Application for naturalization and American nationality

Our office has been handling and litigating French nationality questions as part of its core activity for the past 15 years. The French nationality issues we most commonly handle are the following:

  • Acquisition of French nationality by naturalization or by marriage to a French citizen
  • Procedures for recognition of French nationality

Acquisition of French nationality

French law provides for various means of acquisition of French nationality, but the most common means are by naturalization by decree, or by declaration upon marriage to a French citizen. While naturalization by decree requires (with exceptions) five years of continued residency in France, the spouse of a French citizen may in fact reside outside of France with his/her French spouse and still qualify for French citizenship by marriage. The application may be applied for after 4 years of continued joint residence in France, or after 5 years if residing abroad (4 years if the French spouse is registered at the Consulate of France).  There are other conditions as well, and it would be advisable to consult with a professional to determine whether you meet the conditions for  French naturalization/declaration.

For instance, many people assume that naturalization will be automatic after they have resided five years in France. While five years of legal residency is a formal condition to apply for naturalization, tax compliance is also required, as is some degree of social/professional integration in France.

Our office will assist you in reviewing your case for naturalization/declaration, identify the documents that are required that are tailored to your specific case, for submission to the Préfecture or Consulate of France of your place of residence, as the case may be.

Recognition of French nationality

While an individual is not necessarily French if born in France (such an individual may be naturalized French under preferential circumstances), a person is French if one of his or her parents are French under articles 17 et seq. of the French civil code.

Very often, a person has a French parent but has resided all of their lives outside of France. His/her birth may not be registered in the French civil register, so no French documentation exists.

Nevertheless, if documentation on the French parent can be presented to the French administration, in particular in the context of a French nationality certificate petition (certificat de nationality française) to the District Court of Paris, then the child of a French parent can be recognized as French and receive French documentation (passport, national identification card).

We recommend that you contact us to determine whether you have rights to French citizenship based upon your parent’s French nationality.

Our office also contests French nationality refusals before the civil and administrative courts of France.


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