When one applies for naturalisation in France, if they fulfill the requirements in terms of time spent in the country, there are other requirements for things to be shown such as:

  • evidence of three 'good' French tax returns
  • evidence of your employment as well as your contribution to French society
  • evidence of linguistic ability in the French language
  • a submission of your CAF records

it is the last point which I am enquiring about. It is not explicitly stated on any website of the French government, but I have read online that having claimed social benefit at any point during your stay in France excludes you from naturalising.

I am not yet to the point where I can naturalise (the time requirements are a few years away from me still) but I will be eligible due to completing a PhD in France. Assuming that all of my other requirements have been fulfilled, the question becomes:

Is there any information available on the effect of having claimed social benefit in France on naturalisation applications? So far, all information I've found has been personal accounts from the Internet.

If it makes a difference, I have not CLAIMED social benefits (read: I have never gotten any money). I made an application under the encouragement of others during a hard financial period, and the application was approved. Further documentation was required which I did not send in. I was not aware, at the time, that this would have a negative effect on my immigration record. I just had a PhD stipend and was spending more money than I was getting (US student loan payments = half of my stipend and the rest was rent) and colleagues recommended the scheme, so I thought I'd try. I haven't done anything with the application since.

Will this count as having claimed social benefit? What effect will this have on my application if all other requirements are fulfilled?

  • 1
    "I have read online that having claimed social benefit at any point during your stay in France excludes you from naturalising" Where have you read that? And perhaps I'm just rephrasing your question, but what is meant here by "social benefits"--ISTM that could include anything up to and including seeing a doctor. So that's rather disconcerting (and odd).
    – Iguananaut
    Commented May 20, 2016 at 12:38
  • I was talking specifically about family benefits (CAF). I will look for the link I was reading yesterday Commented May 20, 2016 at 13:03

1 Answer 1


The notice d'information mentions (on page 4) :

Si vous percevez des prestations sociales : le dernier bordereau de versement ...

Notice that this means (if strictly interpreted) if you are currently benefiting and not if you ever benefited.

As a French native speaker, I would consider that if you benefited from prestations sociales a few years before presenting your demande de naturalisation, you don't have to mention it.

I couldn't find any explicit authoritative document that would answer your question on the potential effect on your application, but I would think that this is a grey zone where there's a difference between :

  • I have benefited of APL for three years, that was two years ago and I now make enough money and don't need it anymore.


  • I have been benefiting of RSA for five years, and will probably continue for the coming years.

Why these issue should be taken into account for your application remains to be explained as even if your application is rejected, you can benefit from them as long as you have a legal status as foreigner in France.

These statistics show that in 2013, almost half of french population benefited of one or more prestations, so that is something that is not extraordinary.

Taking comments into account (edit) :

The idea behind checking if you benefit from CAF is part of checking your insertion professionnelle as @Gala commented.

If you never got any money, you wouldn't have to mention it as you must mention what you have actually received.

As in most countries I believe, the better your work status and income, the better your chances that your application is accepted.

  • 2
    (+1) Why this is taken into account is easy to explain: “Insertion professionelle” is one of the criteria for naturalisation. The form details what you have to submit in many other situations (students, looking for a job...) but basically if you have anything else than a stable job (CDI), you are in weak position. It's completely legal to reject an application for this reason.
    – Gala
    Commented May 21, 2016 at 8:08
  • Thank you! If I may be annoying for a moment: would I still need to mention it if I never took any money (I only applied for CAF and then dropped the application)? And also, from your answer I assume it would be better to apply for naturalisation during a post-PhD (postdoc so CDD or CDI) position? Thank you for this great answer, +1d and marked as solved. Commented May 21, 2016 at 9:05
  • Another annoying question: I will likely be a CDD but not a CDI when I lodge this application, because that seems smarter than doing it as a PhD student. Will this reflect poorly even if the CDD can prove language competence, contributions to their field (scientific if it makes any difference) in France, and has been working and paying taxes for 3 years? CDD in my field is hard to get, so I'm not sure how feasible it is to wait and gamble on getting one when it might take a decade. Commented May 23, 2016 at 17:27
  • @lafemmecosmique that is another question, which should therefore be asked in a new question, although I'm not sure you will get a definitive answer on a question about french law in several years.
    – audionuma
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 19:35

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