- French Citizenship By Descent (Le Droit de Sang): An Overview
- Eligibility Criteria For French Citizenship By Descent
- Application Requirements for French Citizenship By Descent
- France Citizenship By Descent Application Process
- Other Ways To Obtain Citizenship in France
- Citizenship Application Mistakes to Avoid
- How Total Law Can Help
- Frequently Asked Questions
French Citizenship By Descent (Le Droit de Sang): An Overview
France’s Civil Code allows first-generation descendants of French nationals to obtain citizenship by demonstrating cultural, economic, military, professional, or family ties to France. It grants individuals born to at least one French parent the right to claim French nationality (jus sanguinis), irrespective of their country of birth and residence.
France’s citizenship by descent program only allows citizenship claims through direct ancestry (one generation back). However, you can still obtain French nationality through your French grandparents. You can do so if:
- Your grandparent was a French citizen at the time of your parent(s) birth outside France, and their birth was registered with the French Consular authorities in their country of residence
- Your grandparents did not renounce their French citizenships and maintained connections with France through consular registrations and passport renewals.
Where your parent(s) birth was unregistered with the French government authorities, they must obtain their Certificate of French Nationality (CNF) before you can apply for yours.
Eligibility Criteria For French Citizenship By Descent
According to French nationality laws, a child born to at least one French parent is French, whether born in France or abroad. Hence, persons born in France and its overseas territories to at least one French parent are eligible for French citizenship.
Those born abroad must meet the following criteria to be eligible for French citizenship.
- At least one of your parents must be a French citizen at the time of your birth.
- If your parents were unmarried, your French parent must recognize your birth and accept parentage. The parent-child relationship must have been established when you were a minor. You must provide supporting documentation to prove this during your application.
- Your parent(s) must have maintained connections to France through passport renewals, consular registrations, or voter registrations.
- If you were fully adopted as a minor by a French national and the adoption took place in France, you automatically take on the French nationality of your adopted parents.
The French citizenship by ancestry program requires that previous generations before you are registered as citizens before you can claim citizenship by descent. This implies that if your grandparents are French citizens, but your parent is not a registered citizen yet, your parent must obtain their citizenship before you can apply for yours.
Note that you’re ineligible for French citizenship by descent if you or your family have lived outside of France and have had no contact with France or consular authorities (“possession d’état de Français) for over 50 years.
Application Requirements for French Citizenship By Descent
The burden of proving your French descent is on you when applying for citizenship by descent. The French authorities will decide on your application based on the evidence you provide. Therefore, your supporting evidence must be genuine and substantial.
You must provide the following supporting documentation when applying for French citizenship by descent.
- Your passport as a proof of identity.
- Proof of residence.
- Your birth certificate (to prove the parent-child relationship).
- A copy of your French parent’s birth certificate.
- Proof of your parent’s French nationality. It could be their passport, national ID card, consular registration card, French nationality certificate, voter card, or military booklet.
- Your parents’ marriage certificate.
- Proof of recognition and parentage from the French parent if your parents did not marry.
- Complete adoption papers if you were adopted.
You must attach certified French translations of documents in a foreign language.
Other requirements include:
- You must have no serious past criminal convictions.
- You must have never been engaged in any activity harmful to France’s interests.
- Upon acquiring French citizenship, you must renounce any other citizenship (if required).
Applications for French citizenship by descent are made to the Department of Nationality for French People Born and Established Outside of France in French Consulates worldwide. You must submit this application in person.
The steps to claiming your French citizenship are as follows:
- Carry out an eligibility check to confirm your eligibility for citizenship by descent.
- Gather relevant supporting documentation proving you qualify to claim French nationality.
- Submit your application and supporting evidence to the Department of Nationality for French People Born and Established Outside of France at the French consulate in your country of residence.
- Once you submit your application and all requested supporting documents, you’ll receive an email acknowledging the receipt of your request for a certificate of French nationality.
- Wait for a decision: French authorities will review your application and supporting documents before deciding on your application. They’ll contact you if they need further supporting evidence.
If your application is approved, you’ll be issued a certificate of French nationality. It is an official document proving your French nationality, with which you can obtain a French national identity card and a French passport. The application process usually takes four to six months.
France Citizenship Application Fees
France citizenship application generally requires a processing fee of €55 paid in tax stamps. You’re to pay the fee to the French consulate closest to you if you’re submitting your application abroad.
Appealing a Rejected Application
If your application is rejected or you do not get a response after the prescribed time (equal to a rejection), you can file an appeal within six months of receiving the rejection notice. You will need legal representation to file the appeal. You can address the request to a judicial court (contentious appeal) or the Ministry of Justice (hierarchical appeal).
If you do not qualify for French citizenship by descent, there are different options for obtaining French citizenship. Other ways to get citizenship in France include:
- Citizenship by Ascendency
- Citizenship by Marriage
Each citizenship route has its specific eligibility criteria and requirements. The correct citizenship route for you depends on your situation.
