A French language class in Paris | Photo: InfoMigrants
A French language class in Paris | Photo: InfoMigrants

Foreigners who fail a French test will not be deported, the head of the French Office for Immigration and Integration (OFII) has said. The mandatory language test is part of a set of measures included in a national immigration reform bill.

One of the main proposals of the immigration reform bill is to add a language competency requirement for multi-year residency permits. During a hearing of the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH) on March 13, Didier Leschi, head of OFII, said foreigners who failed that competency test would not be deported.

Today, the only requirement to obtaining such a permit is to take language classes. The bill does not plan to increase the number of those classes, but it will allow employers to consider French classes as work time. The length of those classes was doubled in 2018.

Foreigners without a multi-year residency permit can still apply for a yearly permit without the test. "This language competency goal is not about excluding people from residency status," Leschi explained.

'European harmonization'

"Setting a goal to people is a way to help in their motivation. The requirement today is quite low, because it is only to attend 80% of class hours." So far only 67% of signatories of the Republican Integration Contract (CIR) reach the minimal French language competency, Leschi argued, defending the bill's language component.

The bill also plans to make easier the deportation of foreigners who are deemed "a threat to public order" and reform the right to asylum.

The legislation is opposed strongly by the conservative Republicans. It will be discussed in the conservative party-controlled Senate in April before it is moved to the National Assembly around the summer.


More articles