After 13 years of living in France, paying French taxes, and opening a French company, I’m ready for my French passport, s’il vous plaît…
I get emails every week from Americans asking the same question: how can I live in France? That’s a long answer, and it’s actually different for each person depending on a lot of factors including who you’re married to and how you can support yourself. My own path has been quite circuitous since 1995: a year as a student, a few months of illegal alien status when the visa ran out, then marriage to an European Union citizen which gave me my 10-year carte de séjour allowing me to live and work in France.
But after living in France for 13 years, starting my own company, and paying a LOT of taxes, I’ve decided that I want more. I want to be able to take the “EU Passports Only” line at the airport. I want to be able to vote in local and national elections. I want to avoid having to reapply for my “carte de séjour” ever again. I want to be able to live and work anywhere in Europe (not that I’m leaving France, but it’s nice to have the option).
So this year I went to the Préfecture de Police on the Ile de la Cité and picked up the paperwork for the Demande d’Acquisition de la Nationalité Française.
As expected, this quest for French nationality brings up all sorts of new issues for an American like myself:
Does this mean I don’t have to pay American taxes? No, you always have to pay American taxes as long as you’re an American citizen, whether you have dual nationality or not (although some of us don’t make enough money to “qualify” for double taxation after the foreign earned income credit).
Where does my loyalty lie? Well, to me that’s like asking to choose which child or which parent you love more. I’ve lived in France my entire adult life and it feels like home to me. But at the same time I’m very American and I still vote, file taxes, and visit on a regular basis. As I have said before, I feel like an ambassador of goodwill between the two countries, which I’ve made a career of with my writing and tours.
In fact, considering how much I do to bring American visitors into France, you’d think they’d just send me an extra passport in thanks. Mais non, Madame. There is paperwork to be filled out. Beaucoup de paperwork.