Obtain French Citizenship

An individual who has been lawfully living in France for at least five years can obtain French citizenship, provided that he or she is over 18 years and also complies with other requirements.

Acquiring this status is important for many foreign nationals who relocate to France for employment purposes or for opening a business. Individuals who plan to move alone or with their families need to continuously comply with the residence permit renewal conditions in order to be able to apply for French citizenship.

Submitting the application for citizenship is subject to certain conditions and the success of the request may be partly determined by the manner in which the applicant prepares the required documents (whether or not he or she submits all of the documents required by the French authorities). Those interested can rely on the specialized assistance provide for this purpose by our team of lawyers who specialize in French immigration.

How to get citizenship in France

There are four main ways under which an individual may apply for citizenship. Two of them are reserved based on birth particularities while the others are available to applicants who are in no manner previously tied to French descendance.

We present the following ways to acquire French citizenship:

  • by descent: the applicant has at least one parent who is a French citizen; alternatively, he may also apply in case of full adoption;
  • by birth: when the applicant was born in the country and one or both parents were also French;
  • by marriage: when a foreign national marries a French national he or she may apply for French citizenship by declaration after four years;
  • by naturalization: a common manner to obtain citizenship that is available to all other applicants (who are not married to a national or are not born to parents of French descent); one can apply for French citizenship by naturalization after having lived in the country lawfully and continuously for five years; lawfully living in the country implies having a valid residence permit in France at all times.

The application process is simplified for those who are able to apply for citizenship based on the right of soil (jus soli) – the situation in which they were born in France by at least one French parent and later relocated to another country by the will of their parents, for example, the United States. In this case, the birth certificate is the most important document to be provided.

For those who acquire nationality by descent, the process may be more complex, based on the fact that they need to be able to prove the fact that one or both parents were French at the time of the applicant’s birth. A key step in this process can be obtaining the French nationality certificate (certificat de nationalité française).

Conditions for applicants

A number of conditions apply for each of the four scenarios presented above. It is important to take note of these, this is why we suggest reaching out to one of our agents in order to obtain personalized information on how to get citizenship in France depending on your particular situation.

For example, in the case of citizenship by marriage, the following are important:

  1. Minimum consortium: the two individuals need to have been in a matrimonial relationship and cohabiting for five years and the foreign spouse needs to have lived in France continuously for three years at the time of the marriage;
  2. Joint presence: the married couple is to appear in person, together, to sign the documents with the French authorities;
  3. French language skills: the foreign spouse must have a good command of the French language, both written and spoken;
  4. Others: a fee is payable upon submitting the request and additional documents, such as the police record will be required.

A minimum of B1 written and oral skills are required by those who wish to apply for French citizenship. This is assessed according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

The evaluation period for the citizenship application can vary and individuals are advised to allow for a number of months before receiving an answer from the authorities. When working with our team, we will provide information on the period to be expected and assist you should the authorities demand additional documents or reject the application altogether.

According to the French Institute for Demographic Studies, the immigration flows were the following in 2017:

  • 10.3% of the immigrants were aged between 0-17 years;
  • 64.4% were aged 18-34;
  • Only 1.6% were aged 65 and over;
  • a total of 237,742 individuals applied for a first residence permit in France issued for one year or more in 2017.

If you need more information on how to get citizenship in France, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our team can provide complete assistance irrespective of nationality or one’s particular personal situation.