Ways To Obtain French Citizenship
France’s citizenship laws are made up of a mixture of citizenship by birth and citizenship by descent, as well as the naturalisation of foreign residents. This means that the primary routes to French citizenship are as follows:
- Being born in France or a French overseas territory
- Having parents who are French
- Being adopted by a French parent
- Marrying a French citizen
- Naturalisation through French residency
- Ways To Obtain French Citizenship
- Citizenship By Birth
- Citizenship By Residence Or Naturalisation
- Citizenship By Adoption
- Citizenship By Descent
- French Citizenship Eligibility Criteria
- Documents & Other Requirements Needed For The Citizenship Application
- How To Apply For French Citizenship
- What Happens When The Application Is Successful?
- Citizenship Application Rejected
- How Can Total Law Help?
Citizenship By Birth
While France does have citizenship by birth, this doesn’t mean all children born in France or one of its overseas territories will automatically gain citizenship. A child obtains the citizenship of their parents, so if a child is born to foreign nationals, the children will be as well.
There are some exceptions, such as the following:
- If one of the child’s parents was born in France, regardless of their nationality.
- If one of the child’s parents was born in Algeria before its colonial independence.
- If the child would otherwise be considered stateless.
Should a child born in France or one of its overseas territories wish to apply for citizenship by birth, they will be required to meet specific requirements.
- A child between 13 and 16 years of age will need to have been living in France since the age of 8.
- Those between 16 and 18 years of age can claim citizenship if they have lived in France continuously since they were 11 years of age. The state will, otherwise, automatically apply for them when they turn 18 years of age.
- Young adults over 18 years of age will also be eligible for French citizenship when they have lived in France since six years of age, have attended a school in France, and have a sibling with French citizenship.
Citizenship By Residence Or Naturalisation
Most of the time, for those over the age of 18 who have legally lived in France for five years uninterrupted, it is possible to apply for citizenship by naturalisation. However, those who apply for this need to meet particular requirements, including:
- Knowledge of the French language to a minimum level of B1.
- Sufficient knowledge of French culture, history, and business.
- Have a stable and sufficient income to support one’s household and oneself.
- Has no criminal convictions that have resulted in an imprisonment of 6 months or more.
Depending on the specifics of the individual’s situation, the minimum period required for residence could be shorter than the 5-year standard wait.
An individual could have a minimum 2-year wait to obtain citizenship if the following applies to them:
- The individual graduated from a French higher education institution after two years of studying.
- The individual has completed an exceptional integration journey, such as via shorts or culture.
- The individual has contributed substantially to the financial, scientific, or social development of France via extraordinary skills, talents, and abilities.
Some individuals may not have a waiting period to obtain French citizenship. This applies to individuals such as the following:
- Those who are refugees.
- Those who have served in the French army.
- Those who joined the French army or an allied army during a time of war.
- Those who have rendered exceptional services to the French country.
Citizenship By Adoption
There are two ways to adopt a child in France: simple adoption and plenary adoption. The primary difference is that a simple adoption enables the child to stay linked with their biological family, whereas a plenary adoption severs all contact. This is not too different from an open or closed adoption.
French citizenship is only possible for plenary adoption. As per French law, plenary adopted children are considered to be birth children and thus have the same rights.
Citizenship By Descent
Children who have one French parent automatically get French citizenship. However, the parent must have ties with France for this to apply.
If the parent has lived outside of France for 40 years, the children are unlikely to obtain French citizenship. It is only possible to apply for French citizenship by descent when the child or their parents have had links with France for a minimum of 50 years. Alternatively, the applicant can demonstrate economic, cultural, familial, military, or professional ties to the country.
On the other hand, grandparents and parents of French children can claim citizenship by descent should they be over the age of 65 and have lived in France for a minimum of 25 years.
Applications in this sense cost €55 and have to be paid using tax stamps. These are bonds that prove that the individual paid these taxes.
Citizenship By Descent Eligibility
A person is eligible for French citizenship if they fit the following criteria:
- The child has at least one parent who was a French citizen at the time of their birth.
- The child must have been born in wedlock or must have been recognized by the French parent.
Citizenship By Marriage Eligibility
French citizenship via marriage is a legal way for a non-French spouse of a French citizen to obtain French nationality to be with their partner.
To be eligible for this, the applicant needs to meet eligibility criteria and provide all essential documentation to prove they are eligible. The eligibility criteria include:
- The spouse must have been married to a citizen of France for a minimum of four years.
- The spouse must have lived in France for at least three years since the marriage, and one of these years must have been continuous.
Citizenship By Naturalisation Eligibility
Those who have lived in France for a certain amount of time may be able to acquire French citizenship. However, individuals do need to meet eligibility criteria to become candidates for French nationality, such as:
- The individual must be at least 18 years of age.
- The individual must have lived in France for a minimum of five years.
- The individual must have a valid residence permit.
- The individual must have sufficient knowledge of French culture and language.
- The individual can have no criminal record and cannot be under investigation.
Citizenship By Birth Or Adoption Eligibility
Those who are adopted or eligible to become citizens through birth have a straightforward process to citizenship. The documents needed are very simple; however, there are specific timelines for these applications depending on the age and circumstances of the individual.
Those who are eligible must meet the following criteria:
- The individual was born, has been adopted in France, or at least one parent is a citizen of France.
