As a resident of the European Union, you will be able to keep your current nationality and enjoy the same rights French nationals have. The only real 'disadvantage' you might experience if you were to move permanently, is limited to the inconvenience of having to visit the embassy of your homecountry for practical matters like renewing your passport. For other nationalities, a visa will be required to stay longer than the usual tourist (see further down this page).
Acquiring the French Nationality
As we mentioned above, strictly spoken, you won't need the French Nationality to live in France. But for those spending a lot of time in France (especially non-EU residents), it might be practical to obtain French nationality. However, acquiring this privilige will only be possible in the following cases:
- Naturalisation: If you already lived in France for a while, you can obtain the French nationality when following conditions are met:
- Officials will take a look at your juridicial past and will verify whether you have been paying (french) taxes correctly.
- You have lived in France for at least 5 years (or during that time, France could be considered as your main country of employment).
- You can demonstrate that you are proficient in the French language. For this part you will be subject to an oral test during an interview. Seniors (60+), disabled persons and people with bad health are exempt from this test.
- You will have to live by and respect the values of the French republic. You will be asked to sign a manifest that includes all rights and obligations for French citizens.
- Birth: If at least one of the parents has the French nationality, the child will automatically acquire the French nationality. Nor the place of birth or a marriage contract has an impact on this. It suffices that the French parent is included on the birth certificate.
- Adoption: When all ties with the (foreign) parents are cut, the child will get the nationality of its adoptive parents.
- Mariage: The French Nationality can also be gained after 4 or 5 years of mariage with a French national (depending on the situation). However, there are some conditions that have to be met like a legal stay, a clean slate, knowledge of the French language, etc. As a partner, you can keep your old nationality too and have a dual nationality.
For EU residents there is no need for a visa (or 'carte de séjour"), but for practical matters, it might be handy to have one at hand. A visa request for a more permanent stay will need to be renewed after six months, the second visa will be valid for 5 years. Every following request have a validity of 10 years.
For non-EU residents, the process might be a real pain in the ass. We highly recommend Americans to read this article on the website of the local. It gives you a good impression of the steps and pains involved with French Bureaucracy.