Foreigners working in France on the frontline of the battle against the coronavirus are to be fast-tracked for nationality.
The French government has sent a directive to local officials to “recognise the work of foreign workers during the lockdown” by speeding up their naturalisation. Among those cited for fast-tracking are care workers, refuse collectors, security guards and childminders.
Citizenship minister, Marlène Schiappa, said France wanted to show its gratitude to those who had “shown their attachment to our nation”.
“Our country was able to count on their solidarity and generosity faced with that immense challenge,” Schiappa said.
The directive states: “Certain foreigners mobilised and were particularly exposed in order to fight against the Covid-19 epidemic. They actively participated in the national effort with dedication and courage … The state wishes to recognise their commitment.”
It suggests these applications for nationality should be given priority and local officials should check the contribution they have made. It also proposes that those who have performed “important services” could see the residency requirement reduced from five years to two years.
Schiappa said she had no idea how many people would be eligible for fast-track naturalisation.
In the UK, the government announced in March that foreign doctors, nurses and paramedics whose visas were due to expire before 1 October would have them automatically extended, free of charge, for a year, to give them “peace of mind” while tackling coronavirus.