Carte de séjour: Could residence permits in France soon come with a language test?

One of France's largest political parties has put forward a proposal to make obtaining a residency card conditional on passing a French test. Here's what the proposal says.

Carte de séjour: Could residence permits in France soon come with a language test?
Photo: Tim Green/Flickr

What is the proposal?

The proposal is for the carte de séjour residency card to come with a language requirement.

The idea is being put forward by Les Republicains, France's centre-right party, but has not been adopted as a formal party policy.

Gilles Platret, the party's deputy leader, said obtaining a carte de séjour should become conditional on both a written and oral French test.

He told French daily Le Parisien: “When you come to France, you accept to belong to something that is greater than you, you are not a globetrotter.

“You come to integrate yourself, not to take advantage of a system of allowances.”

Currently only French citizenship has a formal language requirement, the residency card requires only that the person fulfils the criteria for legal residency – which relate to their purpose in France and their ability to support themselves financially, rather than their mastery of French.

READ ALSO France toughens language requirement for citizenship


The proposal is for a language test for both renewing a card and getting the first card – posing a problem for the many people who come to France with quite basic French and then improve it once they are here.

There were no details given on what level of French would be required to pass the test.

Is it likely to become reality?

It is at this stage just a proposal, from one party.

Les Republicains is the party of numerous former French presidents including Nicolas Sarkozy, but suffered a collapse in its vote share in the 2017 election under scandal-ridden candidate François Fillon, coming in third with 20 percent of the vote.

Things then got worse for the party, and it came fourth in the 2019 European elections with just 8.4 percent of the vote, but the local elections of 2020 saw an improvement in its fortunes, although the big gains in those elections went to the Green party. 

The party's next chance to regain power is in the presidential elections of 2022.

However their proposal on this and other matters of immigration has been welcomed by Marine Le Pen, leader of the far right Rassemblement National party, which is currently the second largest party in France.

Who would be affected by this?

The carte de séjour is the residency permit required by all non-EU nationals who want to live and work in France – which from January 1st 2020 will include British people.

British people already resident in France have their rights to remain protected under the Withdrawal Agreement, but anyone moving after January 1st is set to have to follow the same system of visas and cartes de séjour that is already in place for other non-EU arrivals including Americans and Australians.

Why is this proposal being made?

The proposal was part of a package of measures on immigration put forward in one of a series of 'national conventions' that the party is holding to rebrand its ideas and attempt to relaunch itself as a serious electoral prospect for 2022.

The first convention was on 'the authority of the state and national unity' and conventions on climate change and the economy are due to follow.

Among the other immigration measures put forward were an annual ceiling on immigration numbers and an end to 'regularisation' of people who arrive without the proper paperwork and then regularise their situation.

A change to the school curriculum to include more emphasis on 'the values of the Republic', a further hardening of the rules on the Islamic headscarf and extra funding for the police were also proposed.


Member comments

  1. So let’s get this straight. A policy idea, which is only part of a package not adopted by a party who last time out got 8.4% of the popular vote? And Le Pen likes them.

    Best get out the language books everyone, sounds like this has wheels…..

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Revealed: What will you receive from France’s €65bn cost-of-living aid package?

The French parliament has finally passed a massive €65 billion package of measures aimed at helping French residents with the spiralling cost of living. Here's a rundown of the help on offer, who it's available to and when it comes into effect.

Revealed: What will you receive from France's €65bn cost-of-living aid package?

After three weeks of sometimes heated debate, France’s parliament has adopted its multi-part purchasing power package to help mitigate rising cost of living and inflation.

In total, parliament approved a budget of nearly €65 billion for the whole package. 

It includes a raft of measures including price shields, tax rebates and grants. Here’s what is included and who will benefit.

Electricity and gas The government has voted to extend the tariff shield on gas and electricity prices until the end of the year: this means that gas prices will continue to remain frozen and that price hikes for electricity prices will be capped at four percent. 

For who: This applies to everyone who has a gas or electricity account in France.

When: The price freeze is already in effect and will continue until at least December 31st.

Fuel subsidy – The government’s fuel rebate (on petrol/gasoline and diesel) will be increased from €0.18 per litre to €0.30 in September and October, and then in November and December it will fall to €0.10. 

For who: All drivers (including tourists) – this is applied automatically at all fuel stations in France

When: The €0.18 per litre rebate is already in place and remains until August 31st, and rises to €0.30 on September 1st.

Pensions – The index point for pensions will be raised by four percent.

Who: This covers anyone who receives a French pension – roughly 14 million people – it does not affect anyone who gets a pension from another country.

When: From September 9th. 

Abolishing the TV licence fee – The annual TV licence raised €3.7 billion a year for public broadcasting, with the majority having gone toward France Télévisions, but has now been scrapped. It was €138 per household. 

For who: Any household with a television. This equates to about 23 million households in France who will no longer have to pay this yearly tax.

When: The was due to be levied on November 15th, but this year no bills will be sent out.

Tripling the Macron bonus – The maximum annual bonus – which is exempt from income and social security taxes – will be tripled.

