Friday, January 27, 2012

B1 to be French

For those who are considering applying for French citizenship:

At the beginning of the month I stumbled upon this article (in French) discussing the changes in the language requirements for becoming a French citizen.  Apparently they have just changed the law and now candidates applying for French citizenship must demonstrate a B1 level of French, rather than the previous A1.  If they cannot demonstrate this new level, they will be required to take language classes until they obtain the level.  These can either be free class with government accredited "FLI" (français langue d'intégration) institutions, or, for those who want to reach the level faster, private lessons that the candidate must pay for.

Apparently, included in this new language requirement is the elimination of the traditional language interview to obtain citizenship.  Now the candidate will be required to supply proof that they have the appropriate level in the form of a diploma or an attestation de niveau from an institution recognized by the Minister of the Interior.

At the moment I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this change.  While I agree that it is important that a person who is trying to become French have a firm grasp of the language, I don't at all agree with the elimination of the language interview.  What happens to those people who have been living in France for years and learned French by being surrounded by it, and definitely have the B1 level or higher, but do not have a diploma to prove it?  Are they going to be forced to give up their time to attend unnecessary language classes?  And doesn't this cost an awful lot for the French government?  Or are taxes on immigration services going to increase even more as a result?

What do you think?


  1. I think it's a good idea because speaking the language of the country you live in really is the bare minimum in my opinion, and B1 is not a difficult level to reach. They aren't asking for scholarly essays, etc (that'll be the next step lol). I'm not sure how i'd get a certificate of my level but if they want to sponsor me to take the C1 or C2 exams, I'd be up for that. In the big picture I really don't think there are that many immigrants per year who become citizens and evaluating our level is a pretty simple thing for them to cover. What's ridiculous is when we have to go to the "integration" classes and they are taught by an immigrant who can't even speak french and doesn't know who Louis XIV is.. that's a huge waste of tax dollars. Also all the lines we have to wait in, all the paperwork we have to file.. I say they cut back on all of that mess and in exchange they give us a language test. That would be a lot easier.

  2. I don't mind the change either. When a country has an official language and you want to become a naturalized citizen of that country, then you have to learn that language. For immigrants who haven't gone to school in France and who don't have a regular diplôme, they'll just require a certificate from one of the government-approved schools/testing centers (like ones that do the TCF or DALF/DELF). It just adds more expenses to the applicant since taking those tests costs a couple hundred euros sometimes, but other than that I don't see it as being a huge change.