The main form of immigration continues to be family reunification (82,235 residence permits were allocated in this category in 2010), followed by student migration (17,819 residence permits for foreign students in 2010) and labor migration (19,251 work permits were given out in 2010). While family reunification is decreasing due to more restrictive conditions (compare “Current Developments”), student migration is gaining in significance. The influx of foreign students rose from about 50,000 people in the years 2007 and 2008, respectively, to about 60,000 people in 2010 and 2011. Chinese students constitute the largest group (since 2008 about 10,000 per year). The preferred students are those undergoing their master and doctoral studies, usually in the context of set programs and partnerships with foreign universities.
With regard to third country nationals, between 2007 and 2010 the most important sending countries were Algeria and Morocco. Each year about 25,000 new migrants came from each of these countries to France. Ranked third and fourth are China and Tunisia, respectively.
All in all, the migration balance (net immigration) has been continuously positive in recent years. In 2010, it was at about 75.000 people. Migration has thus contributed to the growth of the French population. Unlike other European countries such as Germany, however, France also has a higher number of births than deaths. The average birth rate in France in 2010 was about 2.01 births per woman (average in the EU-27 in 2010 was 1.59 births/woman). In this year the birth rate reached the highest level since the end of the Baby Boom in 1973.