Lawmakers are increasing efforts to make it harder to stay in France long term if you don’t speak French. A new immigration bill presented on February 1 outlines measures to introduce a compulsory language test for anyone applying for a Carte de séjour pluriannuelle multiyear residency permit in France.
At present, there is no language test for Cartes de séjour; however, the application process and informal interviews are all carried out in French, and a “contract of republican integration” must be signed—requiring applicants to have a moderate working proficiency in the language already.
Language tests are required for those applying for citizenship, and applicants need to demonstrate an intermediate DELF B1 level of spoken and written French throughout the interview process.
In July of last year, the French minister of the interior, Gérald Darmanin, announced plans to make this change, at the request of the prime minister. He said, “At the request of the prime minister, we will double the credits for integration, and we will condition in particular the multiyear residence permit for a foreigner who spends several years on the national territory [on mastery of] the French language, either for naturalization or for a regularization examination.”
Until February 2023, the bill had not been debated, and as it stands, it does not seem to be winning the approval of the right or left. Although the proposed test comes with intent to toughen immigration processes, the minister of the interior has also said renewal processes will be easier for long-term residents.
An “automatic” renewal for those holding multiyear Cartes de séjour will be carried out for residents who “cause no problems and have no criminal record” to eliminate the need to wait in line at the prefecture. It is unclear when the changes will take place.