The French parliament recently passed legislation imposing stringent immigration restrictions on Nigerian and international students, hindering their ability to bring family members to the country. The new law, approved on Friday, not only complicates the process for migrants seeking family reunification but also introduces delays in accessing welfare benefits.
Among the controversial provisions of the law is a discriminatory measure that differentiates between citizens and migrants, even those residing in the country legally, impacting their eligibility for various benefits. Additionally, the legislation bans the detention of minors in detention centers, prompting leaders from a third of French regions to express non-compliance with certain aspects of the law.
This development follows a similar trend in the United Kingdom, which implemented a no-dependant restriction on international students in May. Consequently, Nigerian students, traditionally significant contributors to the UK’s international student community, have begun exploring alternative options within the European zone, with France being considered. However, the recent immigration policy in France has further limited their choices.
Meanwhile, the skilled worker visa route, often viewed as a preferable option in the UK, has also undergone reshuffling.
In a parallel move, Canada announced changes in its immigration policies in December, effective from January 2024. International students planning to study in Canada are now required to provide proof of funds amounting to ₦16,050,000.0000 ($20,000), more than double the previous requirement of $10,000 set in the early 2000s and left unchanged since then.
While the increased financial obligation poses a challenge for prospective students, the Canadian government extended the waiver on the 20-hour per week work cap for international students until April 30, 2024. This extension, applicable to students already present in Canada and those who submitted a study permit application as of December 7th, 2023, allows students to work more than the standard 20 hours per week while classes are in session. The initial measure was introduced on November 15, 2022, and was originally set to expire on December 31, 2023.