Old and new immigration laws: changes to social benefits for foreigners in France


In France, legally resident foreigners have access to various social benefits, but these entitlements are subject to specific conditions. Available benefits include Active Solidarity Income (RSA) and Allocation de Solidarité aux Personnes Âgées (Aspa - solidarity allowance for the elderly)The RSA is targeted at unemployed or low-income individuals, and elderly people on low pensions. Access conditions differ according to nationality: Europeans can claim the RSA after three months' presence in France, while non-Europeans must have held a residence permit for five years. For the Aspa, non-Europeans must have resided in France with a work permit for at least ten years. Refugees have immediate access to these benefits.

Family allowances, intended for parents with at least two children are also available to legal foreign nationals. However, the the new reform requires five years' residence in France. Personalized housing assistance (APL)designed to help low-income tenants, is available to all legal residents, whether French or foreign, with no waiting period. In terms of healthcare, the Protection Universelle Maladie (Puma) is available to anyone residing stably and legally in France. Asylum seekers are entitled to special assistance, theAsylum seeker's allowance (ADA)while illegal aliens can benefit from theAide Médicale d'État (Ame) for medical care, under certain conditions. However, they are not entitled to any other social benefits.

This article compares the rights of foreigners in France focusing on social benefits, under both the old and new immigration laws. This is a complex and constantly evolving subject, marked by significant political and social debates.

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Comparative analysis of social rights for foreigners in France: Old versus new legislation

The differences between new legislation in France on social rights for foreigners.

1. Entitlement to minimum social benefits

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  • Old law : Legally resident foreigners were entitled to the Revenu de Solidarité Active (RSA) after five years' possession of a residence permit. residence permit authorizing work in France. For the over-65s, the Allocation de Solidarité aux Personnes Âgées (ASPA) was available after ten years of regular residence.
  • New law The conditions for accessing the RSA and ASPA remain similar, although discussions are underway to modify these deadlines.

2. Child benefit entitlements

  • Old law The first step: Legal foreign nationals with at least two dependent children were entitled to family allowances, regardless of their length of residence.
  • New law A proposal now requires five years' residence to qualify for family allowances, with a reduction to two and a half years for foreign workers.

3. Entitlement to personalized housing assistance (APL)

  • Old law APL was granted to residents of France, both French and foreign, with no waiting period.
  • New law APL eligibility conditions remain unchanged, despite recent political debates.

4. Access to healthcare

  • Old law Protection Universelle Maladie (Puma) was accessible to foreigners residing stably and legally in France after three months. Refugees had immediate access.
  • New law Conditions of access to Puma and Health Insurance for foreigners remain unchanged.

5. Specific assistance for asylum seekers

  • Old law Applicants asylum seekers were entitled Allocation pour Demandeur d'Asile (ADA) and specific housing benefits.
  • New law : These rights are maintained, although the amount and conditions of the ADA may be revised.

6. Situation of illegal immigrants

  • Old and new law Undocumented migrants are not entitled to minimum social benefits or family allowances. They have access to Aide Médicale d'Etat (AME) under certain conditions.

Comparative table of conditions of access to social benefits for foreigners: Before and After the Reform

The table below compares the conditions for obtaining social benefits for foreigners, highlighting the differences between legislation before and after the reform of immigration in France.

Social benefitsOld LawNew lawComments
Active Solidarity Income (RSA)5 years of residence permit workingUnchangedDiscussions underway to modify deadlines.
Allocation de Solidarité aux Personnes Âgées (ASPA - solidarity allowance for the elderly)10 years' regular residenceUnchangedSimilar conditions maintained.
Family allowancesNo residency requirement5 years residence (2.5 years for workers)Significant change in access to benefits.
Personalized housing assistance (APL)No waiting periodNo changeEligibility conditions remain unchanged.
Protection Universelle Maladie (Puma)3 months' stable and regular residenceUnchangedImmediate access for refugees.
Asylum seeker's allowance (ADA)Specific allowance while file is being processedUnchangedAmount and conditions are subject to revision.
State Medical Aid (AME)For undocumented foreigners, under certain conditionsUnchangedAccess to basic healthcare, without social benefits.

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