France brings in stricter French language requirements for foreigners

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
France brings in stricter French language requirements for foreigners
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin says that a quarter of people with French residency cards speak the language 'extremely badly'. Photo by Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP

France's new immigration law ushers in a host of changes - among them stricter language requirements for foreigners, including the introduction of French tests for certain types of residency card and a higher language level requirement for citizenship.


France's new immigration law - formally passed into law on Saturday after a turbulent political battle - contains several important provisions on immigration and security, such as the expulsion of radicalised foreigners.

However the full name of the law is Contrôler l’immigration, améliorer l’intégration (control immigration and improve integration) and some of its provisions affect the integration of foreigners already living here.

Along them are new requirements for foreigners to learn French.

Introducing the idea back in 2022, Interior minister Gérald Darmanin said: "Today, a quarter of foreigners who have residence permits understand and speak French extremely badly."

READ MORE: Your questions answered: New French language requirements for foreigners


At present proof of competence in the French language is only required for people applying for either French citizenship, or for the 10-year long-term EU residency card.

People with very little French can be ordered to attend language classes at the OFII, but there is no requirement to pass a language test.

The new law means that people applying for a multi-year residency permit will have to provide proof that they have at least A2 level French (the second-lowest level on the international DELF scale, just above the beginner level).

READ MORE: How long does it take for your French to reach A2, B1 or B2 level?

The level required for the 10-year carte de résident has been raised from A2 to B1 - defined as intermediate level.

While the level required for French citizenship has been raised from B1 to B2 - the higher level of intermediate French.

You can find a full explanation of the language levels required - and the groups that are exempt - HERE

If you have a question about the new rules, or want to make a comment, please take a moment to fill out our survey HERE.


Comments (2)

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Claudia Ryder 2024/01/27 13:01
I’d like to know whether if you have already submitted a dossier for naturalisation by décret but haven’t had the interview yet, whether they will still accept a B1 language certificate.
Joe Millikan 2024/01/27 11:40
It will have an adverse impact on France long-term.

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