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France thanks over 12,000 frontline workers with fast-tracked citizenship

While we are still struggling with the uncertainty of the pandemic, frontline workers continue to put their health at risk to work diligently to treat patients, provide essential supplies, and support our communities.

As a recognition of the sacrifices and efforts of essential workers, France has granted citizenship to more than 12,000 of these individuals who stepped up during the Covid-19 pandemic under a special fast-track scheme. On top of speeding up the application process, the government has also cut the residency requirement from five years to two.

“Frontline workers responded to the call of the nation, so it is right that the nation takes a step towards them,” said Marlène Schiappa, French Minister Delegate in charge of Citizenship. “The country pulled through thanks to them.”

In September of last year, the interior ministry extended an invitation to those who had “actively contributed” to fighting the Covid health crisis to apply for fast-track naturalization. Out of the 16,381 who had applied, Schiappa reports that 12,012 have been approved.

For John Spacey, a Briton who works for an organization that provides domestic care for elderly people, his fast-track nationality “feels like a great honor,” he told the Local earlier in the year.

“France has been very good to me since my arrival and has given me opportunities I could never have dreamed of before stepping off the Eurostar in 2016—a home of my own, a wonderful relationship, a 20-year-old Peugeot 106, a 40-year-old Mobylette, the most satisfying job in the world, and a very bright future,” he says.

“Soon I’ll be able to vote, will regain my freedom of movement, and will finally feel fully European once more, finally feel fully integrated into the nation I’ve already come to love like my own.”

Health professionals, security and cleaning staff, caretakers who looked after essential workers’ children, home help workers, and refuse collectors are all eligible to receive fast-tracked naturalization.

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