French nationality

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May 18th, 2012, 12:15 PM
  #1
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French nationality

Hi, everyone. I'm new here, but I thought I would jump right in, since I didn't see my question already asked.

I am 61 (almost 62 -- in July), a U.S. citizen (born here), and living on a fixed income. I am seriously thinking about moving to France, and have a question about French nationality through my mother, who was born in France. My understanding is that I have French nationality automatically through my mother. BUT: There is a catch (of course!). My mother was *born* in France, but she came to the U.S. in 1942, with her father and brother, to escape the Nazis. She met my father, who was born in The Netherlands and came to the U.S. for the same reason, in New York City. I am almost certain that they both were naturalized as Americans soon after WWII ended, but what I don't know is if my mother also gave up her French citizenship. If she did, does that make me ineligible to automatically be a French citizen through her?

It may or may not be relevant to my question, but I should also mention that I don't know the exact year they became U.S. citizens. I'm pretty sure it was before I was born (in 1950), but if it was after, would that change anything? In other words, would the fact (if it were a fact) that my mother was a French citizen at the time I was born guarantee me French citizenship? Also, I don't know what U.S. immigration law was at that time. In gaining their U.S. citizenship, would my parents have had to renounce their nationalities of birth? And would *that* make a difference to my situation, now (the fact, if it were a fact, that they had no choice but to renounce, IF they were to become American citizens)?

I also want to add that I absolutely do NOT expect answers to all these questions in and of themselves. In other words, I don't expect anyone here to tell me what U.S. immigration law was in the late 1940s. What I'm looking for here is simply information on how any of these scenarios would affect my right to French citizenship. And I fully recognize even THAT is likely a question most people would not have the answer to. I post this only in the hope that if someone does know, or have any part of the information I need, they will see this and hopefully share what they know with me.

Much obliged for any help you guys can offer me.

Kathy K.
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May 18th, 2012, 12:20 PM
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French nationality through parentage (jus sanguinis) must be established by the time the child (you) is 18 years old.
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May 18th, 2012, 12:44 PM
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Separately from your questions about French nationality, the questions about your parents can all be answered by research on Ancestry.com, I am pretty sure. When and how they came to the U.S. and when they became citizens would be interesting just to know.
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May 18th, 2012, 01:01 PM
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StCirq: Yep, that's what I was afraid of, lol. Oh well, just gotta find another way.

Cynthia: Great idea -- I actually have done some research on Ancestry.com, but I wasn't willing to pay $35/month to retain access to all those features after my trial membership ended.
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May 18th, 2012, 01:07 PM
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Look into Dutch nationality, too. It is the EU. Doesn't matter which EU nationality you hold in order to live in France. Who knows, perhaps you'd even
prefer to live in Holland !
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May 18th, 2012, 01:12 PM
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You are indeed not entitled to French citizenship but since you are close to retirement age nothing can stop you from retiring in France as long as you can prove that you have the means to support yourself in France, have your own health insurance and won't be working or looking for work. You would have to apply for a long stay visa.
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May 18th, 2012, 01:17 PM
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You don't qualify for Dutch citizenship either I'm afraid.
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May 18th, 2012, 01:22 PM
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I don't know what the requirements are, but you might look into a student visa that would enable you to stay beyond the usual 90 days - that is, assuming you wouldn't mind being a student again. I plan to retire in France, and my SO and I are periodically jumping through hoops to figure out how he can be there with me without having to leave every 90 days. If I get any brilliant ideas, I'll pass them on.
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May 18th, 2012, 03:41 PM
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I do not know the specifics however if you have your Mother's birth certificate you can obtain a second passport. Not that it would entitle you to citizenship however it would permit you to conduct business in France, open a bank account and it would entitle you to stay in France longer than the 90 days.
Other than obtaining the second passport you can apply for a visa and it does not have to be a student visa. Then when in France you need to apply for a Carte de Sejour and prove you have a certain income. Here are 2 websites where you can find specific information on the visa application process and other information on living in France.
http://www.consulfrance-washington.o...php?article401
http://www.transitionsabroad.com/lis...ebsites_france
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May 18th, 2012, 03:56 PM
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http://www.adrianleeds.com/home/consultation-services

Adrian Leeds has a newsletter called parlor paris. She may be able to give you more specifics on obtaining a second passport. Her email address is a the bottom of the link above.
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May 18th, 2012, 09:11 PM
  #11
 
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My mother had the excellent idea to register my birth at the French consulate when I was born -- so I had no trouble at all getting all of my French papers when I wanted them.

Any chance that you were registered at the French or Dutch consulate at birth?
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May 18th, 2012, 09:40 PM
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"Any chance that you were registered at the French or Dutch consulate at birth?"

