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I sat culture test to become French

Two-and-a-half years ago, Connexion’s Jane Hanks wrote about taking the Nationality language test. Recently she was called for an interview at the prefecture in Bordeaux. She tells us what it was like...

French regions deal with nationality applications in different ways. My experience relates specifically to Aquitaine, which continues to deal solely with people living in the old region of that name and not Nouvelle Aquitaine.

The woman we spoke to said there are about 10 officers dealing with several thousand requests and we could expect to wait for between six months and a year for a reply.

Readers have told Connexion the procedure is faster in other regions.

We posted our completed dossiers in July 2017 and received an attestation de dépôt with a number on July 19.

We had sent birth and marriage certificates for ourselves and our parents, together with texts in French by an authorised translator.

We also had to provide photos of ourselves, a certificate to prove we own our house, proof that we work here, our pay slips for the past three years, our tax returns for the past three years, a bordereau de situation fiscale showing we were up to date with tax payments, and certificates showing we had taken a language test.

We heard no more until November 26, 2018, when we were given two weeks to produce more documents.

These included all the pages from our tax declarations and our tax statements for 2015, 2016 and 2017, a new bordereau de situation fiscale, an electricity bill, a copy of our marriage certificate less than three months old (we were married in France), certificates from our employers less than three months old, a new identity photograph, and a list of all addresses we had lived in since birth.

On December 27, we received another letter asking us to come for interview on January 29 with yet more documents.

We were invited to consult the Livret du Citoyen which would be a basis for the interview.

This was to check we “have a sufficient knowledge of the French language, the rights and duties conferred by French nationality, but also the history, culture and French society”, it said. We swotted up on the livret and collected as many papers as we thought might be necessary.

The interview lasted just over half an hour and we were questioned separately. We were wise to study the livret.

Most questions were based on the political structure and the symbols and duties of a French national outlined in it.

There were a few history questions and I was asked to name a French mountain.

At the end we were asked to sign a paper saying we agreed to adhere to the charter of rights and duties of a French citizen.

It was stressful because the outcome is important to us.

We left feeling as you do at the end of a job interview when it seems to have gone well but, in fact, you have no idea what they think of you.

We had learned, though, that if your application is refused, you can appeal and may be able to take a second interview.

We now sit and wait for news of how we did...

See also The French nationality culture test and Test to get tougher

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