It is a one time, tax-free payout that can be given to workers by their employers – if they chose to. Companies will now be able to pay up to €3,000 to their employees (and up to €6,000 for those with a profit-sharing scheme).

Who: This pertains to salariés (employees) whose businesses choose to offer this bonus.

When: The bonus can be paid between August 1st and December 31st.

Rent cap – Rent increases will be limited to 3.5 percent per year for existing tenants. Some cities already have in place their own rent control schemes, but the 3.5 percent cap is nationwide.

Who – This affects anyone who already has a tenancy agreement for a property in France (and also affects all landlords who are banned from making big rent hikes).

When – The 3.5 percent cap concerns annual rent increases that fall between July 2022 and June 2023.

Housing allowance – Those who benefit from personalised assistance for housing (APL) will see that increased by 3.5 percent.

Who: This pertains to those who qualify for governmental financial assistance with rent. Typically, this means low-income households. If you are already on APL – around 3.5 million people – the increase will be automatic, if you think you might qualify, apply through your local CAF.

When: The increase comes in your next payment, with the increased rate backdated to July 1st 2022.

Social benefits – The RSA top-up benefit will be increased by four percent (local authorities, who deal with RSA, will receive €600 million to help them finance and allocate this increase). Additionally, those who benefit from the ‘prime d’activité‘ (activity bonus) will see that value raised by four percent as well.

Who: Unemployed people below the age of 25 can qualify for RSA – this pertains to about 1.9 million people in France. The activity bonus is available to low-income workers – about 4.3 million people.

When: Catch-up payments will be in place from August 18th to September 5th. On September 5th, the updated payment will begin to be paid out.

Student grants – An increase of 4 percent for student grants (bourses) for higher education

Who: Students under the age of 28 who qualify for financial assistance in the form of grants. These students must qualify as ‘financially precarious’ for the school year of 2022-2023.

When: September 2022

Back-to-school grants – Families who meet certain income requirements are eligible for an allowance to help cover back-to-school costs – that grant will increase by four percent this year. There will also be an extra €100 subsidy for eligible families (with an additional €50 per child) paid “to those who need it most” according to Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire in an interview with RTL. 

Who: Low-income families with children. You can test your family’s eligibility on the website This aid will impact 10.8 million households.

When: The one time payment will be paid at the start of the school-year in September.

The option to convert overtime days into extra cash – This is encompassed in two measures: increasing the ceiling of tax exempt overtime hours to €7,500 and opening the possibility for companies to buy back RTT days from their employees.

Eligible employees covered by the 35-hour week agreement accrue time in lieu if they work overtime, known as RTT days. Currently this time is taken as extra vacation days, but now employees will have the option to forgo the time off and instead be paid extra.

Who: For the buying back of RTT days, this applies to employees (salariés) who have an RTT agreement with their company.

For the increased cap on non-taxed overtime work, this applies to a range of employees, such as those who have 35-hour per week contracts and have their employer request that they work overtime or those who work beyond their part-time contract amount. You can learn more about whether you have the ability to declare overtime hours HERE

When: The RTT days buyout will run from between January 1st, 2022 to December 31st, 2025. For employees eligible for tax-free overtime compensation, the ceiling of €7,500 will only be in place for the year 2022.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why is France’s 35-hour week such a sacred cow?

Pay rise for public sector workers – public sector pay will get a four percent rise in the index.

Who: Anyone employed in France as a fonctionnaire (eg civil servants, teachers, librarians).

When: This will be retroactive to July 1st

Assistance for some self-employed workers – A reduction in health and maternity insurance contributions will be introduced for low-earning self-employed workers. “Microentrepreneurs” will also benefit from a reduction in their flat-rate contributions.

Who: Self-employed workers whose monthly income does not exceed 1.6 times the minimum wage and who are registered as ‘microentrepeneurs’

When: TBC

The biometric carte vitale –  The Senate introduced this into the purchasing power package, but it is not a benefit. It will involve the implementation of a biometric carte vitale health card to “fight against social fraud” by adding an electronic chip with biometric data on it to health insurance cards. You can read more HERE.

Who: Everyone who is registered in the French health system and has a carte vitale (about 60 million people)

When: Lawmakers will begin plans to implement the plans in Autumn 2022, but it’s not clearly exactly what form the rollout will take.

How much will these measures impact inflation?

Some measures will likely be more effective than others. For instance, the extension of the tariff shield and increase of the fuel rebate in the early fall is largely to thank for France’s inflation level being two points lower than the European average, according to INSEE.

On the other hand, the tripling of the ceiling for the (optional) Macron bonus will likely not make a large difference. This is because it will likely not be widely taken advantage of, as last year only 4 million French people received the optional bonus, with the approximate average of the bonus having been only €500.

The pension changes will impact about 14.8 million people in France. However, according to economist Christopher Dembik, the revalorsation values are based on actual inflation and not on inflation expectations. “These revaluation measures will be too weak by the time they will be implemented,” Dembik said to French daily Le Parisien.