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France Scraps Citizenship Test, Job Requirement

France is to scrap plans to make would-be citizens pass a test on the country's history and culture before being naturalized, Interior Minister Manuel Valls said Thursday.

Valls also said that a requirement for new citizens to have permanent jobs before they are given a passport would be lifted, but a relatively tough requirement in terms of proficiency in French is being maintained.

"You don't become French by answering multiple choice questions and I reject the idea that only those with permanent employment contracts can become French," Valls said.

The Interior Minister is himself a naturalized French citizen of Spanish origin.

The citizenship test had been due to be introduced on July 1, 2012 under legislation adopted under the previous government designed to address concerns over the perceived failure of some immigrants to adapt to the French way of life.

But following the return of Valls' Socialists to government in June, the measure has not been applied.

Valls said a requirement for new citizens to have the same ability to understand and speak French at the level expected of 15-year-old natives would be maintained.

He also stressed that candidates must support the core values of the French republic, in which he included the concepts of secularism and solidarity as well as the classic trio of liberty, equality and fraternity.

"Naturalization has to remain the natural conclusion of a successful integration," Valls said.

The assessment of candidates' level of French and their perceived support for "republican values" is at the discretion of officials in town halls who process applications.

Valls said the number of people acquiring French citizenship through naturalization -- a total of 120,000 in 2010 -- had since fallen by more than 30 percent as a result of the previous right-wing's administration's policies.

Many of those naturalized are teenagers who were not born in France but were brought up in the country and therefore have an automatic right to citizenship when they turn 18.

Source: Agence France Presse


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