(published on All Africa)
Rabat — Morocco on Monday (November 11th) announced plans to regularise the status of up to 40,000 illegal immigrants. The scheme is part of a new Moroccan migration policy introduced in September to comply with international agreements.
Priority will be given to 850 immigrants considered asylum-seekers by the UNHCR who will benefit from legal residency rights automatically. Six additional categories of foreign nationals are covered by the regularisation operation, which Morocco intends to run from January 1st to December 31st, 2014.
Foreign spouses of Moroccan citizens who can prove they have resided with their partners for at least two years, foreign couples who have lived together in Morocco consistently for at least four years and children from both of the above categories will benefit from the measure.
In addition, immigrants in possession of a valid work permit of at least two years’ duration, foreign nationals who can prove five years’ continuous residence in Morocco and other expats affected by a serious illness and on Moroccan soil prior to 31 December 2013 will also obtain legal residency rights.
A bureau will be set up in each prefecture and province across Morocco to receive and approve regularisation requests. A national appeal committee will also be created, with the involvement of the National Human Rights Advisory Council (CNDH).
In a press conference on Monday, the Moroccan expatriates and migration affairs minister, Anis Birou, stressed that this was a bold approach to tackling the various problems of migration experienced by Morocco for years.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Mohamed Hassad pointed out that the special operation to regularise immigrants’ status was part of a “political decision” taken by Morocco. “Morocco has made it very clear that it wants to deal with the problems of migration. Our country has between 25,000 and 40,000 illegal immigrants, most of whom have come from Sub-Saharan countries as well as from other countries around the world,” the interior minister noted.