More than 200,000 people have become French again after losing their nationality since decolonization

The reintegration procedure allows a person who had, then lost, French nationality to regain it.



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A French passport and identity card photographed in Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine), October 13, 2023. (CLAIRE SERIE / HANS LUCAS / AFP)

It is a little-known procedure, but which has enabled more than 200,000 people to regain French nationality since the 1960s. The National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED) publishes, in its February bulletin, an unprecedented study on the reintegration process put in place after decolonization. It allows a person who had, then lost, French nationality to regain it, explains the Public Service website. Among these “reintegrated” people are a good number of people of Algerian origin. “Arrivals in France depend a lot on family trajectories linked in part to the colonial past”recalls Emmanuel Blanchard, researcher associated with INED and co-author of the study.

From the 1970s, the reintegration procedure grew in importance, going so far as to represent 4 to 7% of all acquisitions of French nationality from 1980 to 2010, reports INED. When Algeria gained independence in 1962, around 60,000 people chose to retain French nationality, but from 1967, former “French Muslims of Algeria” who did not take this step lost their French nationality. retroactively (from 1963).

A peak in reintegration in 2005

Algerians born before independence and emigrated to France were, however, able to request their reintegration by decree, causing a gradual rise in this method of acquiring French nationality, according to the study. “In the context of the time, for the vast majority of Algerians, there was no doubt that the nationality they wanted to have was French nationality”relates Emmanuel Blanchard.

“These statistics, which are part of broader research, tend to show that there is no clear dichotomy between who would be French and who would be foreign, and that there is a back and forth.”

Emmanuel Blanchard, associate researcher at INED

to AFP

“This reminds us that nationality is not what most structures identities. A little over half a century ago, nationality mattered much less”, he emphasizes. The increase continued until a peak in 2005, with more than 10,000 reintegrated that year, including nearly 9,000 Algerians. It marks, paradoxically, “the last lights of a golden age of reintegration, both brief and limited”, emphasize the researchers. Over the past ten years, the population eligible for reintegration has been shrinking, notably due to the reduction in the number of people born before independence.

In addition to people of Algerian origin, those of Vietnamese origin are among those most represented in the reintegration process, then, from the mid-1990s, people from the former overseas territories (TOM). The annual number of reintegrated people has been divided by ten since the beginning of the 2000s. In 2020, less than 800 people have regained French nationality, whether or not they were born in the former colonial Empire.

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