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I was born to a US citizen in France and was adopted by US citizens (my father was born in France). I had French citizenship until I was 19, then I became a naturalized US citizen. I have lived in the US my whole life and have kept in touch with my French family by visiting them in 1973, 1975, 1978, 1982, 2006, and 2018.

In 2008 (when I was 48 years old), I had a US security clearance and my employer asked me to give up my French citizenship in order to keep my job. I agreed and sent my French passport to the Embassy in Washington, D.C. with a letter, but I did not keep a copy of the letter.

Is it difficult or easy to regain French citizenship? I have many French cousins and friends.

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  • "employee asked me to surrender French citizenship" why? Commented Jan 17, 2023 at 1:15
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    @FranckDernoncourt It's common in the defense sector to frown upon dual citizenship or any ties to other countries (that's not only true in the US). In the US, I have even read that being born abroad can be an issue. Even if you did relinquish any other citizenship you may have had, you may be ineligible for some positions for life if you are not born in the US.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jan 17, 2023 at 10:56
  • @Relaxed that's right. I visited a company once that had to track all their employees and visitors and categorize them as "native citizens", "naturalized" and "non-citizens". Only the first category was allowed to access certain areas in the building. Everyone had a different type of badge.
    – littleadv
    Commented Jan 17, 2023 at 17:29
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    Did your employer ask for any official confirmation that you had renounced, other than the letter you sent? They may have something on your personnel file if so. (As an aside, if they didn’t bother to confirm the renunciation had actually been done, it seems a bit pointless to ask you to do it in the first place.)
    – Traveller
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 10:54
  • When I worked for one company (not recalled which one), there was a standup meeting of about 10-15 people where the guest speaker specifically mentioned France as an ALLEGED practitioner of industrial espionage. Commented Aug 2, 2023 at 16:19

2 Answers 2

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As Mark explained, you may want to double-check whether your earlier attempt to give up your citizenship was effective. In particular, applying for a “libération des liens d'allégeance envers la France” requires submitting the usual documents to establish your identity (birth certificate…) and proof of another citizenship. Surrendering your passport wouldn't be enough so I suspect the consulate may have simply ignored it at the time.

What you wrote in your letter is not that important, the French state would in any case have to take a decision confirming it. That decision would be published in the Journal Officiel and sent to you. In other words, if you never received anything and cannot find it in the JO, you're still French. A major caveat is that I don't know how to search for individual decisions by name, it seems you need to know the date of a decision to look it up. These decisions are pretty rare (around 100 per year), maybe your consulate can help you find a list? It should be reasonably easy to scan all those of the period 2008-2012 or so and check if your name is in there.

Another approach would be to secure all the necessary documents (if you and your father are both born in France, both of your birth certificates would be enough) and apply for a passport or for a Certificate de nationalité française, maybe with a letter explaining that you are unsure whether you relinquished your citizenship in 2008. If the consulate is satisfied that you haven't and issues the document then everything else is moot.

Is regaining French citizenship complex or easy?

There is a procedure to regain French citizenship but it is not terribly easy and only open to people who reside in France. One requirement is that France should be the “main center of your interests”. What that means in practice is for example that having a spouse who lives abroad while you are in France trying to regain your citizenship might lead to a refusal.

Other than that, all the usual procedures to gain French citizenship would still be open to you, at least in theory. Most of them require living in France for a number of years; having a job and speaking French is almost always required. Beyond these (arguably demanding) requirements, it's not especially complicated as far as citizenship procedures go, certainly easier than in many other European countries. But if you live in France and qualify for naturalisation, it would make sense to apply for “reintegration” instead.

The main exception is if you are married to a French citizen. Many of the requirements, including residence, are lifted in this case and it may be possible to become French without leaving the US. Speaking some French would still be a requirement.

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In 2008 time frame (age 48), I had a U.S. security clearance and to maintain employment, employee asked me to surrender French citizenship. I agreed, and mailed French passport to Embassy in Washington, D.C., with a letter. But I did not keep copy of the letter.

You should contact the responsible French Consulate and ask if the renunciation by letter in 2008 was actually effective.

Many countries require such declarations to be done before a consular official to ensure that it is being done voluntarily.

Immigration & Visa Information in France - FrenchLaw
French nationality may be renounced by declaration made to the foreign Consulate.

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