French citizenship for Tunisians and Algerians
As detailed in our article ‘Who is eligible to obtain French citizenship’, a person may obtain French citizenship either through being born in France (Jus Soli) and descent from French citizens (Jus Sanguinis). But what about the children of French citizens born in the former colonies of Tunisia and Algeria? In this article, Rachel Amasalem will explain how to obtain French citizenship for Tunisians and Algerians.
The internal autonomy, a convention applied from 1955 to 1972, provided certain conditions for acquiring French citizenship for Tunisian citizens. The effect of this convention continues today on individuals and their descendants. French citizens who voluntarily acquired Tunisian nationality lost their French nationality. However, their descendants can potentially secure French citizenship if they were born before their French parent acquired Tunisian citizenship, because the agreement did not provide for a collective effect on minor children. Children who are born after their parents have given up their French citizesnhip can no longer claim French nationality.
Those who conducted their studies in French and are now holders of a diploma issued in a French-speaking country, including Tunisia, can present their higher education diploma, supplemented by a certificate certifying that their studies were conducted in French. This would support an application for French citizenship based on marriage to a French citizen.
French citizens in Algeria
Following the 1962 Évian Accords, French citizens were given a one-year deadline, which was then extended until 1967, to choose to remain French or become Algerians. Those who have not declared that they want to remain French have lost this nationality, including their minor children by collective effect.
Algerian children born before 1 January 1963, regardless of their place of birth, follow their parents. If one of the parents has opted for French nationality, the children are French. However, if neither of the parents opted for French nationality, the children became Algerians with the parents.
People born in France before 1 January 1963 to parents born in French Algeria have a few possibilities to acquire French nationality.
Firstly, they can apply for reinstatement of French nationality, provided they are a resident in France at the time of their application. The age or the length of residence in France does not affect the application.
They can also acquire French nationality by declaration in 2 cases. Parents of French children may claim French citizenship if they are over 65 and have regularly and habitually resided in France for at least 25 years. People who have lived in France since the age of 6 and have attended school there can claim French citizenship if they have a sibling who became French at the age of 18, as long as the sibling was born in France and had been residing there since the age of 11 years.
Until Algeria’s declaration of independence on July 5th 1962, all the Algerians were considered to be French citizens. However, their legal status was different from fully French citizens, except for those who became French by court order.
Following Algerian independence, only French nationals could keep their French citizenship. Civil status citizens in Algeria have lost their French citizenship automatically, unless they signed a declaration of French citizenship prior to 1967.
Therefore, any Algerian citizen who is interested to obtain the citizenship by descent must prove either:
- At least one of his parents was a French citizen at the time of independence.
- At least one of his parents signed the declaration before 1967.
In a case where a child is born in France to parents of Algerian nationality, the child is French by “double law of the soil” (double droit du sol) as long as the child is born in France after 1 January 1963 to a parent born in Algeria before 3 July 1962.
However, a child born in France before 1 January 1963 to parents of civil status under local law originating in Algeria lost French nationality on that date, if they or their parents did not subscribe to the declaration of recognition of French nationality.
The child can obtain French citizenship on one condition, that they were born prior to 1st of January 1963. It is needed to prove on the date of applying for citizenship their primary place of residence is in France.
1) People falling under “common law civil status”. They are essentially those or the descendants of those who are considered French based on a judgment or a decree. The descendants of these people sometimes discover the existence of a judgment or a decree by analysing the birth certificate of their parent on which may appear the words “admitted to the quality of French citizenship by judgment of xxx”. A copy of the judgment must imperatively be produced to prove this common law status.
2) Those who signed a declaration of recognition of French nationality before March 22 1967. Not many Algerians have taken this step, unfortunately for their children and grandchildren who would have liked to claim French nationality.
Citizenship by naturalisation or marriage
Finally, there is always the possibility of requesting naturalisation by decree or by marriage, but this request will be submitted to the assessment of the administration which has a very broad power to accept or refuse.
In conclusion, it is certainly possible for those who originate from Tunisia and Algeria to obtain French citizenship. If you fit one of the criteria outlined above, contact us for legal aid and advice.