France has faced criticism for its needlessly complicated visa bureaucracy for African nationals.
Agadir – Moroccan citizens were the number one recipients of Schengen Zone visas from French consulates in 2020, according to data released by the French Interior Ministry.
Out of the approximately 700,000 visas issued by French consulates last year, the largest recipients were Moroccans, with 98,627 Schengen visas issued. Followed by Russians who received 78,701 Schengen visas, and in third place came Algerians with 73,276 visas.
Compared to 2019, 2020 saw a substantial drop in the number of visas issued by French consulates, from 3,5 million to 700,000. The sharp decrease, 82%, was largely due to travel restrictions EU countries adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, all forms of immigration were affected. When compared to 2019, the issuance of residence permits declined by 16.9%, while professional immigration saw a 31% decrease. Meanwhile, there was a 20% decrease in the acquisition of French nationality.
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A total of 3,980,989 persons applied for a French Schengen visa in 2019, of which 3,291,128 received a positive response, while 635,489 were denied.
On January 12, 2021, Franco-Moroccan MP M’Jid El Guerrab co-authored and presented a report to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French National Assembly, appealing for an easier visa granting process for Africans.
The document confirmed French authorities’ long-suspected bias against nationals of African countries when it comes to visas.
“Excessively long delivery times, unjustified refusals, strained consular services” are some of the issues permeating visa bureaucracy for African travelers, said the document. It also argued that the needlessly complicated process surrounding visa-issuing has become a foreign policy issue for France. “It is one of the main irritants between France and Africa,” noted El Guerrab.