Most of the population from immigrant stock is of European descent (mainly from Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal as well as Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, and the former Yugoslavia) although France has a sizeable population of Arabs and Africans from its former colonies, the proportion of immigrants in France is on par with other European nations such as the United Kingdom (8%), Germany (9%), the Netherlands (18%), Sweden (13%) and Switzerland (19%). Estimates of each South and Southeast Asian (i.e. Indians and Vietnamese) and Latin American (Haitians, Chileans and Argentines) nationalities living in France are under 50,000 each.
According to Michèle Tribalat, researcher at INED, it is very difficult to estimate the number of French immigrants or born to immigrants, because of the absence of official statistics. Only three surveys have been conducted: in 1927, 1942, and 1986 respectively. According to a 2004 study, there were approximatively 14 million persons of foreign ancestry, defined as either immigrants or people with at least one parent, grandparent, or great-parent emigreé. 5.2 million of these people were from South-European ascendency (Italy, Spain, Portugal); and 3 million come from the Maghreb (North Africa).
In 2004, a total of 140,033 people immigrated to France. Of them, 90,250 were from Africa and 13,710 from Europe. In 2005, immigration level fell slightly to 135,890. The European Union allows free movement between the member states. While the UK (along with Ireland and Sweden ) did not impose restrictions, France put in place controls to curb Eastern European migration.
In the 2000s, the net migration rate was estimated to be 0.66 migrants per 1,000 population a year. This is a very low rate of immigration compared to other European countries, the USA or Canada. Since the beginning of the 1990s, France has been attempting to curb immigration, first with the Pasqua laws, followed by both right-wing and socialist-issued laws. The immigration rate is currently lower than in other European countries such as United Kingdom and Spain; however, some say it is doubtful that the policies in themselves account for such a change. Again, as in the 1920s and 1930s, France stands in contrast with the rest of Europe. Back in the 1920s and 1930s, when European countries had a high fertility rate, France had a low fertility rate and had to open its doors to immigration to avoid population decline. Today, it is the rest of Europe that has very low fertility rates, and countries like Germany or Spain avoid population decline only through immigration. In France, however, fertility rate is still fairly high for European standards, in fact the highest in Europe after Ireland, and so most population growth is due to natural increase, unlike in the other European countries. This difference in immigration trends is also due to the fact that the labor market in France is currently less dynamic than in other countries such as the UK, Ireland or Spain , this may even be a more relevant factor than low birth rates (because Ireland has both the highest fertility and the highest net immigration rate in Europe, whereas Eastern European countries such as Poland or Ukraine have both a low fertility and a high net emigration rate, as well as a high unemployment rate).
For example, according to the UK Office for National Statistics, in the three years between July 2001 and July 2004 the population of the UK increased by 721,500 inhabitants, of which 242,800 (34%) was due to natural increase, and 478,500 (66%) to immigration. According to the INSEE, in the three years between January 2001 and January 2004 the population of Metropolitan France increased by 1,057,000 inhabitants, of which 678,000 (64%) was due to natural increase, and 379,500 (36%) to immigration.
The latest 2006 demographic statistics have been released, and France's birth and fertility rates have continued to rise. The fertility rate increased to 2.00, the highest of the G-7 countries, and for the first time approaches the fertility rate of the United States.
On 1 January 2005, a new Immigration Law came into effect that altered the legal method of immigration to Germany. The practical changes to the immigration procedures and limitations were relatively minor. Traditionally, Germany has not considered itself a country with a need for large numbers of immigrants and has limited entry accordingly.
Immigrating to Germany as a non EU-citizen has not become easier under the new law as it continues to limit the recruitment of foreign employees. This limitation applies most particularly to unskilled or semi-skilled employees. In order to obtain a work permit one must demonstrate a justified individual need or public interest in the employment. Without a concrete job offer one has almost no chance of getting a residence permit. Different rules apply to refugees, asylum seekers, EU citizens, family members of German citizens, and close relatives of individuals already living in Germany.
Thereafter, the prospective employer has to announce this engagement to the employment centre (Arbeitsagentur). The “Arbeitsagentur” only agrees to issue a residency permit if there is no German or otherwise privileged foreign employee available for the employment.
There are exceptions, in particular for highly qualified employees. The judgement of whether an applicant is highly qualified or not can based on various factors, including education, the type of job, or a salary above a certain threshold. The threshold is currently set at 85.500 € p.a.) Highly qualified employees might immediately receive a permanent residence permit (“Niederlassungserlaubnis”). Spouses and children moving with them are allowed to work without having to get additional permits (this exception includes other relatives in limited situations). The process is similar to highly skilled immigrant programs in the United States and other European countries. The German scheme is similar to ones operated by other European countries, for example the United Kingdom's Highly Skilled Migrant Programme. The major difference is that the salary threshold is the highest of any European country with similar work visas. For example, Austria's income requirements are around 50% less that of Germany.
Self-employed people can get a residence permit, so long as the government finds that the job would fulfill a superior economic interest, fulfill a regional need, or have an expected net positive effect on the economy. Furthermore, the sponsor must guarantee the financing. Once an immigrant has met those requirement, an individual inquiry will take place as to whether a German citizen or preferred immigrant could perform the same job function. As a general rule these requirements will be assumed if at least ten jobs will be created and 1 million € invested. The assessment of the requirements will conform to the quality of the business idea, the entrepreneurial experience of the applicant, the capital expenditure, the effects on employment and outofschool education, and the contribution to innovation and research. A residence permit to work self-employed could also be issued, if there are mutual benefits according to international law. After three years one may apply for and receive a permanent residence permit “Niederlassungserlaubnis”, so long as the planned idea is put into practice successfully and one's livelihood is secured.
Foreign students can stay for one year after a university degree in order to find a job matching their qualifications.
The population of Spain doubled during the twentieth century, due to the spectacular demographic boom by the 60's and early 70's. Then, the birth rate plunged by the 80's and Spain's population became stalled, its demographics showing one of the lowest sub replacement fertility rate in the world, only second to Japan's. Many demographers have linked Spain's very low fertility rate to the country's lack of any real family planning policy. Spain is the Western European country that spends least on family support (0.5% of GDP). A graphic illustration of the enormous social gulf between Spain and the rest of Europe in this field is the fact that a Spanish family would need to have 57 children to enjoy the same financial support as a family with 3 children in Luxembourg.
In emigration/immigration terms, after centuries of net emigration, Spain, has recently experienced large-scale immigration for the first time in modern history. According to the Spanish government there were 4,145,000 foreign residents in Spain in January 2007. Of these well over half a million were Moroccan while the Ecuadorians figure was around half a million as well. Romanian and Colombian populations amounted to around 300,000 each. There are also a significant number of British (274,000 as of 2006) and German (133,588) citizens, mainly in Alicante, Málaga provinces, Balearic islands and Canary islands. Chinese in Spain are estimated to number between ten and sixty thousand. Immigrants from several sub-Saharan African countries have also settled in Spain as contract workers, although they represent only 4.08% of all the foreign residents in the country.
During the early 2000s, the mean year-on-year demographic growth set a new record with its 2003 peak variation of 2.1%, doubling the previous record reached back in the 1960s when a mean year on year growth of 1% was experienced. This trend is far from being reversed