France Citizenship By Ascendency
A declaration of citizenship by ascendency is the reverse of citizenship by descent. It is for persons 65 years or older who have a French direct descendant (child or grandchild) and want to obtain French citizenship. To be eligible for citizenship by ascendency:
- You must be 65 years or older.
- You must have a French direct descendant (child, grandchild, or great-grandchild).
- You must have a valid residence permit and have lived continuously in France for at least 25 years.
- You must be residing in France at the time of your citizenship application.
- You must have no past criminal conviction.
- You must have no previous France expulsion order or a current prohibition order.
When applying for citizenship by ascendancy, you must provide supporting documents proving your identity, age, relationship with your French descendant, continuous residence in France, and the French nationality of your child or grandchild. If you have other minor children, you can add them to your application.
Also known as citizenship by decree, naturalization allows foreign individuals who have lived in France for at least five years to become French citizens.
French citizenship by naturalization is considered an “honor” and not a right. Therefore, your application can be rejected. If you meet the requirements, pass the interview, and your application is approved, you’ll be issued an official “decree of French nationality.”
To be eligible for citizenship by naturalization in France, you must meet the following requirements.
- You must be 18 years or older.
- You must have a valid residence permit.
- You must have lived in France for at least five years.
- You must be resident in France at the time of your naturalization application.
- You must be proficient in speaking and writing French.
- You must prove that you’re able to support yourself financially in France.
- You must demonstrate sufficient integration and assimilation into French society and an understanding of French history and culture. Immigration authorities will test your integration and assimilation of French culture during your citizenship interview.
- You must have no past criminal convictions.
If you have minor children living with you in France, you can include their names in your naturalization request, and they’ll be naturalized with you.
France Citizenship By Marriage
You can acquire French citizenship by declaration if you’re married to a French spouse. Your eligibility depends on the length of your marriage and your living arrangement. To qualify for citizenship by marriage:
- Your spouse must have been a French national at the time of your marriage.
- You must have been married to your French spouse for at least four years.
- You must have been continuously living with your spouse since your marriage.
- Your marriage must have been documented in the civil records of the French embassy or consulate in your country of residence if you were married abroad.
- You must hold a valid “titre de séjour” (residence permit) at the time of your citizenship application.
- You must be proficient in speaking, reading, and writing French.
- You must not have a previous expulsion order or a current prohibition order from France.
- You must have no previous criminal conviction.
If you lived outside France for some time during your marriage and your spouse did not register with the French consulate, your qualifying duration of marriage will be five years instead of four.
Citizenship Application Mistakes to Avoid
When applying for citizenship in France, seemingly small mistakes can delay your application or cause the French authorities to reject your application, denying you citizenship. They include:
- Incorrect details on your application form: Ensure you correctly fill in your identity information, such as name, date of birth, and passport number on your application. You should write your name and date of birth in the exact spelling and order as in your official documents.
- Incomplete supporting documentation: Insufficient supporting evidence can cause French authorities to reject your claims to citizenship. It’s best to start gathering your documents months before submitting your application to ensure you don’t omit anything.
- Poor language proficiency: If your citizenship routes require a language test, ensure you prepare adequately to meet the required French language proficiency.
- Failure to disclose criminal history: if required, you must state your accurate criminal history in your application and prepare to defend any criminal record during your interview. Non-disclosure or inaccurate disclosure of criminal history will result in a rejection of your application.
Citizenship by descent is a more straightforward pathway to acquiring French citizenship than naturalization and other routes. However, you must sufficiently prove that you are of French descent and your family has active ties to France. And this can be particularly difficult if your ancestors emigrated from France several generations before you. Therefore, you’ll need the help of immigration experts to prove your French ancestry.
Total Law’s French immigration lawyers can assist you with your citizenship application. We’ll help you analyze your family history to verify your eligibility and gather the required supporting documents. We’ll also ensure your application is error-free to prevent delays or rejection.
We are available to help you in person or over the phone. Call us at +1 844 290 6312 or contact us online for immediate assistance.
Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.
Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Fast Track Package
Premium application service that ensures your visa application is submitted to meet your deadline.
Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal. We will represent you in any case.
The Advice Package
During this untimed Advice Session with our professional immigration lawyers in London, you will receive our comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.
The Application Package
With our Application Package, your dedicated immigration lawyer will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your caseworker will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.
The Fast Track Package
Our Fast-Track Application Package is a premium service for those who need to submit their application in time with their deadlines. Your case will become a top priority for our lawyers and you will benefit from our highest-quality services.
The Appeal Package
By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.
Yes, a US citizen can become a French citizen if they have a French parent, spouse, child, or grandchild.
You can get French citizenship if you have French ancestry, provided your French ancestors, including your parents, maintained their connection to France.
Citizenship by descent application process is relatively straightforward once you can prove your ancestry. The application process takes between four months and six months.
French citizenship by descent has no language requirements.
You can retain your original citizenship if you become a French citizen, as France allows dual citizenship.