People who are threatened in their own country and who don’t receive protection by the government of their country of origin can seek protection from a European state.
There are common European rules, but within this framework each state keeps its own asylum procedures.
In France, the procedures can be complex and sometimes long. You should therefore prepare for them with the support of an association. There are two procedures:
- Normal, which guarantees the most rights;
- Accelerated, in particular for people who apply for asylum in a detention centre, who have been the subject of a removal decision, or who come from a so-called “safe” country. To find out if your country of origin is concerned, see: https://ofpra.gouv.fr/sites/default/files/atoms/files/151017_jorf_decision_ca_ofpra_du_9_octobre_2015.pdf
Informations for asylum seekers
Asylum information in several languages: English, Arabic, Bengali, French, Urdu and Russian can be found here: http://domasile.info/
This website was created by the association Dom’asile and is a general information platform dedicated to people who are applying or wish to apply for asylum in France. It offers concrete information about the procedures and rights of asylum seekers, presented in a simple and comprehensible form. This information exists in the form of written material, videos and audio tapes. If you have specific questions relating to asylum, you can either find their answers in the F.A.Q section or send your question using the “Contact us” section. They will then try to answer you as soon as possible.
NB: This site is not a site of the French administration and cannot give you information on the status of your file at OFPRA or the CNDA.
Seeking asylum in France
Last updated August 6, 2019
There is a guide from the GISTI (Immigrant Information and Support Group) which details all the stages of the asylum application procedure.
Seeking asylum in France is a complicated and sometimes difficult process.
At all stages of your application, get in touch with an association that can provide you with legal, administrative and moral support.
It is also helpful for a lot of people, to try to find out about the other possibilities of regularisation other than the asylum application.
The aim of this guide is to provide you with the information you need to file an asylum application, to assert your rights, and to avoid falling into the traps set by the French administration.
!! Remember to always give a copy of the papers you are asked to produce (apart from the passport that Ofpra will ask you for) to keep the originals!
To apply for asylum in France, you must first go to the first reception structures for asylum seekers (“Spada” or “Pada”). You cannot go directly to the prefecture or the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (“Ofpra”).
A Spada is managed by an association working on behalf of the French State. Its role is multiple since it must inform you about asylum procedures, give you the necessary documents to file an application for protection, and help you in your asylum application process, especially if you are not accommodated in an accommodation centre.
1. To inform you about asylum
Spada must inform you about asylum procedures and provide you with information documents written by the Ofii, a state agency.
2. Help you with your registration process
Spada must fill in with you the asylum application registration form and check that your file is complete for the prefecture.
To fill in this form, the Spada agent will ask you questions about :
your civil status (surnames and first names, nationality, family situation, etc.) ;
- your travel itinerary from your country of origin
- the way you entered France
- if you have already applied for asylum in France or in Europe, etc.
The form and a photo taken by webcam will be sent to the prefecture.
Note: even if you do not have a passport or identity card, Spada must register your asylum application and note the information you give orally.
The questions on your journey will allow them to know if you have crossed other countries of the European Union and, if so, to apply the “Dublin” procedure (form n°3). Some prefectures only place persons whose fingerprints have been recorded in a file under the “Dublin” procedure, while others will use also what people declared during their interviews.
If you do not want to answer the questions or if the prefecture realises that you have given false information, they may declare that you do not want to “cooperate” and place you in accelerated procedure, which is not favourable to you.
3. Make an appointment for you at the prefecture’s counter.
Spada has to make an appointment for you at the prefecture’s so-called one-stop shop for asylum applications (Guda) within 3 days (or 10 days if the number of people applying for asylum is very high) and give you an
call for this meeting.
Attention! This delay may be longer in some prefectures. In this case, contact an association to see if an appeal against this delay is possible.
4. In the absence of accommodation
If after your stay at “Guda” the “Ofii” does not offer you sustainable accommodation, you must return to the “Spada” which must :
give you a stable address, which is very important to receive your mail;
- fill in the Ofpra asylum application form with you;
- help you write your asylum story and translate it;
- help you to obtain the health protection to which an asylum seeker is entitled;
- give you exceptional assistance (vouchers, food parcels) and refer you to the municipal reception service if you need it (Centre communal d’action sociale - CCAS).
Spada is obliged to help you because it is a state operator subject to precise specifications. If Spada does not help you enough, you can, after registering with Spada, go to an association that helps asylum seekers.
