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Language tests for multi-year residency cards on agenda for French MPs

Many forms of card already involve tests – and hundreds of hours of lessons if your language skills are poor

If plans go forward it is going to much harder to get a carte de séjour for non-French speaking foreigners Pic: Aysezgicmeli / Shutterstock

THE interior minister wants obtaining multi-year residency cards to be dependent on ‘mastering’ French and this is likely to be part of a wide MPs’ debate on immigration reform next month. 

Read more: Do you need a language certificate to obtain a French residency card

Language skills are already checked for many foreign people, particularly for those with work contracts longer than one year who are seeking cartes de séjour pluriannuelles (‘multi-year’ cards) as opposed to annually renewable cards. This may also apply to multi-year cards for the self-employed or those with French family links. 

Read more: Plans for multi-year French residency cards to include language test

The cards require a ‘Contract of republican integration’, which includes taking a test at the OFII immigration offices. In some cases this happens when validating your visa in the first three months. If you have at least level A1 (very basic French) you only have to take a four-day civic training course. Otherwise, language lessons (often 100-600 hours) are required. Issue of a multi-year card will depend on having carried out what was asked. 

OFII’s deputy director said they try to find the most convenient provider and with flexible hours – for example, evening and Saturday for full-time workers – but you cannot pick and choose. 

Read more: France to develop more demanding immigrant integration process

People on ‘visitor’ visas have no language requirements and are not offered lessons. OFII only asks them to take a medical (for preventative reasons, not to assess the right to stay). 

Proof of level A2 (basic French), by equivalent diplomas or a private language test, is needed to obtain the 10-year carte de résident de longue-durée-UE. B1 intermediate level is needed for French nationality.

Related links

French MP supports non-EU foreigners voting in municipal elections

Can you hold a carte de séjour for France while living in the UK

French minister: We judge foreigners for what they do not who they are

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