France toughens control for immigrants

French Prime minister Dominique de Villepin announced Tuesday in an interview with US television network CNN that France will toughen control for immigrants seeking to join their relatives in France or for choosing foreign students.

"I want our immigration policy to be a global policy, a chosen policy: that is the condition for its success," Villepin said. He said that it would be "more reasonable" for new arrivals to be asked to wait longer (two years instead of one) before bringing their families into France.

The French government decided to prolong by two years the couple life before giving the French nationality to foreigners who marry a French citizen in order to fight fraudulent marriages that some immigrants use to obtain residency.

Marriage is the largest source of &to=' target=_blank>legal immigration to France with some 34,000 French people married foreigners from outside the European Union and Switzerland in 2004, compared to 13,000 in 1995.

Marriages celebrated abroad between French people and foreigners should no longer be automatically recognized in France, said Villepin, adding a measure requiring consulates to screen a couple before a foreign spouse is granted French identity papers will be brought before parliament in the first half of 2006.

Some 50,000 foreign students who seek to study in France each year would also be screened by French officials in their home countries, said the Prime Minister, informs Xinhua.

After his re-election in 2002, &to=' target=_blank>President Chirac declared road safety to be a national priority and ministers have been on notice to show an example as police have cracked down on the country’s wild driving culture.

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