French will reduce the number of visas available to be issued to nationals of the Maghreb countries as the result of their governments’ refusal to take back immigrants that are illegally residing in France, according to government spokesman Gabriel Attal.
“It is a decision that is made necessary as these countries do not accept back nationals whom we do not want and cannot keep in France,” Attal told French Europe 1 Radio.
The Maghreb countries are made up of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.
According to French Europe 1 Radio, visas issued to nationals of Morocco and Algeria will be reduced by 50% and visas issued to nationals of Tunisia will be reduced by 30%.
France initially decided to take action several weeks ago once Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia refused to provide consular documents or services for their citizens that were being returned to their countries, after illegally staying in France, according to Attal.
Attal also said that France has been trying to reach diplomatic solutions with the Maghreb countries after passing tougher immigration laws in 2018.
Between January and July 2021, French judicial authorities ordered that 7,731 Algerians leave French territory due to them not having authorization for residency. Only 22 returned to Algeria, however, because most of them were refused the necessary documents from Algeria.
The Maghreb countries’ refusal to take their citizens back apparently pushed French officials to cut their number of visas issued as a way to keep people from staying after their visas expire and deter future illegal immigration, Schengen-Visa.com reports.
“It is a drastic decision, an unprecedented decision, but it is a decision made necessary by the fact that these countries do not accept to take back nationals that we do not want and cannot keep in France,” Attal told French Europe 1 Radio.
It is still unclear when the visa reductions will go into force.