67.391.582 (World Bank 2020)
67.813.396 (STAT FR 2022)
385.591 (Eurostat 2019)
169.000 (STAT FR 2020)
2.341.908 (UN Emigration Stock 2020)
29.000 (STAT FR 2020)
41.508.422 (World Bank 2020)
29.346.000 (STAT FR 2020)
8.6% (World Bank 2020)
7.4% (STAT FR 2022)
2.603 tn, current prices USD (World Bank 2019)
2.303 tn, current prices EUR (STAT FR 2021)
1.350 (UN Refugee Stock mid-2020)
54.000 (OFPRA 2021)
103.754 (UNHCR mid-2020)
103.000 (OFPRA 2021)
551.500 km² (CIA World Factbook)
Ministry of Labour, Employment and Inclusion
Ministry of Higher Education and Research
Code of entry and stay of the foreigners and asylum right
2018 Law for a controlled immigration, an effective right of asylum and a successful integration
2018 Law enabling the effective implementation of the European asylum system
2016 Law on the right of foreigners in France
The executive order no. 2020-1733 of December 16, 2020 on the legislative part of the Code on the Entry and Stay of Foreigners and the Right of Asylum
The decree of March 15, 2022 creating a personal data processing called "Census of accommodation and housing offers for displaced persons from Ukraine"
The decree no. 2021-360 of March 31, 2021 concerning the employment of a foreign worker
The decree No. 2021-520 of April 29, 2021, amending the Code on the Entry and Stay of Foreigners and the Right of Asylum in the version resulting from Decree No. 2020-1734 of December 16, 2020
UNICEF, France. Migration profiles Part I. Global legal instruments related to international migration
Les chiffres clés de l’immigration. 2020. Ministry of Interior,
Frederick Cooper, 2022, Citizenship and difference in France: colonial histories and postcolonial controversies, Citizenship Studies, 26:4-5, 418-425, DOI: 10.1080/13621025.2022.2091222
Cris Beauchemin, Mathieu Ichou, Patrick Simon and the TeO2 team, 2022,
Immigrant families: rising educational levels across generations but persistent inequalities
Sabrina Volant, Gilles Pison, François Héran, 2019
French fertility is the highest in Europe. Because of its immigrants?
Hippolyte d’Albis, Ekrame Boubtane, 2018,
Admission to France of asylum seekers since 2000
Elika Athari, Jérôme Lê (Insee), Yaël Brinbaum (Cnam - Laboratoire interdisciplinaire de sociologie économique - CEET), 2019
The role of origins in the persistence of employment and salary inequalities
France, one of the main migration destinations, has a two-century history of immigration due to the industrial and political revolutions. The country is projected to remain an attractive destination based on the Gallup potential net migration index. On 1 January 2022, France had a population of 67.8 million inhabitants. The net migration of 155.000 people contribute to nearly two-thirds of the population increase, which amounts to around 0.25% per year.
In 2021, 8.7 million people living in France were born abroad, representing 12.8% of the total population. Of them, 1.7 million were French nationals born abroad. Another 7 million were immigrants, 4.5 million of whom were foreign citizens and 2.5 million were persons who have earned French citizenship. In addition, the total foreign population included 0.8 million people born in France to foreign citizens.
France's colonial history and geographic location greatly determine the major countries of origin of immigrants. In 2021, 47.5 % of immigrants in France were born in an African country, and 30% were born in the Maghreb, which represents a stable proportion since the 1980s. Meanwhile, the share of immigrants from Europe in France is decreasing. It reached 33% in 2021 compared to 66% in 1975. Since 1999, the origins of European immigrants are increasingly varied, with a growing share of immigrants born in Eastern Europe and the United Kingdom. In particular, the demand for residency in France among British citizens skyrocketed after Brexit, from 12.678 in 2017 to 155.243 in 2022. Immigration from sub-Saharan Africa is rather recent and mainly concerns countries formerly under the French administration. The most common countries of birth of immigrants are Algeria, Morocco, Portugal, Tunisia, Italy, Turkey, and Spain. Together with the UK and China, these countries made up the majority of the 88.300 immigration flow recorded in 2020. In the next year, nationals of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia received the majority of 270.925 first-time residence permits issued in France. Meanwhile, the overall number of valid residence permits in 2022 amounted to 3.567.694.
Based on 2018 data, half of the working-age immigrant population entered France before 1998. Out of those who arrived at the age of 15 or older, nearly half claim to have emigrated for family reasons. The share of migrants coming to France through family reunification is consistently high. In 2021, non-EU nationals received as many as 88.225 first-time residence permits for family reasons, followed by 36.560 permits issued on economic grounds.
