France set to make language test for French citizenship harder

France set to make language test for French citizenship harder
Photo: Olivier26/Depositphotos
People applying for citizenship in France will soon need a higher level of French than is currently required, with the government expected to propose measures to enforce the change by the summer, the prime minister has revealed.
The move will no doubt be unwelcome news for many of the British and Americans living in France. 
“By the summer, the Minister of the Interior will propose measures to strengthen the level of French required for people applying for citizenship,” said French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe at a welcoming ceremony for new French citizens at the Pantheon in Paris on Thursday. 
However there was one piece of good news for people planning to apply for French citizenship — the government has said that for those who meet the criteria, the process will be made speedier.  
“On the other hand, for those who clearly fulfill the criteria, the steps will be faster” for example by making the application process “paper free”, said Philippe. 
How tough is the language test to become French?
Photo: Alberto G/Flickr
The prime minister added that in 2018 the number of people who became French citizens dropped by seven percent (to 77,778), with 30 percent of applications rejected due to the fact that the applicant did not meet the requirements. 
“To become French is demanding and it must remain so because this requirement is the best way to guarantee the cohesion of our nation,” said Philippe. “That's why we have already raised the required level of proficiency in the French language for those applying for a residence card.”
“Those who claim that France is suffering from a system that is too lax are wrong and are deliberately choosing to deceive,” he said.
To pass the French citizenship language test at the moment, you need to be able to demonstrate that you are comfortable with the language at “a pre-intermediate level”, or B1 according to the DELF scale. 
A person with B1 level French, by definition, is able to handle day to day matters that arise in school, work or leisure. 
They should be able to get by while travelling in an area where only French is spoken, and should be able to describe events and justify things like opinions, plans, or even ambitions. 
If this sounds like you, then at the moment you shouldn't have a problem with the test. 
To demonstrate your level of French you have to take a test somewhere that is officially recognized by the Préfecture and being able to provide a certificate.

Read here for more on what the naturalisation language test currently involves. 

Member comments

  1. “However there was one piece of good news … the process will be made speedier!”

    That’s good news?
    I’ll need another 5 years to improve my French!

  2. Just a thought. What happens if you are a couple and one is fluent but their partner is not? Does that mean the “failure” is denied citizenship and has to return to Blighty but the other is allowed to remain?

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