French cit­i­zen­ship

French Property News - - Expert Advice -

My hus­band and I are think­ing of mov­ing per­ma­nently to France, but it’s more than 40 years since we were at school and I’m wor­ried we would fail the test to be­come French na­tion­als. What sort of level of French do you need? Name sup­plied

An­dré Slatkin, an English-speak­ing solic­i­tor based in Per­pig­nan ( slatkin.fr) replies: De­pend­ing on how old you are, you might not ac­tu­ally need to prove you can speak French to be­come French. Ap­ply­ing for cit­i­zen­ship in France is very dif­fer­ent to the UK sys­tem. It’s not about be­ing a good cit­i­zen as such; and it’s not about pay­ing your taxes. And, if you are aged 60 or older, you don’t have to sit a lan­guage exam. The key­word is in­te­gra­tion. What the au­thor­i­ties want to know is whether or not you can in­te­grate into French so­ci­ety. You need to demon­strate that you are so­cial­is­ing with French peo­ple, not just with Brits. Join­ing so­ci­eties is usu­ally the way to prove this, and the Ro­tary Club, for ex­am­ple, is held in par­tic­u­larly high re­gard by the French gov­ern­ment. Ob­vi­ously, be­ing able to speak French will make this eas­ier but, if you’re 60 or older or if you are dis­abled, you won’t have to pass a lan­guage test. As you may al­ready know, you need to have lived in France for five con­tin­u­ous years be­fore you can even ap­ply for cit­i­zen­ship – though this is re­duced if you are mar­ried to (and liv­ing with) a French per­son, come from a French-speak­ing coun­try or have a French univer­sity de­gree or skills the coun­try needs.

In other words, if you are 55 or older, then a lack of lan­guage skills isn’t tech­ni­cally an ob­sta­cle as you won’t be able to ap­ply for cit­i­zen­ship any­way un­til you are over the age thresh­old for sit­ting the test.

If you are younger than 60 when you ap­ply then you will need to achieve the re­quired stan­dard in the Test de con­nais­sance du français pour l’ac­cès à la na­tion­al­ité française (TCF ANF). This is a lis­ten­ing com­pre­hen­sion test of about 25 min­utes fol­lowed by mul­ti­ple choice ques­tions, and a 15-minute oral in­ter­view and you need to at­tain a level known as ‘pre-in­ter­me­di­ate’ or B1. What they want to know is that you can hold your own in a French con­ver­sa­tion and han­dle the ba­sic chal­lenges of day-to-day life such as go­ing to school, work, the doc­tor or so­cial events. If you fail, you can al­ways try again a month later. There is no limit to the num­ber of times you can take the test.

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