Brit applications for French citizenship soar

Published:  28 Feb at 6 PM
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British citizens living in France are queuing to get French citizenship before Brexit becomes an unwelcome reality.

Since the result of the Brexit referendum, the numbers of British nationals applying to become French citizens has soared. In 2015m, just 386 Brits applied, with mounting concerns causing an increase to 1,363 even although most expected Remain voters to exceed those voting to leave. The shock result caused another hike in the numbers applying and last year saw 3,173 Britons attempting to regain control over their futures by becoming French citizens. As Brexit day draws ever closer, the numbers of applications are expected to increase even more.

The given reasons for becoming French are straightforward – permanent residency in the land they now consider home and freedom of movement across the entire EU, whether for work or other considerations. However, three thousand-plus applications seems to be a high number but is a drop in the ocean of the overall number of Brits in France – some 150,000 to 200,000. Many, it seems, are simply unwilling to give up their British nationality even although they may well disagree with the direction thir country of birth is now taking.

Research undertaken by the pro-Remain protest group Remain in France Together reveals many are considering becoming French as the solution of last resort, only permissible should their rights to remain and work be cut off post-Brexit. One British journalist based in France has just received his French passport and considers his move to be a ‘small, personal victory’ over the Leave voters who removed his right to have a European identity as well as his rights.

French newspaper Le Figaro reported recently that post-Brexit healthcare and social benefits played an important part in Brit expat decisions. One retired couple who’ve lived in western France since 2004 had been considering applying for nationality before the referendum took place, as over the years both had become estranged from the UK due to their dislike of the political path it was following. They both feel they have much more in common with the French than with English people, adding they’re now more in tune with the French ethos.

Applications can take up to 18 months from start to finish and need reams of documentation, most of which must be translated into French. A French language test is also mandatory, and the entire procedure can be hard going, but for many UK expats it’ll ensure their futures.
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