The acquisition of French citizenship witnessed a significant downturn in 2023, registering a notable 21.7% decrease compared to the preceding year, according to data released by the French Interior Ministry. This decline reflects a pattern of fluctuation observed in recent years, with 2021 standing out for its heightened demand due to pent-up demand stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and the implementation of measures recognizing the commitment of foreigners during the crisis. However, the following year, 2022, saw interest levels return to a more standard pace, and in 2023, the notable decrease in citizenship acquisitions was primarily attributed to a substantial drop of 33.8% in acquisitions by decree. Conversely, acquisitions by declaratory means, often associated with cases of family reunification, experienced a noteworthy increase of 18.8%.
Among the various routes to obtaining French nationality, acquisitions through marriage saw a notable increase of 18.2% in 2023, although they have yet to reach the levels observed before the pandemic. On the other hand, acquisitions based on the benefit of French ancestors and siblings of French citizens continued their upward trajectory, marking a significant increase of 25.5% during the same period.
French nationality can be acquired through two primary methods: by declaration or by naturalization. Declaration is typically applicable to individuals in relationships with French citizens, including descendants or siblings, while naturalization is subject to various conditions, notably including residency duration.
An examination of naturalization rates over the past decade reveals a pattern of fluctuation, with figures peaking at nearly 100,000 in 2010 before dropping to approximately 64,000 in 2012, followed by a further decrease in subsequent years. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was particularly evident in 2020, which saw a significant decline in naturalizations, a trend that has continued into 2023, reaching a new all-time low.
Comparing the acquisition rates of 2023 to those of previous years underscores a trend indicating a closer resemblance to the record low observed in 2020 than to the figures from 2012, suggesting a diminishing interest among foreign-born nationals in obtaining French citizenship. In 2023, a total of 40,064 naturalizations were recorded, representing a 4.4% decrease compared to levels observed in 2020. However, naturalizations through marriage increased by 6.7%, while those for French descendants reached a peak of 2,121, marking a substantial 73% increase from 2020 levels.
By fLEXI tEAM