French citizenship test to get harder

France is reviewing plans to toughen up its language test for people applying for citizenship.

1 May 2019
By Connexion journalist

Prime Minister Edouard Phil­ippe has asked Interior Min­is­try officials for proposals, by this summer, to “strengthen requirements for the French level of candidates”.

Candidates currently have to reach a B1 “intermediate” level, meaning they can understand and converse on a range of everyday subjects.

There are two authorised tests, the TCF and the TEF, which must be taken in a certified centre – although over-60s are exempt and their language skill is assessed as part of a prefecture interview.

The government has already increased the level needed for non-EU citizens applying for a 10-year resident card. It remains lower than for a nationality application but was raised in March 2018 to A2 and the age limit is now 65.

In a speech in March, the prime minister said they were studying the consequences to decide whether to apply similar changes to nationality.

There are six European language levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2, in increasing levels of skill.Native speakers would all be expected to be C1 or C2, depending on educational level. At B1, the current nationality standard, applicants must have enough language to get by, and vocabulary to speak on topics such as family, hobbies, work and current events.

B2 requires a sufficient range of language to be able to give clear descriptions, and express views on most general topics, without much conspicuous searching for words.

Mr Philippe said language was essential for integration and “is the first passport for the nation”.

About 30% of applications fail and language is not the main reason.

The Interior Ministry’s Direction Générale des Etrangers en France said the “most common reason is lack of integration into the working world which results in a lack of financial independence”.

Its figures show the number of Britons applying has increased but remains a tiny proportion of the overall number. Of 90,613 applications in 2015, 386 were British. In 2018 there were 101,354, with 2,952 Britons. In 2015, 88,608 were given French nationality, including 320 Britons.

In 2018, that fell to 77,778, with 3,124 Britons.


See also The French nationality culture test, I sat the test to become French and Test to get tougher

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