French Citizenship by Descent: Eligibility & Application Process

You can be eligible for French citizenship through your French ancestors. Citizenship by descent, also known as French citizenship by filiation or ancestry, helps individuals gain citizenship based on their family lineage.

To ease the process of applying for French citizenship by descent, you need the help of qualified legal representatives to take you through the application and provide advice. Our team at Total Law is always ready to help you with such issues. Contact us at +44 (0)333 305 9375 or chat with us online, and we will walk you through the journey of becoming a French citizen.

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    French Citizenship By Descent Overview

    Having a direct line ancestor who is or was a French national allows you to claim your French nationality. If you are a first-generation descendant of a French national, you can demonstrate your family ties and obtain citizenship.

    The French citizenship by filiation program only allows people to claim citizenship ‘one generation back.’ This means you can only apply for French citizenship if your parents were French nationals.

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      Eligibility For French Citizenship By Descent

      To be eligible for French citizenship by descent, you need to:

      • Have a direct line ancestor with French citizenship. At least one parent should have been a French citizen during your birth
      • Have been born in wedlock or recognized by the French parent
      • Not have been convicted of a serious crime
      • Not have engaged in activities that are harmful to France
      • Renounce any other citizenship after becoming a French citizen

      The possession of d’état de Français, which means ‘contract with France,’ is also an eligibility requirement. If neither you nor your parents have had any contact with France for 50 years and live outside France, you are ineligible to receive citizenship.

      France Citizenship by Descent Program Application Process

      The application process for French citizenship by descent is judiciary. This means the dossier is physically filled to the Paris Court “Tribunal Judiciaire de Paris – Pole de la nationalité française”.

      The applicant should obtain the HLG’s Assessment Form and the necessary documents and send copies to the embassy or French consulate.

      If your application is approved, you will be invited to attend a ceremony where you will take an oath of loyalty to France. After the ceremony, you will be an official French citizen.

      The French government takes between 1-2 years to process these applications. For instance, if you apply on 10th July 2023, you should have received a decision in 6 months, meaning 10th January 2024. However, this period can be extended twice, and a final decision on the application may be made available by 10th January 2025.

      Application Requirements Of The French Citizenship By Descent

      When applying for French citizenship, you are applying for a certificate of French nationality. This is an official document that you will use to prove you are a French citizen.

      Contact the Department of Nationality for French People Born and Established Outside of France to obtain the document.

      Submit your application by presenting these documents:

      • Proof of identity, e.g., passport
      • Proof of residence- utility bill
      • Applicant’s birth certificate copy showing the parent-child relationship with the French parent in question
      • Parent(s) birth certificate copy
      • Parent’s marriage certificate if married, or a certificate proving parentage

      All applications need to be submitted in person. However, there are special circumstances where some courts accept paperwork through mail, like if an applicant cannot travel.

      Once you have proven your citizenship, you can apply for a passport.

      If your application gets rejected, you can appeal by directly contacting the Ministry of Justice.

      The application fee is €55. This is paid through a tax stamp, usually attached to the application letter. If you live in France, you can buy the stamp online or in a tobacco store.
      If you buy it online, it will be sent to you through SMS or email. You should then download it and attach it to your application.

      The electronic stamp is valid 12 months after purchase, so holders must complete the application and acquire the stamp only when all the documents are in order. However, you can still request a refund online 18 months after its purchase if you did not use it.

      If you make your application while abroad, you will make the payment to the consulate. You can pay in cash, credit card, wire transfer, or check. Check the consulate’s website to confirm which payment method is acceptable.

      Common Reasons For Application Rejections & How to Avoid Them

      Application rejections can occur for various reasons, and it is important to understand the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them.

      Insufficient Documentation

      Applicants who do not provide all the necessary documents will have their applications rejected. Also, providing false information can result in a rejection.

      To avoid this, gather all the necessary documents and present accurate information. If you do not have some documents, consult the relevant authorities or genealogy researchers to obtain them.

      Discrepancies in Dates and Names

      Birthdates and names should be similar in all the documents you present. Discrepancies can raise doubts about your authenticity to claim French citizenship.

      To avoid being a victim, carefully review and cross-check all the documents before submission and ensure the dates and names are consistent. If there are discrepancies in some, provide supplementary evidence or explanations to support your claim.

      Incomplete Lineage

      If the French authorities fail to establish a direct bloodline to a French ancestor, they may reject your application. This mostly happens if you omit a generation or family member when applying.

      To avoid this, you should research and document your family tree. Obtain the relevant birth and marriage certificates to create a complete and verifiable lineage.

      Other Routes to Obtain French Citizenship

      In addition to ancestry, individuals can also obtain French citizenship by marriage, naturalization, birth, or adoption.

