How I Obtained the French Citizenship: Application and Interview

Requirements: Is It Hard to Apply For The French Citizenship ?

The general requirements are:

  • 5 years of residency in France: you will have to prove it by providing tax assessment, proof of lodging, owning a property, etc.
  • the proof of proficiency in French language at at least B1 CEFR level: a DELF or DALF test certification, or a certificate / degree from a French University as it was in my case.  
  • A financial guarantee, i.e. you are have an income of some sort (you are employed, or have a legal activity / company that generates income, or that you simply have lots of money)

That’s it. So, if you have made your life in France somehow on your own for the past five years, go ahead ask for the French nationality. And if you have obtained a high education degree from a French school, the period comes down to two years.

(If you are interested why I applied for the French citizenship, go to the end of this post.)

In other words, if you have completed your Master’s degree in two years and you plan to settle in France, you can apply for the French nationality. There are some other “shortcuts” for specific cases of people who have achieved some outstanding results in France or for France.

The period of 5 years can be shorter ! Take a look at the table below (in French):

The price for submitting your application file is €55 (as of 2019), which is ridiculously low compared to the price of the UK citizenship for example (£1282).

The only nuisance is the number of different, official documents required. That’s just the part of the famous French “red tape”. All documents must be in their original, authentic form. (i.e. no photocopies ! )  Among the most important:

  • your birth certificate, as well as those of your parents (both of them !)
  • an official statement of non-conviction in your country of origin (if you have lived in France for less than 10 years).
  • tax returns for the last 3 years

There is a blog that tells the story from the American perspective (quite in detail)

And here is the official full list (in French):

The Interview at the Prefecture

If your application has been accepted (it can take up to 2 years to receive an answer according to the French administration statements, I have received mine after 10 months of waiting), you are summoned for interview.

The interview always takes place at “la Préfécture” of the French department of your residence. My interview took place 3 months after I have been summoned.

In Nantes, they have specifically designated booths where you meet in private (one-to-one discussion) with your interviewer. The goal of the interview is to check your mastery of the French language, French culture and French history.

The test questions are “legendary” (i.e. everyone will tell you how “strange” their questions were) and could be literally of any sort, as long as they are related to your life in France, French politics and French current affairs and French culture.

The idea is not to discourage and demoralize you but to have an exchange in French and verify how you have integrated to the French society. I have prepared myself by reading the “Livret du citoyen” (an official document of the French government) as well as this test questions.

During the interview I have learned that if you have a degree obtained in a French school, the interviews tend to be shorter as they assume you have a good proficiency in French as well as have integrated at least to a considerable extent to the French society.

Test Questions I Was Asked :

The questions are not in particular order and the list is not complete (as I couldn’t remember all the questions)

  • Avez-vous des amis français ?
  • Nommez tous les présidents de la Cinquième République.
  • Qui est le maire actuel de Nantes ?
  • Citez les noms des lieux touristiques en France.
  • Nommez les noms des fleuves en France.
  • Citez quelques noms des français célèbres.

It is also officially stated that during the interview you can speak about anything that can “confirm” that you have integrated or contributed in some way to the French society. You must “sell yourself“, just like during a job interview.

For example, I was prepared to say that I’m a “blood donor” in France (I have an official card that testifies it) and that part of my work and the University was published on the French market (Dictionnaire de Tolkien).

However, the way the interview took place, I didn’t have the chance to mention these things (I completely forgot), so in the end it wasn’t even necessary.

All in all, the interview was conducted in a relaxed atmosphere and lasted for about half an hour. At the end I was told that if I haven’t received any rejection in the next three months, I should assume that I have been granted the French nationality.

Then, you just have to wait…

The whole process however, could take again up to 2 years. After 6 months I have received a statement that I have received the nationality and that I am to wait for the official notice from the Préfecture to be summoned for an official ceremony where I will be given my French birth certificate (“acte de naissance”).  

This is the moment where you are given the choice of keeping both nationalities (your old one, and the French), or just sticking to your new French nationality that you have just received.

Best of luck !

Why Did I Apply For the French Citizenship ?

As a member of the EU it has been really easy for me to live in France, especially concerning the administrative things. If you have lived in France, you know how bad the “red tape” can be.

As the EU citizen, one can live and work in France without any hassle (I’m sorry for the Brexit). It hadn’t always been the case though. I can still remember the times when I had to apply for the work permit (autorisation du travail) to be able to work in one of the too famous fast-food restaurants during my studies.

However, since 2007 things have been going smooth, as I could work in France as I wished. In my opinion, the problem was rather when I applied for work and the employers saw “Polish” in the “nationality section” of my résumé / CV rather than French. At some period of my life it was really hard for me to find an employment and some part of me kept telling me that the fact that I wasn’t French might have been the reason for not considering my application seriously enough. 

But now when I’m thinking about it, maybe it was more about the type of jobs I applied for rather than my nationality that mattered. In two cases my Polish nationality was rather a quality and a subject of conversation with the person hiring me rather than a detriment.

So, everything would be fine if it weren’t for the uncertainty and sudden changes at the heart of the European Union. The Brexit, the debatable future of the EU and the fact that this country has been the place a call “home” for the last 15 years that made me decide to apply for the French citizenship.    

Please, share your feelings about applying for the French citizenship or why you have applied for it in the comment section below.

The Ceremony

Your French citizenship, or la nationalité française par décret is bestowed  on you during an official ceremony at the Préfécture. The prefect (le préfet) congratulates everyone on becoming the French citizen, you watch a short video on how great it is to become one, and next everyone is called individually by the prefect and you are handed your new French birth certificate. There are around 100 people and everyone applauds each time the person comes up to the prefect to get his/her French documents. At the end there is a small buffet where you can have a drink and a snack. To my surprise, there wasn’t any alcohol however, I was expecting a small flute of champagne.

Useful Links (in French):


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