In 2010, about 116,000 foreigners were granted French citizenship, but in 2011 that figure fell by almost 30 per cent to 87,000.
A more relaxed system under the country's new socialist government should reverse the decline and encourage many more to apply for a passport, but this is something the opposition is fighting hard to stop.
Whatever their reason for wanting French nationality, immigrants will still have to navigate a maze of bureaucracy.
Al Jazeera's Charlie Angela reports from Paris.
Source: Al Jazeera