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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Is the Circulaire Guéant Dead?

Not quite.  It's gasping for air but it still has a pulse.

After French ministers met with representatives from universities and the "Grandes Ecoles" late December (apparently they did not meet at that time with students or their organizations) the government announced that they would be releasing "une circulaire complémentaire" to the Prefectures.  Le Point reported this on January 4th:
Les ministres ont décidé d'adresser aux préfets dès la semaine prochaine une circulaire complémentaire, donnant les orientations applicables à la situation spécifique des diplômés étrangers hautement qualifiés, de niveau au moins égal au master 2, qui souhaitent acquérir en France une première expérience professionnelle, conformément à la loi en vigueur.
The ministers have decided to send next week complementary instructions giving the applicable orientations to be applied to the specific situation of highly-qualified foreign graduates with at least a master 2 level who wish a first professional work experience in France, in conformity with current law.
Le Monde had more here including an admission from one government minister, Laurent Wauquiez (Higher Education) on French television that, "On s'est plantés, il faut le dire clairement." (We screwed up. It is necessary to clearly state that.)  This man has my complete and total admiration - it takes enormous courage to say something like this publicly in this country.

The new text, however, is not a replacement of the original May 31 Circulaire, it is a "clarification".  The Prefectures are still obliged to apply the original directive but they are to do so in such a way that, "la nécessaire maîtrise de l'immigration professionnelle ne se fasse pas au détriment de l'attractivité du système d'enseignement supérieur, ni des besoins de certaines entreprises." (the necessary controls over professional immigration do not adversely impact the attractiveness of French higher education and the needs of certain companies.)

I see.  Actually, I don't.  And I'm not only one who remains a bit skeptical.  The latest news is that, after meeting with students, the presidents of France's Grandes Ecoles replied by complimenting the government for its willingness to move in the right direction while still insisting that further "clarifications" need to be made.  French law, they say, is clear:  all foreign graduates who have received a job offer commensurate with their education have the right to receive a work permit (article L311-11).  End of story.

And that is where we are today.  We'll see how the French government responds to this.

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