France grants citizenship to 12,000 foreign-born Covid frontline workers
12,000 frontline workers have been granted French citizenship for their services during the Covid crisis, benefiting from a fast-track scheme aimed at people whose jobs have put them at risk.
Under the special scheme, workers in essential services can apply for a French passport after two years in France, instead of the usual five.
The scheme also speeds up the application process, which usually takes an average of two years.
Over the last year, around 16,000 people had applied for French citizenship through the scheme, citizenship minister Marlene Schiappa said on Thursday.
12,012 were successful, she said. They included health professionals, security and cleaning staff, carers of essential workers' children, refuse collectors, checkout assistants and home help workers.
"These frontline workers responded to the call of the nation, so it is normal that the nation takes a steps towards them," Schiappa said. "The country pulled through thanks to them."
During the first lockdown in April 2020, when the Covid epidemic was at its height, the French government thanked staff in French hospitals and nursing homes for their services awarding them tax-free bonuses of between €1,000 and €1,500.
Then in August 2020, some 320,000 home-care workers were also given bonuses of up to €1,000.
A total of 61,371 people were granted French citizenship in 2020, 20 percent less than in 2019.