Attention! You must go to Spada very regularly to collect your mail (once a week) or consult the structure’s website if necessary. If you do not go to the Spada for a month, it may close your home address, unless your absence is justified (Ceseda, art. R. 744-3). The Prefecture can also declare you “on the run” if you have missed an appointment if you are in the “Dublin” procedure.
The “sorting” of applicants by the prefecture and the right of residence
After the reception platform - “Spada” you have to go to the single asylum application desk (“Guda”) on the date of the summons issued by “Spada”.
The Prefecture takes care of your right to stay. Even if you do not have a passport or identity card, it must record the information you give orally.
It is best not to miss this appointment as it will be difficult to obtain another one. You must imperatively communicate, if necessary, any change of address or domiciliation to the prefecture by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt.
Please note! The prefecture will indicate the languages in which you can be heard during the interview at Ofpra. You will then have to choose this language
It will be used throughout the procedure. It is recommended that you request an interpreter in your mother tongue. Do not indicate a language that you do not speak perfectly.
You may refuse to testify or sign papers if the interpreter present does not speak the language you have requested, in this case ask for the interview to be postponed to the language you have chosen.
1. The fingerprinting
At the prefecture, your fingerprints will be taken to see if you are registered in the Eurodac and Visabio files.
The prefecture must give you a brochure in your language, explaining why they are taking your fingerprints; it is entitled “I have applied for asylum in the European Union: which country will be responsible to examine my application?”.
The Prefecture will also look for other clues or evidence of a passage through another EU country: it will ask you questions about your journey, examine your passport (to see if there is a visa for another European country) or other documents that you will give to them.
If your fingerprints are found in the Eurodac file or if the prefecture finds any other proof for your passage through another European country, you may be placed in the “Dublin” procedure.
If the prefecture does not find any proof that you have passed through another European Union country, you can apply for asylum in France.
Note: before the appointment at the prefecture, you cannot know whether or not you are registered in the Eurodac file. The countries you have crossed (Italy, Hungary, etc.) and in which you have been checked may not have registered your fingerprints in the file.
Please note! If you refuse to give your fingerprints to the Prefecture, you will automatically be placed in the accelerated procedure (see below).
Some prefectures also refuse to register asylum applications if your fingerprints are illegible, but this is illegal. If this is the case, you must go to an association or a lawyer to challenge this practice.
2. The Asylum Seekers’ Guide
The Prefecture must give you The Asylum Seeker’s Guide, published by the Ministry of the Interior, in a language you understand, and a list of associations that can help you.
3. “Normal”, “Expedited” or “Dublin” procedure
The prefecture can place you in “normal”, “accelerated” or “Dublin” procedure.
Please note! The accelerated procedure is not favourable for you (quicker and more superficial examination).
You will be placed in accelerated procedure:
- if you do not give your fingerprints or if they are illegible or erased;
- if you give false identity documents;
- if you give wrong information about yourself or your travel route;
- if the prefecture finds out that you have already applied for asylum in France under another name;
- if you say you have been in France for more than 90 days before you apply;
- if you are arrested and the police give you an obligation to leave the territory (OQTF) and you are placed in a detention centre.
In addition, the law specifies that the prefecture will obligatorily place you in accelerated procedure :
if you come from a "safe country of origin";
- if you apply for a re-examination of your asylum application.
“Ofpra” can also place you in accelerated procedure after studying your case.
The prefecture must give you a document explaining why it is placing you in the accelerated procedure. Ask for it if they don’t give it to you!
Note: There is no useful appeal to the administrative court against the placement in accelerated procedure. You will only be able to challenge this placement before the National Court of Asylum. If you have been wrongly placed in accelerated procedure, it is still possible to ask “Ofpra”, by registered letter, to requalify your application in normal procedure.
According to the law, “Ofpra” has only 15 days to take a decision, but in practice the time limits are longer.
In accelerated procedure, even more than in normal procedure, it is imperative to work hard on writing your asylum story in the Ofpra form and to prepare your interview.
If your asylum application is rejected by “Ofpra” while you are in accelerated procedure, only one judge will examine your appeal to the CNDA (instead of 3 in normal procedure). This judge will give his decision in 5 weeks instead of 5 months, which gives him less time to examine your appeal. For the time being, this time limit is not respected.
Moreover, the “Ofii” will be able to use this fast-track procedure to refuse to grant you the material reception conditions (CMA) including the asylum seeker’s allowance (ADA) and accommodation (see below). You will have to verify that this is a legal ground for withdrawing MACs.
