Paris, France

The Key To France: Not All Roads Lead to Paris

France terre d'asile

September 30, 2010

Housing and employment opportunities help refugees discover new destinations across the nation's urban landscape

When Anouka arrived in France as a refugee, she, like most newcomers to France went to live in metropolitan Paris.

Immigrants and refugees naturally tend to concentrate in urban centres.

The reason?

City centres such as Paris provide more of a shared cultural community and in the short term, seem to offer more employment and resource opportunities.

Currently, more than 40% of all French immigrants live in the Paris metropolitan area. This includes 180,000 asylum seekers and refugees granted humanitarian protection. Paris is also home to 41% of asylum seekers and 51% of all refugees living in France.

In general, these immigrants tend to be concentrated in the outer margins or banlieue of the city.

The result is a high population density that compounds the difficulties of settlement, making it more difficult to find housing and employment. It also prevents the host community from being able to fully benefit from the skills and talents of these newcomers.

The goal of the Key To France project is to address this imbalance.

By encouraging immigrants to settle in geographic areas with skills shortages and more accessible housing, newcomers have greater access to housing and employment opportunities. The Key to France mobility projects allow migrants who previously encountered difficulties integrating into the host society to have an increased opportunity to reach a stable social, familial and professional situation. Having a stable job and their own flat also contributes to better recognition and relationships with the host society.

Encouraging newcomers to settle outside of Paris is also part of the solution to the employment needs being experienced in areas with a scarcity of local workforce. Places such as Chaumont, Melun and Saint Denis that have declining working age populations and that are in need of the skills that immigrants, like Anouka can provide.

The Key to France project was launched in 2004, by France Terre d’Asile a non-governmental organization advocating the rights of migrants since 1971. Today, there are 31 centres around the country providing accommodation and counselling for asylum seekers and helping them to find the regions where their skills are most needed.

Unique to the Key to France project is the holistic and personalised approach that they take to settlement.

After an interview to assess the candidates current situation, the programme staff compile an individual mobility plan for the participant.

Next, participants learn about the region where their skills are needed and receive contacts for employment and housing opportunities. Some participants may also be directed to professional training to further their career prospects.

The process of relocation takes 4 -5 months on average, so Terre d’aisle also provides a loan or aid to participants to help with their move.

Post arrival staff will follow up to check on their adjustments into their new homes and communities.


Since the beginning, more than 500 newcomers have completed their mobility plan and started the process of making smaller cities into new gateways for immigrants and refugees throughout France.

With each person that is resettled, there is the opportunity to share the benefits of immigration in previously overlooked towns and cities.

Making it Work for You:

  • Settlement does not happen in a vacuum. Employment outcomes are strongest when skills and opportunities are balanced by affordable housing and access to institutions and community services
  • Preparing clients for change also prepares them for success. Are there other kinds of information or services that you can share to prepare your clients for change?
  • Like settlement, success in the workplace also benefits from the successful social integration of the individual and his/her family to new homes and neighbourhoods.
  • As an employer, what can you do to facilitate this process?


Pour cette bonne idée, contacter:

Fatiha MLATI, France terre d’asile
02, rue Jules Cloquet
Paris, France,
75 018
01 53 06 64 29