For foreign students, the collateral damage of online administration

In 2016, Diminga Warigue Ndiaye left his native Senegal to study economics in France, at the University of Bordeaux. After a flawless university career, she entered a master’s 2 in finance at the University of Paris-Nanterre this return, and landed a work-study contract in a financial institution. A pride for this 23-year-old student, to whom everything smiles. But at the end of October, everything collapsed. “I lost my work-study contract because my papers were no longer in order after October 31”, confides Diminga Warigue, a mixture of bitterness and weariness in his voice. She also saw her apprenticeship pay soar.

As every year, the young woman had however anticipated the expiration of her documents. On October 12, she had filed an online renewal application on the new ANEF-séjour platform (digital administration for foreigners in France). This dematerialized procedure, put in place by the government in mid-September as part of the Bienvenue en France plan, is intended to simplify obtaining a first permit after visa or renewing a residence permit. “Through this process, the students no longer have to make an appointment at the prefecture, or to travel to ensure that their application is submitted”, states the Ministry of the Interior.

Lack of receipt

It is however the beginning of an obstacle course for Diminga Warigue, as for many other foreign students. Unlike the physical procedures in the prefecture, the dematerialized procedure for renewing residence permits, once completed, does not systematically provide a receipt attesting to the legality of their situation.

The residence permit is essential for students to be able to take various steps

“The document that I have, and that many students have, mentions that it does not constitute proof of legality, she explains. We must wait for our file to be studied online to generate a certificate of extension of our residence permit, and this can take up to two months. “ This document is essential – if not vital – so that students can take various steps, sign a work-study contract, or keep their social rights.

On November 5, the student went to the Paris Prefecture at 7 a.m. to obtain a “Any document” in order to be able to justify its regularity. Like her, many foreign students are lining up. They won’t get anything. The same day, Diminga Warigue decides to launch an online petition to alert the public to the difficulties experienced by foreign students and the precariousness in which they find themselves. The text, which has collected 8,400 signatures to date, is accompanied by a Tweet to the Ministry of the Interior to denounce the impact of the dematerialized procedure. Very quickly, the testimonies of students followed by the hashtag # séjourétranger multiplied on social networks.

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