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France to fast-track 700 front-line workers for citizenship as reward for risk

France to fast-track 700 front-line workers for citizenship as reward for risk

The French government will fast-track citizenship for 700 foreign front-line workers for their sacrifices and the risks they took to help the country during the coronavirus pandemic. 

French Junior Minister for Citizenship Marlene Schiappa announced the plans on Tuesday to naturalize 700 health care workers, child care professionals, housekeepers and store clerks, The New York Times reported.

“They have proved their commitment to the nation. ... It is now up to the Republic to take a step toward them," a statement from the office of the minister said, according to the news source. 

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The program comes after the French Interior Ministry in September requested regional officials to find foreign workers who actively participated in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and fast-track their application for naturalization.

“Some foreigners swung into action and were particularly exposed in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,”  Schiappa penned in a letter to regional authorities at the time.

"They actively participated in the national effort, with dedication and courage," Schiappa added.

Over 70 applicants have gained citizenship through their service during the pandemic thus far, according to Schiappa. There are 693 awaiting the final stage of the naturalization process, she said Tuesday, according to the Times.

The initiative has also resulted in a reduction of the required residency period in France needed for citizenship from five years to two years in cases where "great services" were rendered by foreign inhabitants. 

News of the naturalizations come after the European country has been hit hard by the pandemic. The country is currently fifth overall in the world for total COVID-19 cases recorded. 

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