Posted on October 1, 2021

France to Reduce Visas for North Africans in Migration Spat

Angela Charlton, Associated Press, September 28, 2021

France will reduce the number of visas issued to people in North Africa because governments there are refusing to take back migrants expelled from France.

The move announced Tuesday comes amid pressure from far-right politicians on centrist President Emmanuel Macron to implement tougher immigration rules and creates new tensions between France and its North African neighbors. Morocco’s foreign minister slammed the decision as “unjustified.”

Starting in a few weeks, the French government plans to slash the number of visas given to Algerians and Moroccans by half, and to Tunisians by 30%, according to government officials.

All three countries were part of France’s colonial empire, and many Europe-bound migrants and other visitors coming from those North African nations have family or other ties in France.

French spokesperson Gabriel Attal told Europe-1 radio that France decided to take action because Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia have refused recently to provide consular documents for their citizens being deported from France after arriving illegally. Virus travel restrictions have also complicated such return efforts.

A senior official in the French presidency said France notably wants North African countries to take back people flagged for extremism, and expressed hope that a solution can be found soon.

Attal said France has been trying to reach a diplomatic solution since it passed a tougher immigration law in 2018. Between January and July, French judicial authorities ordered 7,731 Algerians to leave French territory because they didn’t have residency authorization but only 22 departed because many lacked the necessary documents from Algeria, Europe-1 reported.