Immigration

More than 2,000 fast-tracked to French citizenship for work during pandemic

Foreign-born workers and cleaners in French hospitals have been among those who have been able to benefit from the interior ministry's fast track scheme to naturalisation.
Foreign-born workers and cleaners in French hospitals have been among those who have been able to benefit from the interior ministry's fast track scheme to naturalisation. AP - Daniel Cole

France’s immigration chiefs have awarded speedier citizenship deals to more than 1,000 foreign-born frontline workers to reward them for their services to the nation during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Marlène Schiappa, the interior minister in charge of citizenship, said that 2,009 people, including 665 children, had been fast-tracked for naturalisation for showing their attachment to France during the health crisis that has killed more than 105,000 people in the country.

Last September Schiappa urged immigration officials to speed up the citizenship applications of essential workers who had actively contributed to the nationwide fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

She said she wanted them to be able to ask for citizenship after two years in France instead of the usual wait of five years.

Those involved include health workers, security guards, supermarket checkout workers, rubbish collectors, home-care providers and nannies.

On Wednesday, Schiappa published a video on social media of her telephoning some of the people who had benefited from the deal.

"I wanted to thank them in person," she wrote. "Welcome to our new compatriots!"

In 2020, 61,371 people acquired French citizenship, a decline of 20 percent compared with 2019.

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