In the process of seeking residency in France, particularly for non-native speakers, the mere mention of language proficiency tests can send shivers down the spine. But fret not! Recent updates from official sources shed light on who exactly needs to take these tests and when. So, before you let worries cloud your French dreams, here's what you need to know.

According to information provided by the French government’s official website, Service Public, if you're under 65 and applying for specific resident cards, a demonstration of proficiency in French may be necessary. However, it's important to note that not all resident cards are impacted by this requirement. The affected cards are only:

  • For spouses of French citizens
  • For parents of French children
  • Or for individuals seeking family reunification or joining a resident card holder, and holders of long-term EU cards.

The language test is applicable when applying for long-term residency permits or citizenship. The current regulation stipulates that the language test is mandatory for “carte de résident” or “carte de résident permanent” which are basically the multi-years permits that are typically issued after 4 to 5 years of residing in France.

For those aiming to obtain their first resident card (again it’s the multi-years permit not the first residency permit you’ll get which are 1 year permits), meeting a minimum proficiency of level A2 in French, as defined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), is essential but only if you are applying for a type of permit that’s within the past 3 categories we mentioned above in this article. This level entails understanding basic sentences and common expressions, engaging in simple exchanges on familiar topics, and handling straightforward information.

Holders of the 10-year Carte de Résident are expected to demonstrate an intermediate level of proficiency, categorized as B1 on the CEFR scale (only for those who apply for such a card as one of the previously listed 3 categories). Similarly, for those seeking French citizenship, a higher level of proficiency, B2, is required.

While language proficiency is undoubtedly an essential aspect of integration, the current regulations aim to balance this requirement with practical considerations and it doesn’t apply to visas. Most expats from English Speaking countries are vastly unaffected by these new rules, unless they are the spouse of a French citizen and even in that case the language test was already there, they’ve just raised the bar a bit.

Also worth noting, should the test apply in your case and should you fail to get it, you can always secure the 1 year residency permit (carte de séjour temporaire) and try it again later.

In a nutshell, the journey to residency in France isn't necessarily a linguistic obstacle course for everyone. And here's the cherry on top: this legislation might take a bit of time to roll out fully. The latest possible start date has been set for January 2026, so, breathe easy, dear dreamers; there's ample room to savor the flavors of French culture while brushing up on your bonjours and mercis.

Additionally, it's worth noting that for individuals facing challenges in meeting the language proficiency requirements, various support systems do exist to help you. These include language courses offered by community organizations, language schools, and online platforms tailored to immigrants and expatriates. These resources can really help you understand the language rules you need to follow to live in France. Don't allow language barriers to deter you from considering a move to France.