France gives citizenship to 12,000 foreigners who helped on front line during pandemic

France gives citizenship to 12,000 foreigners who helped on front line during pandemic
Photo: AFP
More than 12,000 foreign workers whose jobs put them on the front line during the Covid pandemic have been given citizenship under a special scheme that fast-tracked their applications, the French government has announced.

Back in September 2020, the Interior Ministry invited people who “actively contributed” to the fight against Covid to apply for fast-track naturalisation.

Citizenship minister Marlene Schiappa has now revealed that 16,381 people applied and 12,012 of them have now become French.

As well as fast-tracking the application process – which normally takes between 18 months and two years – the system for frontline workers also cut the residency requirement from five years to two.

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“Front-line workers responded to the call of the nation, so it is right that the nation takes a step towards them,” said Schiappa.

“I welcome our new compatriots to French nationality and thank them in the name of the Republic, while the country also extends its thanks to them.”

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Among those naturalised were healthcare workers, security staff, retail cashiers, home-helps and cleaners.

Among those who applied was John Spacey, a British man living in Creuse who works for an organisation providing care for the elderly.

He said: “It genuinely feels like a great honour to be offered citizenship.

“France has been very good to me since my arrival and has given me opportunities I could never have dreamed of before stepping off the Eurostar in 2016 – a home of my own, a wonderful relationship, a twenty-year-old Peugot 106, a forty-year-old Mobilette, the most satisfying job in the world and a very bright future.”

Read his full story here – ‘Thank you, France, for offering me citizenship to recognise my work during the pandemic’

Last year, some 112,000 foreigners acquired French nationality, including more than 48,000 by naturalisation – 10 percent fewer than in 2018.


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