Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July 2014, 15:15 GMT

France: Whether a foreign national who is married to a French citizen can obtain French nationality; what kind of "declaration" a foreign national is required to make; whether this declaration can be submitted outside France; reasons for which the French government could refuse such a declaration; the criteria for determining the reasons of inadmissibility or of failure to assimilate for which the French government could refuse such a declaration (2003-December 2004)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 2 December 2004
Citation / Document Symbol FRA43177.FE
Reference 1
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, France: Whether a foreign national who is married to a French citizen can obtain French nationality; what kind of "declaration" a foreign national is required to make; whether this declaration can be submitted outside France; reasons for which the French government could refuse such a declaration; the criteria for determining the reasons of inadmissibility or of failure to assimilate for which the French government could refuse such a declaration (2003-December 2004), 2 December 2004, FRA43177.FE, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/42df60e711.html [accessed 30 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Methods and requirements for obtaining French nationality

A consular chargé d'affaires at the Embassy of France in Ottawa provided the following information during a 1 December 2004 telephone interview.

A person who is married to a French citizen and who wants to obtain French nationality can do so by one of two methods: naturalization or marriage. The chargé d'affaires indicated that the second option is often preferred because it is much simpler.

In January 2004, the French government issued a ministerial circular on the application of provisions amending the civil code and regarding the [translation] "acquisition of French nationality through marriage: articles 65 and 66 of the MISEFEN Act [Act no. 2003-1119 of 26 November 2003 regarding immigration control, visitors to France, and nationality]" (France Jan. 2004). The consular chargé d'affaires at the Embassy of France in Ottawa stated that these provisions are still in force (1 Dec. 2004). According to the January 2004 circular:

[translation]

The revised version of the civil code consists of amendments regarding the admissibility requirements for foreign nationals wanting to acquire French nationality by way of declaration of marriage to a French citizen. The required time period of spousal cohabitation for submitting a declaration is now two years from the date of marriage if the foreign national can supply proof of continuous residence in France for a period of one year, or three years if the foreign national cannot supply such proof. To prove continuous residence in France, the applicant must submit documents testifying to this effect, such as a stay document, a lease, or a statement of earnings.

Spousal cohabitation is now qualified by the terms "affective and material." Your immigration office will verify this requirement during the declaration interview, which must be conducted before the application can be sent to the naturalization authorities for processing. The purpose of this interview is to verify that the spousal cohabitation is indeed a legal cohabitation, and that foreign spouses who commit domestic violence are not given French nationality.

The exemption from the time requirement when the couple had natural children has been repealed. However, birth certificates of the couple's natural children can be submitted as evidence that spousal cohabitation is both affective and material.

Proficiency in French is now an admissibility requirement for foreign spouses. In processing the file, your immigration office will assess your level of proficiency in French by means of the method already in place.

Note that the new requirements for admissibility of the declaration set out in article 21-2 of the civil code, as they appear in the new Act, are applicable to all declarations submitted as of the date that the Act comes into force.

Since proficiency in French is now an admissibility requirement for the declaration related to the acquisition of French nationality through marriage, government refusal of French nationality in these cases is henceforth limited to cases of inadmissibility and failure to assimilate other than language: article 21-24 of the civil code.

These provisions do not change the current procedures used by your immigration office to process applications for acquisition of French nationality through marriage (France Jan. 2004).

Moreover, article 21-24 of the civil code, as it appears on the Website for the Service public de la diffusion du droit, states that:

[translation]

No person may be naturalized unless he or she proves his or her assimilation into the French community, particularly by demonstrating sufficient proficiency in French, according to his or her condition, and of the rights and duties conferred by French nationality (ibid. 26 Nov. 2003).

The declaration that must be made by the foreign national

The Website of the Embassy of France in Ottawa provided the following information on [translation] "the declaration for acquiring French nationality under article 21-2 of the civil code, Act no. 93-933 of 22 July 1993, article 21-2 amended by Act no. 2003-1119 of 26 November 2003":

[translation]

"A foreign national or stateless person who contracts a marriage with a French national, may, after a period of three years from the date of marriage (or two years if the applicant can supply proof of continuous residence in France for a period of at least one year from the date of marriage), acquire French nationality through declaration, providing spousal cohabitation has not ceased to exist between the spouses at the date of declaration and that the French spouse has kept his or her nationality."

The following documents must be submitted by the applicant.

– Recent (less than three months) full copy of the marriage certificate (contact the city hall of the town in which the marriage took place) or a full copy of the marriage certificate transcription of the French consular registry if you were married abroad (contact the consulate that issued the family booklet).

– Full copy of the foreign national's birth certificate (indicating the date and place of birth of both parents), accompanied by a translation into French, if necessary.

– A certificate of French nationality, decree of naturalization or national identity card for the French spouse, and a recent full copy of his or her birth certificate (birth in France to at least one parent who was also born in France – double law of the soil). Note that a certificate of French nationality may be required during the processing of the file.

– Foreign police clearance or equivalent issued by the relevant judicial authority of the countries in which the foreign national has resided for the past ten years, or, if he or she cannot produce these documents, police clearance or equivalent from his or her county of nationality (with translations).

– Any documents establishing spousal cohabitation: joint notice of tax assessment, joint lease or title deed, utility bills (water, electricity, telephone), joint bank account statement.

– The applicant's passport or identity document, and proof that the spouses reside legally in Canada. If applicable, full copies of the birth certificates for any minor foreign children who reside with the applicant, as well as any documents establishing that these children indeed reside with the applicant.

Once all these documents have been submitted to the appropriate French consulate general for verification of the file, the spouses must appear in person before the consular general on the date agreed upon by both parties. During this interview, they will have to swear under oath that spousal cohabitation has not ceased to exist between them.

The applicant must prove that he or she has sufficient knowledge of the French language and French culture to be able to assimilate into French society (19 Nov. 2004).

The consular chargé d'affaires at the Embassy of France also stated that this declaration could be submitted outside France to a French consulate (1 Dec. 2004)

Reasons why a declaration could be refused

The consular chargé d'affaires indicated that the French government could refuse a declaration for various reasons (Embassy of France 1 Dec. 2004). For example, the applicant's failure to assimilate (he or she does not speak French or is polygamous) and the spouse's loss of his or her French citizenship are circumstances that could invalidate the acquisition of French nationality by declaration (ibid.).

Criteria determining the reasons of inadmissibility or failure to assimilate

According to the consular chargé d'affaires at the Embassy of France in Ottawa, there are not many criteria for determining the reasons of inadmissibility or failure to assimilate for which the French government could refuse an applicant's declaration (Embassy of France 1 Dec. 2004). He pointed out that, in addition to the examples mentioned earlier, applications are studied on a case-by-case basis (ibid.). However, he indicated that the declaration for acquisition of nationality is merely a formality that generally [translation] "goes through without too many problems" (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection.

References

Embassy of France in Ottawa. 1 December 2004. Telephone interview with a consular chargé d'affaires.
_____. 19 November 2004. "La nationalité." [Accessed 2 Dec. 2004]

France. January 2004. Circulaire sur l'application de la loi no 2003-1119 du 26 novembre 2003 relative à la maîtrise de l'immigration, au séjour des étrangers en France et à la nationalité. "Chapitre 4 : Les dispositions modifiant le code civil." (Refworld 2004)
_____. 26 November 2003. Code civil. "Article 21-24." [Accessed 2 Dec. 2004]

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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