France should offer British expats "immediate French citizenship for those that seek it"

Patrick Weil suggests that France should offer British expats "immediate French citizenship for those that seek it"

Patrick Weil is a French historian and political scientist. He is a research fellow at CNRS, at the Centre for the social history of the 20th century at the University of Paris 1. He studies the history of immigration in France.

If he had more actual power this might be of some value. Whether his influence is strong enough remains to be seen. However, if it goes his way I'd take it as taking French does not necessitate relinquishing British. I'd need it to be rather easier than the present route though as building the currently required dossier and passing the language test are significant hurdles.

I see there are comments that are very sympathetic to the idea. When Weil writes: "En France, nombreux sont les Britanniques qui ont fait revivre des villages vidés de leur population d’origine, qui ont voté dans nos élections municipales et, parfois, sont élus dans nos conseils municipaux, animent notre vie locale. A tous ceux qui ont un attachement à la France, on peut et il faut dire « welcome ». Bienvenue immédiatement, si vous le souhaitez, dans la nationalité française." he echoes what friends & neighbours of mine have been saying for years now. Those same friends & neighbours have been very understanding & sad at what's going on.

Posibly, if rural mayors supported Weil, it could get somewhere.

My application went in last June - two month delay for health reasons & it's now, I'd guess, being studied in Paris ....

I read that translations of all certificates won't be necessary in future so that's a step in the right direction. I've never needed translations for any other administrative procedure for which I've needed to produce birth and marriage certificates so it seems excessive to need them for a naturalisation application.

I think the language test is the aspect that many worry about. Maybe to make it easier for those already here, they'll reduce the level required to A1, which is what non EU citizens need to get a permanent resident card?

I can't see the suggestion of allowing naturalisation after a year of residence going down well - though as part of the exit arrangements they might allow permanent residency to be granted to those who have already been here for over a year.

"I think the language test is the aspect that many worry about. Maybe to make it easier for those already here, they'll reduce the level required to A1, which is what non EU citizens need to get a permanent resident card?"

But why would this be an issue? If somebody meets A1 but no higher, why not just go for the permanent resident card? I don't see any reason for people feeling they have to apply for citizenship but panicking in case they're turned down, and I see even less any argument for ironing out the criteria for citizenship to make them the same as the criteria for permanent residence. For most people, permanent residence is all they want, they don't "need" citizenship. People really are worrying too much over this, they seem to have turned citizenship into some kind of holy grail.

So far as I can see, a language test is not required for a 'UE Titre de Sejour' - the residence card for Europeans. We are still Europeans for at least two years ahead, possibly longer. In addition the French give the right to the European carte to citizens of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichenstein. So we'll likely continue to qualify as 'Europeans' when not EU citizens if and when Britain does leave. France has not indicated that it will withdraw the right to have one of these from Brits.

You do need French language to obtain Citizenship / Nationality and I read somewhere that the skill level for older people is being lowered, likely to a straightforward interview in which it is assessed whether you can make yourself understood and you can understand sufficiently what is being said to you. (Sorry, I haven't kept the reference to where I got this from). You'll only get a French passport, right to vote fully and serve on local councils etc. by adopting French nationality.

But why do you need Citizenship unless you really want to become a 'true' French person, in which case your language skills are probably well on the way already. While Britain is still in the EU we have the right to be here regardless, any residents from almost anywhere for the respective qualifying period or more have the right to permanent residence. Why would that not be enough?

An EU carte de sejour becomes irrelevant once the UK leaves the EU so there isn't much point in going for one of those at the moment and it isn't possible to go for the non EU card until we do actually leave. The terms and requirements for the non EU card are different to those for the EU card, the requirement to prove language proficency being one of the differences. Nationality would give you rights regardless and can be applied for now, so that's why many people are going for it.

Personally I don't think I'd get nationality easily under the current rules but my children would and I'm encouraging them to go for it as soon as they can. One can now and he was intending to do it anyway, another can next year and will as he doesn't want to risk losing the right to go to university here and my youngest would get it if I got it or if I manage to stay here for another four years I can claim it for him when he's thirteen as he was born here.

Personally I would be happy with a permanent resident's card (which I'm entitled to now under EU rules but not under non EU rules) when the time comes as if I ever do leave the country to live elsewhere at this stage of my life then I can only see it being a permanent move. I'd prefer my chidren to go for nationality as they are settled in France and see it as their home but for instance, if they wanted to go and work abroad for a period then even under the EU rules they would lose their permanent resident status after a couple of years away. If the UK leaves the EU then it may become difficult for them to come back. I'd like them to have the freedom to come and go.

Rhys the language test for over 60s isn't required but their level of French is still assessed at the interview stage.

As a citizen of an EU country we have the right to permanent residence after five years of legal residence. As a citizen of a non EU country it's ten years. Permanent resident status is lost if you leave the country for two years or more. Nationality can be applied for by anyone after five years of legal residence and you never lose the right to permanent residence. For people who have been here between five and ten years at the time of an exit, nationality could be their best bet of being secure here.

Obviously we don't know what will be negotiated for those of us already here (or there) but as it stands at the moment, the above is what I see as being relevant in the event of nothing being agreed for us and us all just being suddenly classed as non EU citizens.

As I have lived in France for sixteen years, a fully paid up taxpayer, a home owner and a contributor to the French economy, I feel I should be able to live out my days here. After all, I'm 76: a bit old to start again, back in UK. Eh what!

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Just two years younger than you, Richard, I feel the same - Eh What?. In particular:-

1. If the UK govt. treats EU citizens in the UK badly (I think T. May suggested something on these lines -that EU immigrants' rights of residence won't be guaranteed as they're part of Brexit negotiations), will the French govt. have to see us in the same light? i.e. as "bargaining chips"?

2. When the UK leaves the EU, what will happen to our state pensions? The Winter Fuel Payment, which I thought was protected by EU rules, has gone (but last I heard a challenge was underway). Without EU rules to protect us, will the UK govt. be able to freeze our pension as it does in other countries like Australia?

3. Health cover. Would the UK still cover the basic? If not, where will we be?

As far as I can tell no one can answer any of these questions one way or the other, so I think I am right to worry. I applied for nationality last year, but even if they accept me that still wouldn't protect me from 2. & 3.

I’m now nearly 84. At the end of the month I will be. My passport expired a while back. I’m not going far other than the Incinerator. Meanwhile I’m still enjoying the village I live in, and our Maire likes me, so I’ll try and hang on a while.


Good for you Richard!

Very off-topic, but do you by any chance have a son called Simon who’s a professional photographer, now living in Normandy?

Simon is my son, living in Normandy. He is Firehorse Photography.

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Small world!! I am also a photographer and have known Simon for 15+ years - we were part of the same wedding photographers’ group when he was still in the UK!

Hope you are keeping well…

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