No, none whatsoever, I'm afraid. I'll look into locating my mother's birth certificate. I'm not sure if it would be on record here, or just in France.

Re the Dutch citizenship idea, I had actually already called the Dutch consulate on that some months ago, and found out then that their "right of blood" (gruesome image, but I guess that's the term) also has to be exercised before (or by) age 18.

I really want to thank all of you for all these answers. Whether they work or not, I am so grateful for so much advice and suggestions when I am brand new here.

You guys are really nice.
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May 18th, 2012, 09:49 PM
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One more thing I wanted to say, in response specifically to those here who suggested that to retire in France I only need to get a long stay visa (or a student visa), prove I have enough income to support myself, and that I have health insurance. The only one of those that I am worried about is the health insurance. I'm on Medicare (even though I'm only 61, because I qualified for Social Security Disability), and as I found out, although my SSD checks can be sent anywhere in the world (with a few exceptions), my Medicare is not transferable. I can't use it outside of the United States. And since I can't afford what health insurance costs in the United States, I'm not sure how I would manage that one. Any ideas?
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May 18th, 2012, 10:57 PM
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This is of course an ever-increasing issue in countries like France which are trying to decrease expenses in health care. I suspect that if you haven't worked anywhere in the European Union, you are stuck with a private plan from a company like BUPA. The health care restrictions were tightened further a few years ago, and even Europeans resident in France who aren't working (and therefore contributing) have to have a private plan for 5 years before applying to join,and then pay based on income. So you would first have to be resident in France.
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May 19th, 2012, 02:33 AM
  #15
 
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Regarding health insurance even a US-based private plan will be cheaper to get you coverage in France than it would for coverage in the US since the health care costs are so much lower here. Google 'retire in France US citizen' and 'international health insurance'.

This 2-year-old article may give you some direction, especially paragraph 5: http://www.nuwireinvestor.com/articl...nce-54450.aspx
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May 19th, 2012, 07:47 AM
  #16
 
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But note that you must be resident in France - i.e paying taxes in France.
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May 19th, 2012, 08:10 AM
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<>

Hi, FMT. What if your work consists of working on your computer and online for U.S. and international development customers (and paying the requisite U.S.taxes on that income, of course) - no work for a French company, no "going to work," no physical presence anywhere for a French entity. ??
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May 19th, 2012, 08:42 AM
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My parents retired to France as American citizens. If my mother had known that she was still a valid French citizen, I'm sure it would have been much simpler. They went through all of the visa formalities, provided the necessary financial proof, had their medical visit, etc. Naturally, as older people, health care was a concern, but my father was retired military and since they were going to be living the east of France, they knew they had rapid access to the military hospitals on the American bases of Germany if necessary. For "standard" medical treatment, they knew they could easily afford French rates and on top of that, my French grandmother's doctor took care of all of their medical needs and added any necessary prescriptions on my grandmother's account. This may not be ultra ethical, but it is very common in France for members of the same family or even close friends. I have known many expats to get a free ride on a French citizen's social security benefits. At the same time, it is all for the best because it is in everybody's interest for everybody in France to remain as healthy as possible. Anybody in need of health care will be treated anyway in France whether they can pay for it or not, even the homeless, but it is always better for people to be treated for their condition before they need to go to a hospital.

If you move to France, I'm not saying that you need to bend the rules on such things, but as you learn the ropes, you discover that there are hundreds of ways to reduce expenses in completely legal ways. And with out new kinder and gentler government, you might even qualify for naturalization faster than you think.
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May 19th, 2012, 10:18 AM
  #19
 
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@kerouac, why did your mother not know whether she was still a valid French citizen? It seems that she was very prudent, registering you with the French consulate as a newborn.
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May 19th, 2012, 10:29 AM
  #20
 
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Hi StCirq,

This is actually FMT2 writing = FMT's wife If the US citizen has a US income it's great. Because in order to get a long stay visa you need to prove you can support yourself financially and won't cost France a dime.

Carlux,

If the OP gets a long stay visa, she then becomes a resident. But since she won't be allowed to work in France she will not be entitled to French social security/health insurance. She will live legally in France but will continue to pay taxes in the US and will have to buy her own private health insurance, which will cover her health care in France. No need to pay taxes in France to reside there but as a result you receive nothing from the state and must prove you won't be a burden to the French system.

The long stay visa is a hassle to file for in that it requires a lot of paperwork but apart from that it is easy to get for anyone who can prove they have sufficient funding and assets:
http://www.consulfrance-washington.o...php?article401

Véronique
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