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French nationality

AFTER LIVING IN FRANCE FOR FIVE YEARS – OR LESS IN SOME CASES – YOU CAN APPLY FOR FRENCH CITIZENSHIP OR A FRENCH PERMANENT RESIDENCE.

If you want to live in France long term or even permanently, you may be eligible to apply for French permanent residence or French citizenship after five years of living in France, although this time is reduced in certain cases such as being married to or a parent of a French national.

Whether you choose French citizenship or French permanent residence, both options allow you to continue living in France long-term, although some important differences exist between the two that can help you decide which is the best option. Find out the conditions and what you need to know to apply for French citizenship or French permanent residency.

SHOULD YOU CHOOSE PERMANENT RESIDENCE OR FRENCH CITIZENSHIP?

A French permanent residence permit allows you to stay in France for 10 years and, as it’s renewable, theoretically you could keep living in France indefinitely with this status.

However, while you may share many of the same rights as French citizens (eg. in education, at work, in healthcare), you don’t share them all, for example, you can’t vote in elections or hold public office.

If you opt to become a French citizen you also become a citizen of the European Union (EU), and would enjoy freedom of movement throughout EU member states. You don’t have to give up your own nationality if you become a French citizen: you can have French dual citizenship.

PERMANENT RESIDENCE IN FRANCE

Once you have lived in France for five continuous years you may apply for a carte de resident, which is a renewable permanent residence permit that allows you to live in France for up to 10 years. Whether or not you are granted this will depend on your personal circumstances, such as the reason for your continued stay, employment and financial stability, how well integrated you are into French society and your language ability.

You lose the right to permanent residence if you leave France for more than two consecutive years.

EU/EEA/SWISS CITIZENS

EU/EEA/Swiss citizens who have been resident in France for five or more continuous years have the option to apply for permanent residence without the need to prove income or employment.

EU/EEA/Swiss nationals are no longer obliged to hold this permit but without it they cannot qualify for state services, such as housing financial aid.

NON-EU/EEA/SWISS CITIZENS

Non-EU/EEA/Swiss family members can also apply for permanent residence after five years, and if it’s granted will retain the permit, even after divorce or the death of the EU spouse.

EXEMPTIONS FOR FAMILY MEMBERS OR PARTNERS

The five-year residency requirement is reduced to three years if you are joining a family member who already has permanent residence, or if you are the parent of child with French nationality with temporary residence, on the basis of family reunification (see the full guide to joining a relative or parnter in France). Anyone who meets the conditions of French citizenship via birth also has right to permanent residence.

If you are married to a French national for more than three years you can apply for permanent residence immediately, even if you have not lived in France during your marriage. If you have been married for less than three years, then you can apply after three years of holding a carte de séjour (residence permit).