371 224
  2. Moroccan: 241,571
  3. Indian: 213,500
  4. Algerian: 209,723
  5. Turkish: 130,851

Residence Permits in France

Overall, the number of first residence permits issued in 2023 is slightly up by 1.4% compared with 2022. These first permits - 323,260 - correspond to permits held by foreign nationals who have reached the age of majority following an initial application for a residence permit.

Estimates to date show a strong presence of foreign students, who account for 1/3 of permits issued, far ahead of permits issued on humanitarian and economic grounds.

To date, 54,630 residence permits have been issued for economic reasons in 2023, a slight increase on last year (+5.5%).

In terms of numbers, the "employee" residence permit remains the most common (39,020 permits issued). There has been a surprising increase in the number of permits issued to artists (+47.9% on last year).

Talent Passports (with a more favourable duration of 4 years, unlike the other permits), are up very slightly (+0.9%) and were issued for the first time to 12,790 people in 2023.

North African nationals are still by far the most numerous among the new holders of residence permits in France in 2023. The list of the main nationalities receiving residence permits in France is stable from year to year, with a notable increase in the number of Chinese nationals (over 30%) and Senegalese and Turkish nationals (around 15 to 20%) in 2023.

French Immigration Outlook for 2024

Against this backdrop, what will be the impact of the "Immigration Law" enacted on 26 January 2024?

Given the measures contained in the Immigration Act finally published in the Journal Officiel on 27 January 2024 (after a major censure by the Conseil Constitutionnel), it will be interesting to analyse the impact of the Act on immigration figures in a year's time.

We can expect the first residence permits to be issued to undocumented workers in jobs in short supply (construction, home help, catering), who will be able to obtain a "temporary worker" or "employee" residence permit on an exceptional basis.

The figures for visas and residence permits in the "talent passport" category should also change, due to the impact of (i) the creation of a new multi-annual "talent - medical and pharmacy profession" residence permit for doctors, dentists, midwives and pharmacists with qualifications from outside the European Union (PADHUE) and (ii) the simplification of "talent" permits for qualified employees and project leaders.

Clarisse is a french lawyer specialized in employment law, international mobility and professional immigration. She assists companies in all their issues relating to the hiring of foreign employees, relocation of employees overseas, and the use of foreign subcontractors in France.

👉 Contact Clarisse today!

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