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Nigerian students and other immigrants are set to face stricter immigration rules as the French parliament has passed a law restraining them from bringing their families to the country.

This is coming months after the British government in a similar policy, announced new restrictions that will stop Nigerian students, other nationalities studying in the United Kingdom from bringing their families over.

According to a report by the BBC on Thursday, the law was backed by both President, Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Renaissance party and Deputy of the French National Assembly, Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally.

It was reported that a previous draft of the new law was rejected by parliament last week when the National Rally, as well as the left, voted against it. However, in response, the government redrafted the bill, making some of its provisions tougher.

Highlights of the immigration policy

The new toughening immigration policy makes it more difficult for migrants to bring family members to France and delays their access to welfare benefits.

  • It also bans detaining minors in detention centres while leaders of a third of French regions said they would not comply with certain measures in the law.
  • A controversial provision discriminates between citizens and migrants, even those living in the country legally, in determining eligibility for benefits.
  • It was reported that the tougher version of the bill appealed to right-wing parties, who backed it on Monday.
    Ms Le Pen welcomed the amended bill, calling it an “ideological victory” for the far-right.
  • “This is our bill,” said Eric Ciotti, the leader of the right-wing Republican party. He called it “firm and courageous”.

Opposition to the bill

But left-wingers said Mr Macron was enabling the far-right. “History will remember those who betrayed their convictions,” Socialist party leader Olivier Faure said.


32 of France’s 101 departments, including Paris, said they would refuse to implement the provisions of the law on benefits for non-citizens.

The French vote came hours before an EU agreement to reform the asylum system across the bloc’s 27 member states.


The new pact, agreed by EU governments and European Parliament members, includes creating border detention centres and enabling the quicker deportation of rejected asylum seekers.

The new French legislation exposed divisions within the governing alliance as 27 MPs voted against it while 32 abstained – almost a quarter of pro-Macron MPs.


Health Minister Aurélien Rousseau, who was a member of the Communist Party in his youth, stepped down in protest at the immigration law.

“Some measures in the bill make me very uncomfortable,” said Yaël Braun-Pivet, the president of the lower house of parliament and a member of Mr Macron’s party.

What you should know

Recall that earlier in May 2023, the UK Government announced new restrictions that will stop Nigerian students, and other nationalities studying in the UK from bringing their families over.

  • The new rule banned all master students and many other postgraduate students from bringing family over.
    However, the ban will not apply to PhD students, whose courses usually last between 3 and 5 years and are very highly skilled.
  • The UK government’s decision was in response to the alarming surge in net migration, which has reached a staggering one million individuals. 
  • A situation that meant Conservative MPs had to call on the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, to address urgently and regain control over immigration figures.
  • Also, the Canadian government had about 2 weeks ago announced that starting from January 2024, international students must show new proof of funds to the tune of $20,000.
  • The new cost is more than double the current requirement of $10,000, an amount brought in during the early 2000s that has not been adjusted since.
  • For 2024, a single applicant will need to show they have $20,635, representing 75% of LICO, in addition to their first year of tuition and travel costs.
  • The government however announced the extension of the waiver on the 20-hour per week work cap for international students until April 30, 2024.
  • This extension applies only to students already present in Canada and those who submitted a study permit application as of December 7th, 2023.



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