Macron v Le Pen: What are their policies for foreigners in France?

As Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen prepare for a second round battle, we look at their policies for foreigners living in France, and for those hoping to move here.

Macron v Le Pen: What are their policies for foreigners in France?
Getting a carte de sejour could become harder, depending on who wins the election. Photo by THOMAS COEX / AFP


The centrist candidate is pro European and has been keen to attract foreign investment to France – his government has run English-language advertising campaigns to attract foreign workers and businesses to France, and has expanded the Talent visa programme.

After the Brexit vote he sent a message to Brits in France, telling them they would always be welcome.

However, faced with challengers on the far-right, his 2022 campaign manifesto is less liberal on immigration.

Some of his policies have little detail on how exactly they would work.

Among the measures he has proposed are:

  • Giving long-term residency cards (10 years) only to those who have passed a French exam AND have a job – he does not specify what level of French would be needed to pass the exam;
  • Reforming the Schengen zone to make it harder to get into Europe;
  • Reinforcing the French border force;
  • Expelling foreigners who have “upset the public order” – no detail on whether this refers to all criminal offences or only those convicted of serious crimes
  • Reforming the asylum process to make it easier to decide who can stay and “to expel more efficiently” those who cannot. 

Le Pen

Anti-immigration policies have been the hallmark of Le Pen’s party since it was founded by her father Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Since taking over the party, renaming it Rassemblement National and generally trying to ‘detoxify’ it, Marine has been trying to expand her policies – this election campaign has seen her focus heavily on the cost-of-living crisis.

However, her rhetoric remains strongly anti-immigration. She is also strongly anti-EU and although she has dropped her policy of ‘Frexit’, she says that if elected she would refuse to obey EU rules or follow financial contributions – effectively exiting the EU by stealth.

Here’s what her manifesto proposes on immigration:

  • End all non-economic immigration, so that people could only move to France to work;
  • End immigration for family reunification purposes;
  • Treat all requests for asylum overseas. 

But the meat of her policy lies in making life harder for migrants who are already in France:

  • Reserve social aid for French people and condition access to other state benefits on having worked in France for five years;
  • Give French people priority in social housing and employment;
  • Take away visas/residency cards of all foreigners who have been out of work for one year in France;
  • Systematically expel illegal immigrants, delinquents and foreign criminals;
  • Get rid of jus soli (the right to citizenship through birth in France);
  • Allow French citizenship only to people who have “earned it and assimilated” – although she gives no detail on how this would be different to the current process, which already requires a French test and an interview on French culture for those applying through residency or marriage.  
The pair face each other in a live TV debate on April 20th, and then in a second round of voting on April 24th. 

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Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France’s disabilities minister

France's disabilities minister will not face a new inquiry "as things stand" over a rape allegation that surfaced just after his nomination by President Emmanuel Macron last week, prosecutors have said, citing the anonymity of the alleged victim.

Prosecutors: No new rape inquiry for France's disabilities minister

Damien Abad has faced growing pressure to resign after the news website Mediapart reported the assault claims by two women dating from over a decade ago, which he has denied.

One of the women, identified only by her first name, Margaux, filed a rape complaint in 2017 that was later dismissed by prosecutors.

The other woman, known only as Chloe, told Mediapart that in 2010 she had blacked out after accepting a glass of champagne from Abad at a bar in Paris, and woke up in her underwear in pain with him in a hotel room. She believes she may have been drugged.

She did not file an official complaint, but the Paris prosecutors’ office said it was looking into the case after being informed by the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics, a group formed by members of France’s MeToo movement.

“As things stand, the Paris prosecutors’ office is not following up on the letter” from the observatory, it said, citing “the inability to identify the victim of the alleged acts and therefore the impossibility of proceeding to a hearing.”

In cases of sexual assault against adults, Paris prosecutors can open an inquiry only if an official complaint is made, meaning the victim must give their identity.

Abad has rejected the calls to resign in order to ensure the new government’s “exemplarity,” saying that he is innocent and that his own condition of arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his joints, means sexual relations can occur only with the help of a partner.

The appointment of Abad as minister for solidarities and people with disabilities in a reshuffle last Friday was seen as a major coup for Macron, as the 42-year-old had defected from the right-wing opposition.

The new prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, said she was unaware of the allegations before Abad’s nomination, but insisted that “If there is new information, if a new complaint is filed, we will draw all the consequences.”

The claims could loom large over parliamentary elections next month, when Macron is hoping to secure a solid majority for his reformist agenda. Abad will be standing for re-election in the Ain department north of Lyon.