Families threatened with deportation under new French immigration laws have begun attempts to win the right to stay in the country.

They are attending a series of individual interviews with authorities to argue their cases.

France's centre-right government had granted an amnesty to children to remain in the country until this month, the end of the school year.

Thousands who have been in France illegally risk deportation.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has rejected calls for immigrants to be granted visas en masse.

Last chance

In the French capital on Tuesday the police headquarters will begin staging the first of nearly 2,000 interviews scheduled with immigrant families.

Elsewhere in France the authorities have already started the process.

Venissieux near Lyon
Many immigrants in French suburbs come from North Africa
For many it represents the last chance to attain resident status.

In Paris, one woman from a support group set up to help the immigrants said one family she knew had been left exhausted by their ongoing fight to remain in the country.

The weekend saw demonstrations against the new measures, which mean that no longer will people who have been in France illegally for several years gain the automatic right to stay.

A mediator appointed by the government to facilitate the process of granting visas to the parents of foreign children, has said it is possible that families who fail to meet the necessary criteria will be deported.

Mr Sarkozy has confirmed that not everyone will be granted resident permits.