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NATIONALITY

French MPs vote through post attacks constitution changes

French lawmakers voted Wednesday in favour of measures to change the constitution following the November 13 jihadist attacks on Paris, but doubts remain as to whether the package will be fully adopted.

French MPs vote through post attacks constitution changes
Photo: AFP
The amendment, including a hotly contested measure to strip convicted terrorists of their French nationality, was passed by the National Assembly with 317 votes for to 199 against, clearing a first hurdle towards adoption.
   
The package must now gain the support of the Senate, or upper house of parliament, and then three-fifths of the Congress, the body formed when both houses of France's parliament come together to debate revisions to the constitution.
   
Prime Minister Manuel Valls said he was satisfied with the result. He said he was “sure” the amendments would receive a majority in the Congress.
   
The stakes were high for President Francois Hollande, who announced in the emotional aftermath of the shootings and suicide bombings that killed 130 people in Paris in November that he wanted to revise the constitution to toughen the fight against terror.
   
If the measures had fallen at the first stage, it could have dealt a fatal blow to Hollande's ambitions of re-election in 2017.
   
Valls had on Tuesday warned lawmakers from his Socialist Party that voting against the measures would “put the government in difficulty and leave the president in a minority”.
   
The fact that the move to strip terror convicts of their nationality barely scraped through by 162 votes to 148 in a separate vote on Tuesday suggests the collective package faces many more obstacles.
 
'Pointless' 
 
Writing on his Twitter account ahead of Wednesday's vote, right-wing politician Alain Juppe, a former prime minister seen as the frontrunner in next year's presidential election, dismissed the reforms as “pointless” and said they “divide all the parliamentary groups — to be avoided!”
   
Cecile Duflot, a member of the green EELV party and a former minister in Hollande's government, urged her fellow MPs to “resist the blackmail” posed by the nationality measure.
   
Another of the proposed measures would enshrine in the constitution the state of emergency currently in force, giving greater powers to security forces.
   
Rights groups and left-wing lawmakers say they believe police are abusing the additional powers, rounding up suspects with little proof.
   
But it is the nationality measure that has deeply divided Hollande's party, notably prompting the resignation of Christiane Taubira as justice minister last month.
  
In addition, Hollande's former prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has publicly condemned the proposal.
   
But the government insists the measures are necessary as France faces a continued high threat from jihadist attack.
   
Valls said Tuesday the terrorist threat was “without doubt more serious than before November 13”.
 
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the carnage in Paris, saying it was in response to French air strikes against the group in Iraq and Syria.
   
It was the second time in a year that jihadists had struck at the French capital. In January 2015, gunmen attacked the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket.
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FRENCH CITIZENSHIP

How you could qualify for French citizenship in under five years

For most people looking to apply for citizenship in France, they have to live in the country for five consecutive years - but, under certain circumstances, you could apply sooner.

How you could qualify for French citizenship in under five years

Here, we explain how you could shave some time off your residency qualifying period before you can apply for citizenship. The application process can last up to two years on top of the qualifying period. And as ever there are many criteria applicants are required to meet so it’s not just a question about time qualifying periods. 

READ ALSO Am I eligible for French citizenship?

Marriage

Marry a French citizen, and you can qualify for French citizenship after four years rather than five.

However, you still have to pass language and cultural knowledge tests.

This also applies to a foreign national living with their French spouse outside France – as long as they too have been married for five years.

READ ALSO How to become a French citizen via marriage

Postgraduates

Postgraduates who have studied at a French university for at least two years can qualify for citizenship after two years of residency. However it’s not as easy at that in reality given applicants must meet other criteria such as prove they have a stable job and income which obviously may take longer.

Postgraduate applicants still have to pass language and cultural knowledge tests, prove you have integrated into the French way of life, and demonstrate you have the means to live in France, which usually comes via work.

READ ALSO TEST: Is your French good enough for citizenship and residency?

The ancestor rule

If you have a parent who was a French citizen at the time of your birth, you can obtain citizenship via ancestry at any time. You will need full documentation for yourself and your French parent, and also need to prove that they have maintained some ‘connection’ with France in the past 50 years – this could be evidence of residency in France, registration with a French consulate or a voter registration to show they have voted in French elections.

READ ALSO How to obtain French citizenship through ancestry

Military ties

You do not need to complete any qualifying period if you have served in the French military, or enlisted for the French or an allied military in a time of war – but, you need to serve your time in the army, navy or air force, first… 

Anyone who joins the French Foreign Legion can apply for French nationality after three years of service. Depending on each applicant’s service record and willingness to integrate, this application will generally be granted.

Exceptional service

If you can render (or have rendered) important services to France given your abilities and talents, or have completed an exceptional integration process (such as activities or actions in civic, scientific, economic, cultural or sporting fields), you can apply for citizenship after two years. 

‘Exceptional service’ can include an act of heroism. In 2018, then 22-year-old undocumented immigrant Mamoudou Gassama rescued a four-year-old who was dangling from a balcony in Paris. His bravery was recognised with French citizenship.

READ ALSO Who is ‘le spiderman’ – the Malian migrant who saved a toddler’s life?

And numerous foreigners who worked on the frontline during the Covid pandemic have been offered fast-track citizenship.

It is important to note that no minimum residency is required for the following applicants:

  • Anyone with refugee status;
  • Anyone who comes from a French-speaking country and speaks French as the mother tongue;
  • Anyone who comes from a French-speaking country and has been educated for 5 years or more in a French-language teaching establishment.
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