Carte de séjour: Could residence permits in France soon come with a language test?

Carte de séjour: Could residence permits in France soon come with a language test?
Photo: Tim Green/Flickr
One of France's largest political parties has put forward a proposal to make obtaining a residency card conditional on passing a French test. Here's what the proposal says.

What is the proposal?

The proposal is for the carte de séjour residency card to come with a language requirement.

The idea is being put forward by Les Republicains, France's centre-right party, but has not been adopted as a formal party policy.

Gilles Platret, the party's deputy leader, said obtaining a carte de séjour should become conditional on both a written and oral French test.

He told French daily Le Parisien: “When you come to France, you accept to belong to something that is greater than you, you are not a globetrotter.

“You come to integrate yourself, not to take advantage of a system of allowances.”

Currently only French citizenship has a formal language requirement, the residency card requires only that the person fulfils the criteria for legal residency – which relate to their purpose in France and their ability to support themselves financially, rather than their mastery of French.

READ ALSO France toughens language requirement for citizenship


The proposal is for a language test for both renewing a card and getting the first card – posing a problem for the many people who come to France with quite basic French and then improve it once they are here.

There were no details given on what level of French would be required to pass the test.

Is it likely to become reality?

It is at this stage just a proposal, from one party.

Les Republicains is the party of numerous former French presidents including Nicolas Sarkozy, but suffered a collapse in its vote share in the 2017 election under scandal-ridden candidate François Fillon, coming in third with 20 percent of the vote.

Things then got worse for the party, and it came fourth in the 2019 European elections with just 8.4 percent of the vote, but the local elections of 2020 saw an improvement in its fortunes, although the big gains in those elections went to the Green party. 

The party's next chance to regain power is in the presidential elections of 2022.

However their proposal on this and other matters of immigration has been welcomed by Marine Le Pen, leader of the far right Rassemblement National party, which is currently the second largest party in France.

Who would be affected by this?

The carte de séjour is the residency permit required by all non-EU nationals who want to live and work in France – which from January 1st 2020 will include British people.

British people already resident in France have their rights to remain protected under the Withdrawal Agreement, but anyone moving after January 1st is set to have to follow the same system of visas and cartes de séjour that is already in place for other non-EU arrivals including Americans and Australians.

Why is this proposal being made?

The proposal was part of a package of measures on immigration put forward in one of a series of 'national conventions' that the party is holding to rebrand its ideas and attempt to relaunch itself as a serious electoral prospect for 2022.

The first convention was on 'the authority of the state and national unity' and conventions on climate change and the economy are due to follow.

Among the other immigration measures put forward were an annual ceiling on immigration numbers and an end to 'regularisation' of people who arrive without the proper paperwork and then regularise their situation.

A change to the school curriculum to include more emphasis on 'the values of the Republic', a further hardening of the rules on the Islamic headscarf and extra funding for the police were also proposed.


Member comments

  1. So let’s get this straight. A policy idea, which is only part of a package not adopted by a party who last time out got 8.4% of the popular vote? And Le Pen likes them.

    Best get out the language books everyone, sounds like this has wheels…..

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