The notorious bureaucratic obstacles facing foreign scientists wishing to work in France may soon be a thing of the past. Under new measures announced by the government, foreign scientists will in future be considered as a special category, and be able to obtain visas without having first to obtain a work permit — a formal invitation from a recognized research body will suffice.
The measures are intended to encourage greater scientific immigration, which has suffered under France's increasingly strict immigration laws, deterring many prospective visitors (see Nature 368, 6; 1994). Under the new rules, employers wishing to invite scientists will also benefit from simplified procedures, freeing them, for example, from laws requiring that all jobs be advertised nationally to establish that suitable French candidates are unavailable.
Similarly, researchers' families will be awarded visas — and work permits — simultaneously with the approval of the invited scientist's dossier. At present, strict administrative rules often prevent researchers from being joined by their families for up to two years.
The circular setting out the new rules says that an influx of overseas scientists is in the “higher interests of our country”, and that applications can only be blocked for national security reasons.