      French Citizenship by Marriage

      This is a legal way for non-French spouses of French citizens to acquire French citizenship.

      To be eligible for French citizenship by marriage, the spouse should:

      • Have been married to a French citizen for more than four years
      • Have lived in France for at least three years since the marriage, with at least one continuous year

      The required documents during application are:

      • Valid passport or any other identification document
      • Marriage certificate
      • Two signed copies of a declaration form
      • Proof that the spouse is proficient in French
      • Proof that the spouse is a French national
      • Proof that the couple share a residence
      • Criminal record certificate from France and the spouse’s home country
      • Proof that previous marriages were dissolved (if applicable)

      Other requirements for the applying spouse include:

      • Demonstration of integration into French culture and society
      • Renunciation of any other citizenship after acquiring French citizenship

      French Citizenship by Naturalization

      French citizenship by naturalization is the process by which non-French residents obtain French citizenship because they have lived in France for a while.

      To obtain French citizenship by naturalization, individuals should:

      • Be at least 18 years
      • Have lived in France for at least five years
      • Have a valid residence permit
      • Have sufficient knowledge of French culture and language
      • Not have a criminal record or be under investigation

      The required documents for the application are:

      • Proof of identity, e.g., ID card or passport
      • Proof of residence in France
      • Proof of French language proficiency
      • Criminal record certificate from France and home country
      • Proof of integration with French society

      Other requirements for the applicant are:

      • Renunciation of any other citizenship after obtaining French citizenship

      French Citizenship by Birth or Adoption

      French citizenship by birth or adoption is granted to individuals born or adopted in France or by one French parent. This process is straightforward and effortless compared to other methods of acquiring citizenship.

      Children born in France to non-French parents can apply for French citizenship before turning 18. However, children born outside France by non-French parents have to wait until the child turns 18.

      For a child to apply for French citizenship by adoption, the parents must have finalized the adoption before the child clocks 16.

      The eligibility criteria to acquire French citizenship by birth or adoption are:

      • Born or adopted in France, or at least one parent is a French citizen
      • At least one parent should have resided in France for at least five years. (This period can be less in some conditions, like if a parent is a civil servant abroad)

      The required documents for the application are:

      • Proof of identity, e.g., ID card or passport
      • Birth certificate or decree of adoption
      • Proof that parents are French citizens or residents
      • Proof of parent’s French nationality during birth if born outside France
      • Proof of parent’s French citizenship or residency in France

      French Residency by Investment

      France does not have the French Golden Visa or any other direct citizenship by investment, but they have the French Tech Visa, which gives individuals access to the same opportunities.

      The purpose of the French Tech Visa program is to attract foreign tech talent to France. This fast-track visa scheme allows qualified individuals to come and work in the tech industry in France.

      The program is part of the larger French Tech initiative, which aims to develop the French tech ecosystem and make France a global leader in technology innovation.

      The French Tech Visa grants applicants a four-year renewable residence permit. This permit allows them to live and work in France. Other benefits associated with the program include access to networking events, co-working spaces, and incubators.

      The French Tech Visa is available to:

      • Employees of start-ups that are part of one of the French Tech Hubs
      • Employees of scale-ups that the French Tech Mission selects
      • Entrepreneurs and investors who have projects approved by the French Tech Mission

      How Can Total Law Help?

      Obtaining French citizenship through ancestry is a meaningful method of connecting with your heritage and enjoying the benefits of being a French citizen. By conducting thorough research and providing the necessary documents, you will increase your chances of a successful application.

      Still, it is important to carefully consider your options and seek professional guidance before embarking on the journey to become a French citizen. Total Law comprises a team of immigration lawyers to guide you through every step of your journey towards becoming a French citizen.

      We have a deep knowledge of French law and a proven track record of successful cases, so we should be your trusted partner in achieving your dream of French citizenship through ancestry. We will help you through the application process and ensure it is thorough, compelling, and accurate. We also understand the challenges that may arise during the process, and we can help you avoid these common pitfalls that lead to rejections.

      Our tailored and personalized solutions suit your needs regardless of whether you are dealing with missing documents, complex family histories, or document discrepancies. We will also work closely with you to develop a strategy addressing your circumstances.

      Contact us today at +44 (0)333 305 9375 or chat with us online to schedule a consultation and let us turn your dream of becoming a French citizen into a reality.

      Our team has helped with numerous successful immigration applications. Let's help with yours too. Contact Us

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                  Related pages for your continued reading.

                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  Yes, colonial subjects living in French colonies are considered French citizens as long as they adopt French customs and culture. This also means they have the rights and duties of French citizens.

                  Huguenots were French Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who followed what John Calvin, a theologist, taught. These protestants were not allowed to practice their religion within towns or at night. They did not have the right to own any firearms.