This paper extends our knowledge on migrant selection and the impact migration policies have on it by studying migration from the French Overseas departments (DOM) to metropolitan France between 1960 and 2010. It analyses the effect changes in pro-migration policies have on selection based on education and socioeconomic background. Such comparison is critical: many migrants move before entering the labour market and policies may target aspirations rather than skills. Since the 1960s, migration programmes have incited DOM-mainland mobility, with a shift in range and framing in 1982. Using a representative survey conducted in the DOM (Migration Family Ageing, French Institute for Demographic Studies, 2010), we estimate duration models with a multilevel structure and assess the effect of education and parental occupation on the chances of migration with and without the aid of migration programmes. Results show that the profiles of migrants who benefit from the programmes and migrants who do not significantly differ. Migration programmes reshape selection, favouring negative selection before 1982 and positive selection (only based on education) afterwards. While research looking at the content of migration policies suggests they have become more selective rather than more restrictive, this paper confirms such thesis with a unique empirical assessment looking at selection in practice.