France to reward immigrant frontline workers with fast-tracked citizenship

Paris, Dec 23 (efe-epa).- Hundreds of immigrants to France who have been working on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country will be given fast-tracked citizenship as a reward from the French government for their efforts and sacrifice.

So far 74 people have acquired French nationality, while a further 693 were in the final stages of obtaining it, the French interior ministry said in a statement issued on Tuesday night.

“Health professionals, cleaning ladies, childcare workers, cashiers… They have proven their commitment to the nation, and it is now up to the Republic to take a step towards them,” the ministry said.

Essential workers around the world who have worked throughout the Covid-19 pandemic – whether as healthcare workers, supermarket shelf stackers or goods delivery drivers – have been the most exposed to the virus, particularly doctors and nurses, many of whom have become infected or dying from the disease.

Since the fast-track citizenship reward for foreign frontline workers in France was announced in September, the ministry has received 2,890 applications, the press release said.

“Proud to welcome these new patriots who have demonstrated their attachment to France,” deputy interior minister Marlene Schiappa, who has championed the scheme, said on Twitter.

French citizenship normally requires applicants to have lived in the country for at least five years with a regular income and to be able to demonstrate that they have integrated into society.

Immigration authorities will also reduce to two years the period of residency required for citizenship to be granted in cases where “great services” have been rendered.

France is home to nearly 6.4 million immigrants, according to figures from 2017, around 10 percent of the population.

They include a significant number of people from France’s former colonies in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco, as well as countries in west Africa.

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