France Rewards Frontline Covid Workers With Citizenship

French Health Minister Olivier Veran, second right, speaks with a pilot as medical staff transport a patient affected with Covid-19 to be evacuated to another hospital, at Bron airport near Lyon, central France, on Nov. 16, 2020. (Philippe Desmazes, Pool via AP)

PARIS (AFP) — Hundreds of foreigners in France whose jobs expose them to high Covid-19 risks will be naturalized quickly for their commitment during the health crisis, the interior ministry said Tuesday.

The ministry had in September invited people who “actively contributed” to the fight against the novel coronavirus to apply for fast-track naturalization.

Of the nearly 3,000 people who responded, 74 had already obtained citizenship and 693 more were in the final stage of the process, the office of Marlene Schiappa, junior minister for citizenship, said in a statement.

“Health professionals, cleaning ladies, child care workers, checkout staff: They all proved their commitment to the nation, and it is now the turn of the republic to take a step towards them,” it said.

Additionally, immigration authorities have been ordered to reduce the residency period needed for citizenship to two years from the usual five in the case of “great services rendered.”

Last year, some 112,000 foreigners acquired French nationality, including more than 48,000 by naturalization — 10% fewer than in 2018.

© Agence France-Presse

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