Uproar as nurse denied French citizenship for ‘working too much’

A nurse has reportedly been denied French citizenship because her local prefecture ruled that she had been putting in too many hours at work.

Uproar as nurse denied French citizenship for 'working too much'
Illustration photo: AFP
The Val-de-Marne prefecture in the greater Paris region of Ile-de-France, which is responsible for her application, denied her application for citizenship on the grounds that she is “failing to comply with the law” around working hours.
The nurse, whose nationality has not been made public, has a total of three jobs and clocks up 59 hours of work a week and an average of 271 hours a month, which is considered “a violation of working regulations in France”, according to French newspaper 20 Minutes.
According to the French government she should only be working a maximum of 48 hours a week and “an average of 44 hours a week over a period of twelve consecutive days”.
The prefecture also informed the nurse she will be able to reapply for citizenship in two years.
The letter of refusal was shared by a friend of the nurse on Twitter (see below), with the authorities later confirming its authenticity to the French media. 
The decision has sparked a wave of outrage on social media, with many Twitter users pointing out that working overtime is very common in French hospitals. 
One leader of a union representing medical workers in France said: “So we are refusing nationality to a nurse becasue she's working too much? How low can we go!
“I work between 60 and 70 hours a week, like lots of nurses and doctors… are they going to take away my nationality?”
However the decision is not unusual, Sanjay Navy, a lawyer at the Lille Bar specialising in foreign law, told the French press. 
“I have already seen similar cases. This decision is not isolated, although it is seen more for security guards as they often have multiple employers.”
The nurse is intending to appeal the decision to the Interior Ministry which will have four months to respond.  
If the Interior Ministry does not respond positively, the nurse can then turn to the administrative court of Nantes. However this appeal could take up to two years. 
In 2016, France naturalised 120,000 people, with an ever-growing number of Brits joining the crowd.
Nearly one million people were granted an EU passport in 2016, with most new citizens becoming Italian, followed by Spanish and British. 
In fourth place was France, which gave out passports to 119,152 new citizens over the year, according to figures released by Eurostat.
Around half of these 120,000 passports came via naturalisation, while some 21,000 came via marriage to a French person.

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Can driving offences prevent you getting French citizenship or residency?

One of the requirements for fulfilling criteria for French citizenship through naturalisation is a clean criminal record. Does this mean fines for traffic offences disqualify you?

Can driving offences prevent you getting French citizenship or residency?

It’s fairly common in France for all drivers, including foreign motorists perhaps not used to the rules or changing speed limits, to commit driving offences.

Whether being caught on a radar for driving too fast, not stopping at a stop sign – not always as obvious as it sounds,  or perhaps not giving way for someone arriving from the right – the driving offences can add up as the points on your license dwindle.

But could these driving offences thwart your bid to become French or even just gain residency?

The short answer is probably not.

Citizenship is not usually denied for relatively minor law-breaking, such as speeding fines. And that’s despite a case in July 2019 in which a nurse was initially refused citizenship on the grounds that she worked too hard and failed to “comply with the law” on working hours.

During the citizenship application process, as well as language and integration tests, you have to provide proof that you have no criminal record over the past 10 years – including, if necessary, evidence of a clean record from other counties in which you were resident.

Applicants must not have been convicted of a crime resulting in a jail term of more than 6 months, or have been convicted of a crime or offence that breaches or attacks the interests of the French state. Moreover, those who apply for citizenship through naturalisation – rather than by ascendancy or marriage – also need to demonstrate ‘good moral conduct’.

On the whole, that rules out most – but certainly not all – driving offences.

What if you already have citizenship

If you have acquired French nationality, it can be contested within two years if it is found that the legal conditions for obtaining it were not met, or were obtained fraudulently. 

Furthermore, nationality may be withdrawn if the holder’s conduct is contrary to the interests of France.

Finally, citizenship may be refused or revoked in the event of a particularly serious crime, such as:.

  • Conviction for acts against the fundamental interests of the nation, or conviction for serious offences such as  acts of terrorism;
  • Conviction for crimes considered to be crimes against the public administration (crimes committed by persons holding a public office);
  • Conviction for acts of insubordination in relation to performance of national service;
  • Engaging, for the benefit of a foreign state, in acts that are incompatible with the quality of French national and commission of acts that are prejudicial to the interests of France. No prior conviction is necessary.

Importantly, revocation of French nationality may be decided only if the following conditions are met:

  • You have acquired French nationality by naturalisation, ascendancy, or marriage. Anyone of French nationality by birth cannot lose it;
  • You have another nationality. It is not possible to make a person stateless.

France already can and does deport foreigners found guilty of serious crimes, while being convicted of a crime in France can also prevent you from being able to renew your visa or residency card.

If you are convicted of a crime and imprisoned in France, you can be served with an interdiction du territoire français – a ban from French territory. This is not automatic for all jailed foreigners, and is usually reserved for offences such as drug-trafficking, violent crime or terror offences.

What about residency rights?

Foreigners who have residency rights in France will periodically need to renew their visa or carte de séjour – and having a criminal conviction could mean that your renewal request is turned down. This is usually only the case if you have been convicted of a serious crime, but it’s not exclusively the most serious offences.

Between October 2020 and June 2021 8,031 carte de séjour renewals were refused on the grounds of criminality. Of these, 27 percent were for serious offences including assault, attempted murder, organised fraud and threatening a public official.

However, 5.9 percent were for driving offences – the official data does not specify the type of offence, but it seems safe to assume they were at the heavier end of the offence spectrum – 6.3 percent were following a domestic violence conviction, and 7 percent were for offences of begging or soliciting.