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Nationality and Brexit: opinion of the French ministry

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How can the British living in France acquire French nationality?

There is no specific procedure to facilitate access to French nationality for British nationals.

Depending on their situation, they may have recourse to the naturalization procedure by decree (article 21-15 et seq. Of the Civil Code) or to declarations of nationality in their capacity as spouse, ascendant or brother or sister of French people (articles 21- 2, 21-13-1, 21-13-2 of the Civil Code).

Can a minor child also acquire French nationality?

The procedure differs depending on whether or not the minor child was born on French territory.

If he was born in France to British parents, and subject to fulfilling the additional conditions required by law (five years of residence on French soil since the age of eleven), he may acquire French nationality by declaration provided for. in articles 21-7 (automatic acquisition at adulthood) or 21-11 of the Civil Code (early acquisition by declaration, at 13 years old upon declaration of the parents in the event of residence since the age of eight years, or at 16 years in the event of residence since the age of 11).

If he was not born in France, he can become French if one of his parents acquires French nationality (article 22-1 of the Civil Code).

Finally, article 21-22 of the Civil Code provides that “No one may be naturalized unless he has reached the age of eighteen. Nevertheless, naturalization can be granted to a minor child who has remained a foreigner even though one of his parents has acquired French nationality if he can prove that he resided in France with this parent during the five years preceding the filing of the demand “.

Will birth / marriage / death certificates have to be legalized or translated? And by whom? Should he be less than six months old? Should the original be provided or are copies sufficient?

The originals of civil status documents and their translation by a sworn translator are necessary to gain French nationality, but they do not need to be less than six months old. British civil status documents are exempt from legalization.

British nationals born and / or married in the former overseas colonies of the United Kingdom can produce reconstituted certificates. People born in Hong Kong (under the British crown until 1997) are also exempt from Chinese authentication.

What is the expected waiting period after submitting an application for access to French nationality?

In the case of nationality by declaration, the nationality agents have a period of six months from the date of the request to examine the file. The minister responsible for naturalization then has a period of one year to possibly refuse to register the declaration. Currently, this last period is about six months.

In the event of a request for access to French nationality by decree, the applicant legally has six months to put together his file. The minister responsible for naturalization then has a period of eighteen months from the constitution of a complete file – a receipt is issued to the applicant during the examination of the application – to make a decision. This period is reduced to twelve months when the applicant proves his habitual residence in France for at least ten years on the date of issuance of the receipt.

In practice, a period of 12 to 15 months, from the filing of the application until the offer of naturalization, is normal.

What is the minimum period of residence in France allowing access to French nationality?

In accordance with the provisions of article 21-17 of the Civil Code, applicants for French nationality must provide proof of habitual residence in France for the five years preceding the filing of their application. If they do not meet this condition, the request of the interested party is declared inadmissible, in application of article 21-17 of the Civil Code.

This five-year period is reduced to two years for foreigners who have successfully completed two years of higher education with a view to acquiring a diploma issued by a French university or higher education institution (article 21-18, 1 ° of the Civil Code).

The reduction of the minimum period of residence to two years also applies to foreigners who have rendered or can render to France important services by their abilities and talents (article 21-18, 2 ° of the Civil Code). The implementation of these provisions remains rare. This category may include artists, writers or intellectuals of international renown, scientists whose work is authoritative or very high level athletes.

Finally, the two-year period applies to foreigners who have an exceptional integration file, assessed with regard to the activities carried out or actions carried out in the civic, scientific, economic or sporting fields (article 21-18, 3 ° of Civil Code).

Articles 21-19 and 21-20 of the Civil Code provide for exemptions from training courses, which should not apply to UK nationals.

Anyone applying for French nationality in application of articles 21-13-1 of the Civil Code (declaration of nationality of French ascendant) must provide proof of their residence in France for 25 years. If the request is made pursuant to article 21-13-2 of the Civil Code (declaration of nationality of a brother or sister of a French national), the applicant must have resided there since the age of six.

How will the condition of legal residence be assessed for British nationals wishing to apply for French nationality after March 29, 2019?

After March 29, 2019, the condition of legality of stay for British nationals wishing to apply for French nationality will be assessed in the same way as for other foreign nationals.

