Traveling throughout Europe is a treat no matter where you go, but sometimes, one country in particular captures your heart more than the others.
France is a beautiful country with much to offer, so it’s no surprise that many American travelers end up falling in love with it—and some do so enough that they decide they want to live there on a semi-permanent or permanent basis.
There are several pathways to dual citizenship with France. If you can answer yes to the next few questions, you may apply for French citizenship without giving up your US citizenship.
Under the following circumstances, you are eligible to apply for French citizenship:
- You have lived and worked in France for at least five years.
- You were born to or married to a French citizen. If you apply under the marriage rule, your marriage is at least five years old and you currently live together.
- You have served five years or more in the French Foreign Legion.
- You have earned a Master's Degree from a French University after studying in France for at least two years.
What are the steps you need to take to apply for citizenship?
Prepare yourself for a significant amount of paperwork over the next few months. To start, you can request a naturalization application form from the prefecture in the city in which you live.
If you don't have originals of your documentation, you can submit certified copies of your birth certificate, passport, marriage certificate, or divorce papers to prove who you are. You will also need copies of utility bills to show your address, a copy of your French residence card, and a character reference from a French professional citizen.
Have an official government translator translate all of your documents from English into French. This part is important—if you choose any random translator, your documentation will likely not be accepted and you’ll have to start from the beginning.
Pull together your French tax and employment documents. If your children will be applying for citizenship as well, especially school-aged ones, they will need to submit school documents and/or military service papers.
If you have lived in France for less than 10 years, you must provide prior address information. Translate all documents into French, again using only an official government translator.
Next, you have to send all the appropriate documents to the local prefecture. Then wait. And wait. And wait some more. It can take up to two years to get an interview after you apply.
When the time comes, organize any additional documents that the prefecture requests and make copies. You will need to turn over the copies to the appropriate authorities. Obtain references from your landlord and your employers stating that you pay bills on time and show up to work on time.
After your interview at the prefecture, wait for an answer on your application from the Ministry of the Interior. If the government approves your application for citizenship, the Ministry of the Interior will set your appointment for your naturalization ceremony.
What are the advantages to dual citizenship?
If you have dual citizenship, you have access to the same opportunities in both countries. You can vote and work in France and the US. You can own property in France and the US. You can take advantage of the government services in both countries. If you choose to attend school in either France or US, you will pay the tuition rate for citizens.
As of 2014, French citizens have visa-free access to travel in 172 countries.
Are there disadvantages to dual citizenship?
Traveling can raise issues when you are a dual citizen. You will need two passports, one from each country in which you are a citizen. The US requires citizens to leave and enter the US using a US passport. But your non-US passport may suit you better than your US passport when you travel to and from certain parts of the world. You will need to keep apprised of the various countries and their ties to either the US or France, and use your passports accordingly.
Of course, splitting life between two countries or moving out of the US entirely is no small feat, and the true adjustment can’t be summarized in a single blog post. But if you’re thinking of applying for dual citizenship in France, the points above are the first of many steps that you should be prepared to take as you move toward fulfilling your dream.
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