Over 700 have already been awarded with citizenship or were in the last stages of receiving it
Hundreds of immigrants in France working on the frontlines of the war against the Covid-19 pandemic have had their services to the country recognized with expedited citizenship.
Residents helping with efforts against coronavirus were invited by the Interior Ministry to apply for fast-tracked naturalization, BBC News reports.
Over 700 have already been awarded with citizenship or were in the last stages of receiving it. These people included health professionals, shop workers and cleaners.
Across the world, frontline workers have been exposed to the deadly virus at a high rate and many have died of the disease including doctors and nurses.
France is among the top 10 countries in the world worst-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic with over 2.5 million cases and nearly 62,000 deaths.
The fast-tracked citizenship initiative was first announced in September. Seventy-four people have already been given a French passport and another 693 were in the final stages. As many as 2,890 people have so far submitted their applications.
"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.
Usually, a successful candidate has to reside in France for five years with a steady income and demonstrate integration into French society.
But the French government has said that frontline Covid-19 workers must only live in the country for two years to be qualified for citizenship in recognition of their "great services rendered".
In 2017, the Western European country’s immigrant population was 6.4 million, but becoming a citizen there can be a slow and fraught process. The number of people awarded citizenship is reducing, with 10% fewer in 2019 than in 2018.
This is not the first time when France has recognized contributions to the country and courage with naturalization.
In 2018, Malian man Mamoudou Gassama received French citizenship after he was dubbed "spiderman" for rescuing a child dangling from a balcony in Paris.