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France rewards COVID frontline migrant workers with faster citizenship

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Hundreds of immigrants in France who are working on the coronavirus frontline have had their citizenship applications fastracked.

The interior ministry invited people who helped with efforts against COVID-19, such as healthcare professionals, cleaners, childcare and shop workers, to apply for sped-up neutralisation.

“Foreign workers gave their time and swung into action for all of us during the COVID crisis,” said Marlène Schiappa, France’s junior minister for citizenship.

“It is now up to the Republic to take a step toward them.”

To receive French citizenship, the applicant must usually have been a resident in France for five years with a steady income and demonstrated integration into society.

But the initiative, announced in September, means those working on the COVID-19 frontline could be granted citivenship if they have lived in France for only two years.

More than 70 applicants have obtained citizenship since September and 693 more are in the final stage of the process, authorities said.

France is the fifth-worst hit country by coronavirus, reporting over 2.4 million infections and more than 60,000 deaths since the outbreak started in February. The country’s care homes have been particualrily affected.

France has previously strayed from its citizenship rules.

In 2018, Mamoudou Gassama, a migrant from Mali, was made a French citizen after he heroically rescued a four-year-old boy who was hanging from a balcony.

Africans make up the most immigrants in France.

In 2019, 46,5% of immigrants in France were born in Africa, while 33,3% were bprn in Europe.