Economic migration has intensified since 2010. A substantial proportion of immigrants work in such sectors as personal and community services, hotels, restaurants, construction and public buildings. Three-quarters of the 39.131 first permits issued for economic reasons in 2019 were issued to salaried workers, which corresponds to 72.5% of permanent job contracts, 13% were granted to scientists and researchers, and 11% were issued in the context of seasonal or temporary migration. Overall, today’s immigrants in France are more educated. However, immigrants often face a higher unemployment rate. In 2021, the unemployment rate of immigrants was 12.7% vs 7.9% rate of the general population. Moreover, immigrants from the Maghreb and other African countries have a significantly higher risk of feeling overqualified, but they also face the highest unemployment rate of 15.3%.
In 2021, France issued 85.080 permits to international students. During the 2020-2021 academic year, 278.278 international students – mainly from Morocco, China, and Algeria – were enrolled in a degree and non-degree studies in France.
The situation in the area of international protection has evolved over the past decade leading to the rise in the number of asylum applications and the change in the main origin countries of applicants. From 2010 until 2021, the number of asylum seekers increased two-fold from 52.762 to 103.164. Apart from Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which also featured among applicants ten years ago, other important origin countries in 2021 included Afghanistan, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Turkey, Albania, Georgia, Nigeria, and Comoros. In 2021, France granted protection to 54.384 persons and hosted close to half a million persons under different forms of protection.
The resettlement programs carried out by the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons involved 2028 people and missions to Lebanon (5), Turkey (4), Egypt (3), Jordan (1), Rwanda (4), Chad (1), Cameroon (2) and Ethiopia (1). The assistance program initiated in Greece in 2020 is aimed at providing support to unaccompanied minors, vulnerable families and beneficiaries of international protection in France, involved 341 people in 2021.
In 2022, France faced an inflow of people fleeing the war in Ukraine. By early August 2022, over 96.000 Ukrainian nationals obtained temporary protection in France. This status is granted for one year and can be extended throughout the European Union. It allows them to enjoy the right of residence, access to the labour market, access to housing, social assistance, medical assistance, legal custody for unaccompanied minors as well as access to education. Beyond that, Ukrainian refugees in France can also benefit from personalized housing assistance (APL). Depending on their situation, families can also receive various family allowances to support their families.
In terms of irregular migration, the number of arrests of foreigners in the irregular situation reached its ten-year maximum of 125.000 in 2019 but then declined by 20% due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A similar trend was observed with regard to returns. Meanwhile, the number of non-admissions on the contrary increased by over 40% to 78.542 in 2020 compared to the previous year. The Ministry of Interior shows that 16.819 undocumented migrants left the French territory in 2021. There were 10.091 forced returns (deportations and readmission combined), as well as 1.415 voluntary departures and 2001 spontaneous departures. Beyond that, the number of migrants crossing the English Channel tripled in 2021 compared to 2020, partly due to the reinforcement of controls in Calais and in the Eurotunnel.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1.614.772 French citizens are registered in consular offices abroad, but an estimated 2.5 million to 3.5 million live outside France, predominantly in Switzerland, the US, the UK, Belgium and Canada. Over the period 2005-2015, the number of French nationals leaving France has been growing at a 3% per year, amounting to about 60.000 people, excluding some 300.000 cross-border workers. People are leaving for various reasons including economic opportunities (China, the US) and historical links with France (Morocco, Algeria, Israel, Canada), but also due to the cost of living, and the interest in other people and cultures. Most French emigrants settle in Europe and North America. These are generally skilled people: financial executives, engineers, administrative, health and education professionals, IT graduates and researchers. In 2019, 58% of French nationals living abroad held a higher education degree.
On the bilateral level, France has concluded agreements with 12 countries that allow former students holding certain degrees to seek and obtain employment in France. The country also has signed bilateral agreements with New Zealand, Argentina, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia, Montenegro, Serbia, Gabon, Canada, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the US on the exchange of young professionals, who receive work permits to gain professional and paid working experience abroad. Citizens of Benin, the Republic of Congo, Mauritius, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gabon and Montenegro are eligible for a multi-year residence permit with the mention "talent passport", which is granted for significant and sustainable participation in the economic development of France and the country of origin. Nationals from Benin, Burkina Faso, the Republic of Congo, Gabon and Tunisia can also obtain a long-term residence permit as an "employee" or a short-term permit as a "temporary worker" if no suitable candidate is available in the French labour market.
At the international level, France is a party to many international legal instruments protecting migrants, their families and their rights. It adopted the Global Compact for Refugees and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. France is one of the 21 states that voted for a solidarity mechanism with EU front-line Member States, listed as the first step of the New EU’s Pact on Migration and Asylum. The country is currently debating the new provision on immigration that shall become part of the future law of orientation and programming. It shall foresee the "double penalty" for foreign criminals (sentencing and expulsion), the quicker decision of expulsion of rejected asylum seekers and adoption of additional quotas by industry.