Can I Gain Citizenship in France on an Investor Visa?
If you are a migrant who has invested large sums in a business or other investments in France over a number of years, you may now be considering your options for permanent residency or citizenship. The two terms are commonly confused, but there are important differences which you should understand before applying. In this article, we will explain whether a migrant investor in France can acquire permanent residency or citizenship, the differences between the two statuses, and how to apply for naturalisation.
Can I acquire citizenship if I hold a French Investor visa?
The French Talent Passport (passeport talent) is a residence permit which enables non-French employees and self-employed individuals to live in France and to further its economic attractiveness. The Talent Passport also allows family members of the main applicant (e.g. spouse and children) to join them, and also permits them to work (if 18 or over).
The Talent Passport investor residence permit is typically granted for four years, but can be further extended before it expires. After five years of residence in France on a Talent Passport investor residence permit, you will then be able to apply for either permanent residency or citizenship.
What is the difference between permanent residency and citizenship in France?
With a French permanent residency permit (carte de resident), you will be permitted to remain in France for a period of ten years. At the end of your permit duration, you will be able to apply to extend your stay, and you will be able to repeat this process as many times as you wish, as long as you remain eligible. While you will be able to live, work, and study in France you will not enjoy the rights and privileges as are held by French citizens (whether they have acquired this through naturalisation or birth). Only citizens are able to hold roles in public office and vote in France. But the benefits of being a citizen extend far beyond France itself. As a citizen, not only will you be able to vote and hold public office, you will also become an EU national, providing you with unfettered access to all member states. This means you can travel, work, study, or exercise your treaty rights in any way you wish in other EU countries. You may even choose to live in France and commute to a neighbouring country as a frontier worker.
In addition, if you do choose to acquire French citizenship, you will not need to surrender your existing citizenship of your home country.
Do I qualify for French citizenship?
In order to qualify for French citizenship, you will need to meet a number of conditions, as follows:
- You are 18 or over
- You live in France on a valid residence permit at the time of signing the naturalisation decree – the rules on this are quite strict; you will need to prove that the centre of your life, including your work and family ties is in France. If you live in France, but your spouse and / or your children live abroad, French nationality may not be granted.
- You must have been living in France for five years continuously. Continuously means that you have not left France for more than six consecutive months out of a total of ten months. Exceptions may be allowed, for example in relation to illness or taking part in military service.
- You must not have been the subject of an expulsion order or a ban from French territory still in force.
- You must prove your integration into French life by showing that you have adhered to the “essential principles and values of the Republic”, and have sufficient knowledge of French history, culture and society.
- Your knowledge of the French language must meet the required threshold
- You must have integrated at a professional (i.e. work) level in France
- You must be of good moral character.
- You must not:
- o Have received a sentence of six months or more in prison in France
- o Have been convicted of a crime or an offence constituting an attack on the fundamental interests of the Nation
- o Have been convicted of an act of terrorism
Applying for Citizenship in France
You will need to submit your application and the required documentary evidence to support your eligibility to the citizenship office within your local prefecture. In doing so, you will need to provide some or all of the following items:
- Cerfa form n° 12753 (this is the main application form ‘Application for acquisition of French nationality by naturalisation or reintegration’)
- Two ID photos
- An official identity document
- Tax stamp of €55
- A copy of your valid residence permit
- Proof of your civil status and nationality
- Proof of where you live and your stay in France
- Proof of your resources and your taxes
- Diploma or certificate justifying your level of knowledge of the French language
- Supporting documents if you live as a couple
- Supporting documents if you have already been married (divorced or widowhood)
- Supporting documents if you have dependent children
- If you have lived in France for less than ten years, you will need to provide an original extract from foreign criminal records or an equivalent document, issued by a competent authority of the country or countries in which you have lived
Depending on your individual circumstances, you may be asked to provide additional documents to support your application.
Applying for citizenship of your newly adopted home country is a big step, not only for you but also for your family. If you are unsure if you meet all of the requirements to acquire citizenship in France, or if you would like your application to be checked prior to submission, speak to an immigration lawyer who will be able to advise you. Knowing that your application is water-tight and has the best possible chance of receiving a positive decision is worth its weight in gold.