79.8% Drop In Number of Visas Issued by France Last Year, Official Data Shows

France has issued a total of 712,317 visas in 2020, marking a significant decrease in the number of visas issued compared to 2019 figures, in which year, a total of 3,534,999 visas were issued.

In 2020, there has been recorded a 79.8 per cent decline in the number of visas issued. While the figures marked a lower drop for long-stay visas or 37.1 in total, the short-stay visas declined by 82.9 per cent for Schengen visa applications.

Figures by the French Ministry of the Interior show that the Coronavirus situation profoundly affected migration flows during last year, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

“This decrease is directly attributable to the health crisis. In addition, international travel has been affected by the lack of air links and the closure of many borders. As a result, China, traditionally the first country of origin for visa holders, moved to fourth place, behind Morocco, Russia and Algeria,” the Ministry of the Interior announced through a statement.

The number of first-time residence permits issued during last year marked a 20.9 per cent decrease last year, with a total of 219,302 residence permits issued.

A significant decrease (16 per cent decrease) has also been noted in family immigration, which represents the most significant part of the migratory flow.

“This is linked to the fact that part of the family titles is attributed to people already staying in the territory when they apply for the title. Therefore, the impact of the border closures linked to the health crisis is less important than for the other titles,” the statement published by the Ministry of the Interior has clarified.

In January this year, the Ministry of the Interior revealed that citizens of the following countries benefited the most from the Schengen Visas issued by authorities in France during 2020;

  • Morocco- 98,627 Schengen visas
  • Russians – 78,701 Schengen visas
  • Algerians – 73,276 Schengen visas
  • Chinese citizens – 71,451 Schengen visas

According to the same source, the number of applications for residence permits from students has been contained, marking a 20 per cent decrease compared to 2019 figures, as the implementation of a new tool helped the students to submit their requests for a residence permit without delay, which also helped the applications to be processed more quickly.

As for professional immigration, it suffered a 32.1 per cent decrease during last year, which figures show that it has been particularly affected by the situation provoked by the Coronavirus outbreak, which led governments to tighten their entry rules and other restrictions in order to halt the further spread of the deadly virus.

Such decrease could have been caused by the probable postponement or abandonment of work-related projects or the slowdown in the economic activity in France.

Last year, about 31,000 talent passport residence permits were issued, taking into account 9,376 first permits and 21,4756 renewal permits, causing a 16.6 per cent overall decrease.

Number of Asylum Applications – A Significant Decrease Compared to 2019 Figures

According to the French Ministry of the Interior data, there have been registered in the Single Windows for Asylum Application (GUDA) a total of 81,531 first requests, including minors and 11,733 requests for renewal, or 38.4 decreases compared to 2019 figures.

Citizens from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Guinea and Turkey made the top countries of origin in terms of first-time asylum seekers in GUDA last year. On the other hand, Georgia and Albania no longer belong in the top 10 countries list regarding first-time applications.

Among the first requests, a total of 21 per cent were placed under the Dublin procedure on December 31, marking a four-point decrease compared to the previous year.

The same source reveals that the number of persons who were granted international protection in France was 24,181 in 2020 compared to a total of 36,275 recorded in 2019, marking a 33 per cent decrease.

Notable Decrease in French Nationality Acquisition in 2020

The number of acquisitions of French nationality marked a 22.7 per cent decrease last year. It was mainly a result of the Coronavirus preventive measures taken to halt the further spread of the virus.

According to the recent figures published by the French Ministry of the Interior, it was noted a significant decrease in acquisitions by declaration, which fell from 58,308 in 2019 to 41,234 in 2020, or a total of 29 per cent decrease, as well as the continued decline in the number of acquisitions by decree that marked a 15.6 per cent decrease, from 49,671 in 2019 to 41,927 in 2020.

SchengenVisaInfo.com previously reported that the highest number of French citizenship acquisitions was registered in 2004. In the same year, there were 160,000 acquisitions, of them 87,497 by naturalization, 29,872 by advanced declaration, 34,439 by marriage and over 17,000 by other acquisition types.

The number of acquisitions during 2015 was 113,606, while in 2016, the number was 119,152. The same source revealed that in 2017 there were registered a total of 114,274 acquisitions, while the number marked an increase in 2019, with the number of acquisitions 112,626.

Removal of Illegal Aliens

Even though authorities in France continue their fight against illegal immigration, it continues to be among the main problems for France’s government.

In 2020, the number of removals of persons who remained illegally in the country fell by 47.8 per cent, due to the COVID-19 situation, with the tightening of borders and other restrictions imposed to stop the further spread of the virus.

According to the figures published by the Ministry of the Interior, the forced removals and assisted voluntary departures of nationals from third countries marked the most profound decrease, precisely 51.8 per cent and 63.0 per cent. On the other hand, helped and spontaneous removals were the least affected by the decline, or 39.8 per cent and 22.7 per cent specifically.

“In total, nearly 15,950 foreigners in an irregular situation left the national territory in 2020 (removals, assisted voluntary departures and spontaneous departures), i.e. a level less than half that of 2019,” the statement reads.

Previously, the Ministry of the Interior showed that in 2020, a total of 81,669 first time applications were made in France, or a 38.2 per cent decrease compared to 2019’s statistics.

France Among Top European Countries With Highest Number of Illegal Migrants

France remains among the European countries with the highest numbers of internationals who enter and attempt to stay in the Western European country in an unlawful way.

Besides illegal immigration, France often has been in the spotlight of several attacks; therefore, the French President, Emmanuel Macron, has continuously called on the European authorities to take preventive measures in order to stop aliens from illegally entering the country. Besides, the President urged to reaffirm the Schengen Zone, calling on the EU authorities to reanalyze the free movement within the borderless area.

Simultaneously, France’s government previously doubled the number of police officers from 2,400 to a total of 4,800 in order to protect the country.

The recent increase in the number of migrants, mainly from Afghanistan, who are reaching European Union countries, is pushing the EU authorities to take other actions in order to deal with such a situation.

Previously, France and Germany talked about introducing a new plan which would help to tackle the increased number of migrants from Afghanistan, as the French President pointed out.

“We must anticipate and protect ourselves against major irregular migratory flows that would endanger those who use them and feed trafficking of all kinds,” the French President pointed out in this regard.

At the same time, Brussels has offered €600 million financial support to Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries if they accepted building camps that would help to deal with the current migrant flows.

Such camps were proposed to be built in countries such as Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkey, despite those camps being infamous for several illicit affairs.

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