- At least one of the parents has been residing in France for at least five years. However, if certain conditions apply, it can be less, such as if the parent were acting as a civil servant abroad.
Citizenship By Descent Requirements
An applicant for citizenship by descent will need to provide the following documents for their application to obtain French nationality:
- The French parent’s birth certificate.
- The birth certificate of the applicant.
- The marriage certificate of the applicant’s parents.
- Proof of the French parent’s citizenship.
- Evidence of the French parent’s residency if they are living abroad.
- Any other relevant documentation, such as a divorce decree or adoption papers, if this is applicable.
- The applicant cannot have received a conviction for any serious crime.
- The applicant must not have engaged in any activity that is harmful to the interests of France.
- The applicant has to renounce any other citizenship, if this applies, upon acquiring their French citizenship.
Citizenship By Marriage Requirements
Those who are married to a French citizen and wish to obtain French citizenship can apply if they are eligible; however, much documentation is required, so applicants should ensure they prepare the necessary documentation in advance. This includes the following:
- A valid passport or other form of ID.
- A passport photo.
- Two copies, signed, of the declaration form.
- The marriage certificate.
- Proof that documents the French Spouse’s citizenship.
- Evidence that shows the couple’s shared residency, such as utility bills or a rental contract.
- Proof of the spouse’s language proficiency. This could be a French language test or a diploma showing this.
- A criminal record certificate from the home country of the spouse and France.
- Evidence that shows any previous marriages were dissolved, if this is applicable.
- The spouse needs to demonstrate a sufficient level of integration into France”s culture and society.
- The spouse will be required to renounce any other citizenship they have, if this is applicable, upon the acquisition of their French citizenship.
Citizenship By Naturalization Requirements
Obtaining citizenship by naturalisation is for those who have lived in France for a certain amount of time (usually five years) on an applicable visa. The documents required to apply for French citizenship by naturalisation include the following:
- Proof of ID, such as an ID card or passport.
- Proof of residency in France, such as a rental contract or utility bills.
- French language proficiency certificate.
- Criminal record certificate from the applicant’s home country and France.
- Proof of integration into society in France, such as an employment contract, proof of volunteer work, or community involvement.
- The individual is required to renounce any other citizenship, if it is applicable, when they acquire their French citizenship.
- The application process can take up to two years to be processed.
Citizenship By Birth Or Adoption Requirements
Those who are looking to obtain citizenship by birth or adoption will need certain documents when they apply. This includes the following:
- Proof of ID, such as an ID card or passport.
- A birth certificate or decree for adoption.
- Proof of a parent’s French citizenship or their residency in French.
- If the individual is born outside of France, proof of the parent’s French nationality at the time of birth is needed.
- If the child is born in France to non-French parents, they can apply for French citizenship before the child turns 18 years of age.
- Should the child be born to French parents outside of France, they will be able to apply for citizenship until the child turns 18.
- Those who are adopted will have to be 16 before the adoption is finalised.
There will be specific requirements and criteria that will depend on the specific circumstances of the applicant and the specific route that they take to obtain citizenship. There are many different routes, but there are some typical eligibility criteria, and there is also a specific process to take when applying to be a French citizen.
Firstly, individuals have to be 18 years old and have lived in France for at least five years, unless they have completed higher education in France or have a spouse in France.
The steps to take to obtain French citizenship are as follows:
- Applicants need to collect the documents required for their citizenship application, depending on which route they are applying through. This can include residence permits, birth certificates, and proof of French language proficiency.
- Once all documents are collected, submit the application to the relevant French government office or embassy.
- Attend the interview that follows and take a civics test; a French language test is necessary.
- Await for the application to be reviewed and then approved by the French government; this can take a substantial amount of time.
- If successful, attend the citizenship ceremony and take an oath of allegiance to France.
What Happens When The Application Is Successful?
Those who become French citizens are entitled to live, work, and even vote in France permanently. French citizens also gain access to all public benefits offered by the government.
On top of this, having French citizenship means that you can live and work in other EU-based countries as well. In some situations, you may want to give up your nationality to obtain French citizenship. However, it is possible to have dual French citizenship.
The whole process of applying for citizenship can take a very long time, from 18 months to three years, depending on the type of application, documents, and route used.
Citizenship Application Rejected
If your citizenship application does not meet the necessary conditions, authorities can refuse the application; however, they may also postpone it if they feel that it is not appropriate at the time.
If this does occur, the applicant will be informed of the reasons behind this decision, and they will provide a deadline for the resubmission of an improved application.
However, if the application is refused, the applicant can make an appeal to the Ministry of the Interior. This appeal must be made within two months of the decision to refuse the application. The applicant is then able to take their appeal to the Administrative Court for a final review.
How Can Total Law Help?
Those who are applying for French citizenship can apply for this if they have immediate family born in France, are of French nationality, are married to a French citizen, have been a resident in France for five years, and more. French citizenship has many benefits, such as access to live and work in the European Union.
If you are planning to apply for French citizenship, having assistance from legal representation can help. Those who get their applications refused can get help from a lawyer in making an appeal. Here at Total Law, our team is well-versed in immigration law and acquiring citizenship.
Give our team a call to get help preparing documents for your application or for legal representation in appeals. We can help with any stage of your application. Call us today at +44 (0)333 305 9375 or message us online to get started with your citizenship application.
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