Nurses and doctors work in the COVID-19 intensive care unit of Lyon-Sud hospital in Pierre-Benite, central eastern France on September 8, 2021.
  • France has granted more than 12,000 Covid-19 frontline workers citizenship under an expedited naturalization program.
  • The country announced the scheme in September last year to thank foreign frontline workers for their work in France.
  • Among those who managed to get citizenship are healthcare workers and security guards.
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France has granted more than 12,000 Covid-19 frontline workers citizenship under an expedited naturalisation programme, the country's citizenship minister announced on Thursday.

In September 2020, the country's interior ministry announced that foreign Covid-19 frontline workers could apply for expedited naturalization, reported The Guardian. In addition to making the naturalization process quicker, the government also reduced residency requirement to two years from five, per The Guardian.

Marlène Schiappa, the minister in charge of citizenship in France, announced in a statement that 16,381 people had applied for citizenship since the launch of the program. As of Thursday, she said, 12,012 applications had been approved.

The new French citizens include healthcare workers, security guards, childcare workers, domestic helpers, and garbage collectors, per the statement.

"Frontline workers responded to the call of the nation, so it is right that the nation takes a step towards them," Schiappa wrote in her statement.

"I would like to welcome our new compatriots to French nationality and say thank you on behalf of the Republic: The country has also held out thanks to them!" Schiappa added.

In April 2020, France announced a one-time, 1,500 euro ($1,773) bonus for Covid-19 frontline workers, per France 24, as well as higher pay for those who worked overtime.

The country of 67 million people has recorded more than 6.9 million cases and more than 115,000 deaths since the pandemic started, according to data from Johns Hopkins University (JHU). At the height of the virus, France was recording more than 100,000 cases a day, per JHU. France has fully vaccinated 62.4% of its population.

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