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French minister defends work visas cuts for non-EU graduates

(Xinhua)

09:32, November 18, 2011

PARIS, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- French Interior Minister Claude Gueant on Thursday defended his memo released on May 31 which suggested a reduction in the number of work visas offered to non-EU graduates of French schools and has since become the target of foreign students' complaint.

It was just "a call of the existing law", Gueant was quoted on local channel LCI, who stressed the difficulties for domestic jobseekers and the priority of protecting jobs for French nationals.

In the so-called "Gueant memo", he noted that "the impact of the most severe economic crisis in history on employment implies a reduction of the flow" of foreigners with French diplomas into the French work force.

Between 8,000 and 10,000 students were estimated to be affected by the decree as the memo resulted in stricter selection process for non-EU graduates of French schools.

"Since the May 31 circular, it's much more difficult for a foreign student with a French graduate degree to obtain a work permit," French immigration lawyer Stephane Halimi was quoted by local television channel FRANCE 24.

The interior minister was firm on his stand, saying "non-European students came to France to study, not to enter the job market. Their main goal should be to return home so as to enable their country to benefit from their skills."

In 2010-2011, France has hosted more than 280,000 foreign students, counting students from other European countries, according CampusFrance, ranking the fourth largest country in the world to host international students after the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

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