France to set immigrant quotas for professionals

Currently employers have to justify why a French citizen cannot be hired in a complex administrative process which resulted in around 33,000 economic migrants being granted visas last year

Immigration has now become a major political concern for Macron's La Republic en Marche party as right-wing voters continue to threaten his chances of winning office again in 2022.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has said France needs to "take back control" of migration, as part of a carefully controlled government push to listen to voters' worries over growing immigration that risks playing into the hands of the far-right.

His announcements came a day after Labour Minister Muriel Penicaud said France would introduce migrant quotas for the first time next year.

The news comes following President Emmanuel Macron's recent bid to toughen immigration policy, and his calls on European Union members to share the burden of asylum seekers.

The government, closely allied to centrist President Emmanuel Macron, is walking a political tightrope because it is under pressure too from its own supporters who oppose any measures they view as pandering to the far-right.

The French government is expected to announce on Wednesday new rules to help economic immigration, according to cabinet sources quoted by local media on Tuesday. "Then it is to welcome the refugees and enable them to find a job", Penicaud said.

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Currently, employers have to explain why a French national can not be hired in a complex administrative process that resulted in around 33,000 economic migrants receiving visas previous year. There is also a dearth of qualified national candidates in areas from the IT and engineering industries to vets.

Penicaud did not say how many foreign workers would receive visas or whether the candidate's citizenship would be taken into consideration - a proposal made by Prime Minister Édouard Philippe last month.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe speaks at a news conference on immigration in Paris, Wednesday Nov. 6, 2019.

The new measures could include restrictions on migrants bringing over family members, or limiting access to health care for asylum seekers while their claims are processed.

Macron angered the Bulgarian government last week after saying in an interview with a magazine that he preferred migrants from Guinea or Côte d'Ivoire to work legally rather than "illegal networks of Bulgarians and Ukrainians", AFP recalls.

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