French Citizenship application - final interview experiences?
January 6, 2018 4:58 AM   Subscribe

Le Brexit gave me the necessary kick, so after over 10 years living as a Brit in France I'm now in the final stages of my application for French naturalisation "par decrét".

The process has already taken nearly 2 years; I now have just the final interview coming up on January 11th. This is the interview where my motivation for application, and my degree of integration to French society / subscription to the values of the Republic will be assessed.

I have a range of material to help prepare for this, so I'm not too stressed... but if anyone out there has been through this same process, I'd much appreciate any anecdotes as to how you found this interview... length, formality, sorts of questions asked etc.

Merci en avance!
posted by protorp to Law & Government (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It was in the late 2000s when I was a teenager in a smallish town with a French almost good enough to fool a native (and while being white) so take this with a grain of salt, but I found it very relaxed? Of course, I'd already 'demonstrated' many of the things they'd want to see (BAC etc) and I can see it being different now given the changes in political climate, but it wasn't adversarial at all. Think, meeting your in-laws for the first time.

I do remember emphasising that I wanted to be in France for the rest of my life (wasn't true then, isn't now) and gossiping about... some cultural 'thing' that was in the cinemas - saying you like French comedians and get the jokes goes a long way to show integration. I don't think there was a set list of questions but that might be my memory being fuzzy. At the time it felt like a formality, but that might just be me being ignorant and privileged.
posted by litleozy at 6:59 AM on January 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Caveats: Mine was naturalisation par mariage, took place at the New York Consulate, and was done by a guy who knew it was his last few weeks in the job.

It was a pretty informal conversation, all in French. Since I work in higher ed, we mostly talked about the concepts of laïcité in the public sphere, and some of the differences and particularities of the two educational systems. I was pretty honest that there were a few points that I did not agree with the standard French point of view, but that I absolutely understood it and could debate on behalf of the French point of view.

We also talked about things that would solidify my connection to my husband, and therefore to France: activities we did together, etc. The fact that he was simultaneously applying for US citizenship was a plus—it proved the full co-mingling of our lives.

It lasted maybe a half hour, 45 min? He was really trying to get to know me and my history with the country, my knowledge of current social concerns in France, and my reasoning for wanting full-fledged citizenship (rather than the EU working privileges that were mine by marriage). A few weeks later my husband came back for a second session wherein we went over some of the same stuff, met the vice-consul and she signed the recommendation papers that were sent to the judge in Nantes.

Afterwards I heard nothing for about ten months, then got a message saying that the judge in Nantes had reviewed my dossier and I was granted citizenship retroactively to the date of my interview. The NY consulate had a little champagne reception for the forty or so folks who had gotten their citizenship that year and it was all done.
posted by Liesl at 7:01 AM on January 6, 2018

I was naturalized almost exactly seven years ago (the anniversary was two weeks ago). Sarkozy was president at the time and there was a lot of brouhaha around "integration" and "grey marriages". In my case I earned citizenship through having lived and worked in France for ten years at the time, but I'll always remember the hell colleagues in Nice put me through. It didn't matter that I was single; in fact that was used as a cudgel. "You're not looking for a French man to steal citizenship are you?? Do you realize how horrible that is???"

I prepared for the interview intensely as a result; it's relatively common here for local authorities to have the same general mindset as the local population.

I was pleasantly surprised! The interviewer chatted with me and got to know who I was as a person. It went smoothly; I have a BA in French, had a permanent job contract with a French company, and had just purchased my place in Nice. He mentioned the job with a French company specifically several times as a positive thing, he was "tired of seeing foreigners come and work for foreign companies." Just relating what he said. There were no difficult questions.

Note: I am a white woman. The experience I had was nothing like that of my non-white friends who applied for naturalization.
posted by fraula at 10:04 AM on January 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

It’ll be a general conversation about how well you know France (what you do for a living, your ties to your local community, your motivations for wanting to be French, maybe a question about something in the news like Notre-Dame-des-Landes of who Johnny Hallyday is, that sort of thing...)

If you've been living there for the past 10 years, been reading / watching the news, and speak reasonable French, you should have absolutely no problem. I see two posters mention being white, but that’s largely irrelevant.
posted by Kwadeng at 12:59 AM on January 7, 2018

My wife went through this in 2012 and it was quick (about 15 min) and painless. Of course she was the perfect candidate: she had been living in France for 8 years, was totally fluent in French, was finishing her PhD, had been married for 6 years, had one kid and was expecting another one. The (young, female) cop was not very friendly and asked a couple of bizarre questions (What are you doing with your husband? My wife was tempted to answer None of your business ma'am but didn't). But otherwise it was non-eventful. ProTip: if you know the name of the interviewer (which may be written on the letter they sent you), look them up on Facebook in advance: perhaps they have a favourite football team or something.
posted by elgilito at 1:55 PM on January 7, 2018

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