Article 21-27, paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Civil Code provides that: “No one may acquire French nationality or be reinstated therein if he has (…) been the subject of an expulsion order not expressly revoked or repealed, or a ban on leaving French territory not fully implemented. The same applies to a person whose stay in France is irregular with regard to the laws and conventions relating to the stay of foreigners in France.

However, in accordance with the principle of legal certainty, transitional provisions are provided for British nationals who resided in France several years before March 29, 2019 and who could, as such, have claimed French nationality under the legislation prior to that date, could request access to French nationality without being prevented by reason of irregularity of their stay.

Should the British renounce their original nationality if they acquire French nationality?

France accepts the existence of dual or multiple nationalities. The same applies to the United Kingdom, so that a British national who acquires French nationality is not required to renounce his previous nationality.

Can the fact that a Briton residing in France has family ties in the United Kingdom prevent the acquisition of French nationality?

Under the terms of article 21-16 of the Civil Code: “No one may be naturalized if he does not have his residence in France at the time of signing the decree of naturalization. Likewise, articles 21-13-1 and 21-13-2 of the Civil Code require the applicant to have his residence in France.

To be considered as having his residence in France, the applicant must have fixed there in a stable manner the “center of his material interests and his family ties” (CE, Section, February 28, 1986, Minister of Social Affairs and National Solidarity v. Bouhanna, 57464 and Section, same date, Akhras, 50277).

The presence abroad of the spouse and minor children makes the request inadmissible in principle. However, the mere fact that a spouse has his or her habitual residence abroad does not exempt the Minister from examining whether the applicant fulfills the residence condition or not, taking into account certain special circumstances which he may be able. to justify (CE, 13/10/2006, M. Saidouni, n ° 282099). The authority responsible for deciding on an application must carry out a comprehensive examination and take into account the particular circumstances of the applicant’s situation.

Can the fact that a Briton residing in France derives his income from a foreign country prevent the acquisition of French nationality?

Within the meaning of articles 21-16 and 21-13-2 of the Civil Code, the request is admissible as long as the interested party has in France the center of his family ties and of his material interests, that is to say that he or she must have stable and sufficient personal income from French sources.

This income can come from various sources: work, employee or not, retirement pension, movable or real estate assets.

It is generally accepted that the applicant does not have his residence in France, within the meaning of case law, if he has income mainly of foreign origin, whether in the form of salaries, financial or real estate investments. assets.

The stability criterion is essential for the request to be admissible. This stability is established by factors such as the work of the spouse, the education of children in France or the possession of real estate in France.

Can the fact that a Briton residing in France works in Switzerland or Monaco prevent the acquisition of French nationality?

Switzerland

The simple fact that a candidate works as a civil servant in an international institution having its seat in Switzerland would not prevent his naturalization if other elements prove that he has a stable family life established in France for several years (children attending school etc. ), that he has acquired goods, that he has paid taxes in France, that he has received income paid into an account opened in France, etc.

It is the same for an applicant “frontier worker” working within a company whose head office is located in Switzerland, subject to the production of a documentary evidence (see above) establishing that the applicant has fixed in France in a stable way the seat of his family and professional interests.

The Principality of Monaco

Article 65 of decree n ° 93-1362 of December 30, 1993 provides that “Residence in the Principality of Monaco is assimilated to residence in France within the meaning of article 21-26 of the Civil Code”. The fact that a candidate works in Monaco is therefore not discriminatory in the context of a request for access to French nationality.

How can a British citizen residing in the United Kingdom apply for French nationality?

As part of the acquisition of French nationality by declaration, marriage with a French spouse, for at least four years, allows a British resident in the United Kingdom to apply for French nationality (article 21-2 of the Civil Code) .

In the context of the acquisition of French nationality by decision of the public authority (naturalization): a British resident in the United Kingdom can acquire French nationality provided he can prove that he has a status equivalent to [French] residence (article 21-26 of the Civil Code).

Under the terms of this article, “The following are assimilated to residence in France when this residence is a condition for acquiring French nationality: 1 ° The residence outside France of a foreigner who exercises a professional activity for the public sector or private sector on behalf of the French State or for an organization whose activity is of particular interest to the French economy or culture ”.

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