France is rewarding immigrants who are working on the coronavirus frontline with a fast-track citizenship.
Since the interior ministry invited eligible residents to apply for accelerated naturalisation, 74 people have been granted citizenship and 693 are in the final stages of the process.
The fast-track process applies to a range of key workers, from healthcare professionals, cleaners to shop workers. A total of 2,890 people have applied through the initiative, which was first announced in September.
‘Health professionals, cleaning ladies, childcare workers, checkout staff: They all proved their commitment to the nation, and it is now the turn of the republic to take a step towards them,’ the office of Marlene Schiappa, junior minister for citizenship, said on Tuesday, December 22.
Under the normal process, applicants must have lived in France for five years, had a stable income and demonstrated integration into French society.
The expedited citizenship process only requires coronavirus workers to have lived in the country for two years, in recognition of their ‘great services rendered’, BBC News reports.
It is not the first time France has rewarded contributions to the country with citizenship for immigrants. In 2018, a man was awarded French citizenship after he rescued a small boy who was dangling from a balcony.
Mamoudou Gassama, later dubbed a real-life ‘Spiderman’ scaled four floors with his bare hands to save the four-year-old.
Gassama had been in France illegally at the time but received international acclaim for his bravery.
Announcing his citizenship, the government said: ‘This act of great bravery exemplifies the values which help unite our national community, such as courage, selflessness, altruism and taking care of the most vulnerable.’
Since the beginning of the pandemic, France has reported more than 2.5 million cases of the virus and approximately 62,000 deaths.
Earlier this year, French ministers announced that they would assist domestic abuse victims after figures showed that the number of abuse cases had soared during the country’s lockdown.
Stay at home orders saw a 36% rise in the number of domestic abuses cases reported to the police in Paris, while they rose by 34% in other parts of the country.
The government vowed to pay for 20,000 hotel bookings for victims, and contribute €1 million (£881,000) to organisations that fight domestic abuse. Additionally, it also set up assistance points at supermarkets and pharmacies across the country.
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