France gives citizenship to 2,000 foreigners who did essential work during the pandemic

France gives citizenship to 2,000 foreigners who did essential work during the pandemic
Photo: AFP
More than 2,000 foreign workers whose jobs put them on the front line during the Covid pandemic have been given citizenship, the French government announced on Wednesday, under a scheme that fast-tracks applications for essential workers.

The interior ministry had in September 2020 invited people who “actively contributed” to the fight against Covid to apply for fast-track naturalisation.

Of the nearly 8,000 applications submitted, 2,009 people have obtained citizenship and the remaining 6,000 applications are still being processed, Marlene Schiappa, junior minister for citizenship, said in a statement on Wednesday.

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“Health professionals, cleaners, childcare workers, checkout staff: They all proved their commitment to the nation, and it is now the turn of the republic to take a step towards them,” it said.

Additionally, immigration authorities have been ordered to reduce the residency period needed for citizenship to two years from the usual five in the case of “great services rendered.”

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“More than 2,000 people who have committed themselves to us during the difficult period we are going through have been naturalised and are now full French citizens.

“I am very proud to become their compatriot and I wanted to welcome them myself”, said the Minister, who called some of the successful applicants herself to tell them the good news.

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

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’

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