4. You receive a certificate of asylum application
The Prefecture must give you a “certificate of asylum application” for a period of 1 month which specifies in which procedure you are placed (“normal”, “accelerated” or “Dublin”). This document proves that you are an asylum seeker: you must have it with you in case of a police check (the original or a photocopy).
Note: the prefecture will then give you a date when you will be summoned to renew your certificate. It is possible that the convocation date exceeds the validity period of the asylum application certificate but you remain protected.
On the convocation date, you must return to the prefecture to renew this certificate by presenting :
Ofpra's registration letter or the receipt for filing a file;
- a proof of residence or a certificate of domiciliation less than 3 months old.
In normal procedure, the second certificate is valid for 9 months, then renewable every 6 months. In accelerated procedure, the second certificate is valid for 6 months, then renewable every 3 months.
The asylum application certificate does not allow free movement in the other States of the European Union.
Attention! It is useful to keep copies of all your documents, especially the asylum application certificates, because if the prefecture takes them away illegally, and your lawyer will need them.
The “Ofii” and the material conditions of reception
The French Office for Immigration and Integration (“Ofii”), a body under the supervision of the Ministry of the Interior, is responsible for your access to material reception conditions (accommodation, asylum seeker’s allowance, domiciliation, care for vulnerability). Whatever the procedure in which the prefecture has placed you (normal, accelerated or “Dublin”), you are entitled to MCAs, except in the cases listed below.
Warning! The Ofii will offer you to sign the “offer of care” in order to receive accommodation and asylum seeker’s allowance. If you accept this offer, you may be able to receive accommodation and the allowance (ADA). This offer is a package offer, so if you refuse any part of the offer, you will not be entitled to anything.
Accepting the offer of care means that the “Ofii” can force you to go to another region (a region of residence) without necessarily offering you accommodation there. The law sets up a national reception scheme for asylum seekers which determines the reception capacities of each region. If, in the region where you live, the number of asylum seekers to be received exceeds the number set by the national reception scheme, you may be referred to another region in which you are required to reside while your application is being examined. It will not be possible to leave this region without the authorisation of the “Ofii”.
Please note: these residency proposals must take into account your personal and family situation. You should not hesitate to put forward what might justify your orientation in a particular region.
The “Ofii” will interview you in person to judge whether you are a “vulnerable” asylum seeker. For example, a disabled or sick person, a pregnant woman, etc. is considered “vulnerable”. You will be given priority access to accommodation and it will have to be adapted.
At any time during the procedure, you can report a situation of vulnerability to the “Ofii”.
The “Ofii” has to propose you an accommodation according to the places available in the reception centre for asylum seekers (“Cada”). To do so, it consults the national file for the management of places or DN@. If there are no places available in “Cada”, the Office can offer you accommodation in temporary reception-asylum service (“AT-SA”, emergency accommodation), emergency accommodation for asylum seekers (“Huda”), in a reception and orientation centre (“CAO”) or in the Prahda scheme (reception and accommodation programme for asylum seekers).
If the “Ofii” does not offer you any accommodation, it will redirect you to the “Spada”, which will advise you to call 115 (emergency number managed by the Samu Social) to find emergency accommodation yourself.
3. The domiciliation
If you are accommodated “permanently” in a centre authorised to do so, you can use this address for your asylum procedure. If you are not accommodated in a centre that can domicile you, you must return to the “Spada” (form n°1) which will give you a postal address certificate to receive your mail.
Attention! You must collect your mail very regularly (once a week) or consult the website regularly. If you do not go to the Spada for a month, it may close your address (unless your absence is justified).
4. Asylum seeker’s allowance (ADA)
The “Ofii” gives you a card to withdraw this allowance that can be used in ATMs. It is still advisable to open a bank account (at the Post Office Bank). To do so, you must present the certificate of asylum application and a valid direct debit. In case of a problem, ask “Spada” or your accommodation centre to solve the problem.
OBSTACLES THAT MAY JEOPARDISE THE ASYLUM APPLICATION
leave French territory
- You should go to “Spada” very regularly to collect your mail (once a week) or consult the structure’s website if necessary. If you do not go to Spada for a month, it may close your home address, unless your absence is justified (Ceseda, art. R. 744-3). The Prefecture can also declare you “on the run” if you have missed an appointment if you are in the “Dublin” procedure.