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Who is eligible to obtain French citizenship?

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Stuart Safft

I am delighted to report that my wife and I have just obtained our Israeli citizenship. We will be forever grateful for all of the help, guidance and support which Ariel Galili of Decker, Pex & Co. provided through this process.
I am a Jewish, 80-year-old American, and my wife is not Jewish. We had started the process on our own back in November 2020 via the Jewish Agency and Nefesh B’Nefesh, but soon became entangled in the delays and often-changing regulations due to Covid-19. The pandemic also caused delays in obtaining the required apostilles for various documents from various state agencies and the US State Department.
We found Decker, Pex & Co. On the internet and began working with Ariel in late November 2021. Ariel did a superb job of leading us through the process, helping us to understand which documents were essential, which would most likely be required, and which, though included on the list of required documents, were rarely required. He helped us several times to understand what was likely and unlikely to occur as “the next step.” Helping us manage our expectations was extremely useful to us.
Besides his knowing the laws, regulations and procedures, Ariel also made us feel that he was truly interested in helping us to successfully work through this process in as smooth, timely, and frustration-free manner as possible.
My wife and I strongly recommend anyone planning to go through this process seriously consider hiring Decker, Pex, Ofir & Co. and, specifically, Ariel Galili.

How can you obtain French citizenship and a European passport? The French Civil Code broadly details the conditions for acquiring new citizenship or recognizing an existing citizenship on the basis of two categories: being born in France or territories controlled by France (Jus Soli) and descent from French citizens (Jus Sanguinis).

The emigration law office of Decker, Pex, Levi, Rosenberg and associates specializes in helping its clients acquires European citizenship. In this article, Rachel Amsalem will explain how to obtain French citizenship based on descent or other ties to France.
French citizenship based on descent

French citizenship based on birth

A child born in metropolitan France and its overseas territories to a parent who is either a French citizen or was also born in France, automatically obtains French citizenship at birth. This also applies to a child born after 1 January 1963, to a parent born in Algeria before 3 July 1962.

Children born in France to foreign parents may also secure French citizenship during their childhood or upon turning 18, subject to certain conditions. Simply being born in France does not grant French citizenship at birth, unless the child was born to unknown or stateless parents. The citizenship laws of the parents’ country of origin may prevent French citizenship from being conferred upon the child.

Adopted children can also receive French citizenship, provided that they underwent “plenary adoption“, which cuts off their connection with their biological family. Naturally, this procedure can only take place while the child is of minor age.

French citizenship based on descent requires a French connection

However, there are limitations on French citizenship by descent. Under Article 30-3 of the French Civil Code, French citizenship is not conferred a person when neither the person nor their French parent had any ties with France. When living outside France, such ties include having renewing a French passport, voting registration, and French consular registration. Nevertheless, Article 21-14 of the Civil Code allows first and second generation descendants of French emigrants to acquire citizenship through a demonstration of their military, cultural, professional, economic or family connections to France.

Obtaining a French passport by naturalisation

A person above the age of majority may also apply for French nationality by naturalisation, after five years’ continuous residence in France. The person’s main source of income during this period must be in France. The residence period may be completely waived for applicants who have served in the French military or are refugees. If the person’s residence period is totally waived, they must have resided legally in France during the two years prior to the naturalisation application. The residence period may otherwise be reduced to two years if the person has carried out two years of higher education and successfully achieved a French qualification, or has aided France in a major way through their talents and abilities.

An application for naturalisation will only be successful for those who are considered to be integrated into French society and respect its values. The applicant must also have good character: they must not have committed any criminal offence with a sentence of 6 months’ imprisonment or more, nor have committed any tax avoidance felonies.

French citizenship by marriage

The spouse of someone with French nationality may apply for French citizenship. They must provide evidence that they live together and have been married for five years. The applicant must possess a high standard of spoken and written French, and the couple must be present to sign documents in person.

If a person is eligible for French citizenship due to an ancestor’s ties to France, their family members are also permitted to take steps to obtain French citizenship.

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If you are interested in obtaining a French passport or a wide variety of other European citizneships, our emigration law office is at your service. Call or email us for information and legal aid:

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