France: Visa rules for foreign graduate students with a job offer redefined


French government takes step back on strict student employment rules.

Today in France, a non-European student who gets a job or a job offer, 'prior to the issuance of a degree', must be granted a residence permit. This is one of the main measures of the new memo released by the French Ministry of the Interior, Claude Gueant, which redefines the terms of employment of foreign students.

The government has finally yielded to the pressure of months of student protests, backed by several French celebrities, and protests by presidents of universities, grandes écoles and engineering schools, dismayed at the thought of not being able to attract to France the elite of tomorrow.

"Another France has decided to be heard," wrote Le Monde,  commenting on the series of sponsorships launched by "Collectif du 31 mai" (Collective of May 31) and organizers of the call for a "universal university" (30,000 signatures). In the presence of intellectuals and university presidents, everyone has "adopted" a godson, hoping to help foreign talents immediately regain the right to work.

After meeting with the Conference of heads of universities, grandes écoles and employers, French authorities have agreed to modify the rules.

The new rules, laid out last Thursday, partially restore the provisions introduced by a 2006 Law, challenged by a ministerial memo last May, which put stricter rules in place, making France become less attractive to international students.

Non-European holders of at least a French master’s degree or equivalent will now have six months after graduation to find a “first work experience” and apply for working papers.

All expulsion procedures against applicants whose papers were rejected under those rules are to be suspended while French prefects have been instructed to re-examine applications filed while the stricter rules where in place.

To 'facilitate the file review', the memo allows graduates to submit a certificate issued jointly by the director or the president of the institution of higher education and the employer to certify that the job offer corresponds to the degree.

'If the conditions that led to the issuance of the first annual visa are still met, it shall be renewed until the end of the first work experience', states the memo.

"Claude Gueant should not simply take step back on his memo…He must apologize. For the human, economic and cultural damage he engendered", said opinionist Caroline Fourest on Le Monde.


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