www.gisti.org/asylum-in-france Seek asylum in France
Englishfrançais [ Latest update : 17 February 2016 ]
The asylum application procedure was modified in 2015. Despite politicians’ speeches promising simplification, it is still a complicated process and is sometimes difficult to comprehend.
In our view, this initiative is all the more urgent given the hundreds of migrants and refugees who are receiving little assistance both with regard to their material needs and the level of administrative and legal assistance. Some have been sent to centres where, for the most part, they have no access to assistance. Others are still in a vulnerable situation living on the streets, with lodgings only being offered to a limited number of people.
The aim of these factsheets is to provide the information required to submit an asylum application, to assert your rights and to avoid falling into the traps laid out by the French administration.
Caution : always keep a copy of the documents you submit to the authorities never give originals (except passport to Ofpra) Translation in few days : arabic, dari, oromo, urdu and tigrinia.
Articles de cette rubrique
1. Reception of asylum-seekers (the ‘PADA’ reception centre)
2. Initial steps at the one-stop service for asylum application (GUDA : prefecture and Ofii)
3. The Dublin III procedure Dublin (passage through another Member State of the European Union)
4. The asylum request at the Ofpra
5. Appealing against a refusal made by the Ofpra before a court : CNDA
7. The right to work
8. Unaccompanied foreign minors
9. Your family
1. Reception of asylum-seekers (the ‘PADA’ reception centre) In order to apply for asylum in France, you must first of all report to a PADA reception centre (addresses). You may not go directly to the prefecture nor to the Ofpra (French office for the protection of refugees and stateless persons).
Caution : You must go as soon as possible to the PADA. If you state you arrived in France more than 120 days ago, the prefecture will place you in the fast-track process (“procédure accélérée”) (factsheet no. 2-1) Each PADA is managed by an association which works on behalf of the French government.
The role of the PADA is to :
1. Inform you about asylum and provide you with the information documents produced by the Ofii (The French office for immigration and integration), a government body (factsheet no. 2-2)
2. Help you complete the asylum request registration form and to check that the file is complete (four photos), in order to send it to the prefecture. To complete the form, the PADA officer will ask you questions about :
Your civil status (first names and surname, nationality, family makeup) ; The itinerary of your journey from your country of origin ; How you entered French territory ; If you have already requested asylum in France or in Europe… ; All this information will be directly transferred to the prefecture 
Note : even if you do not possess a passport or identity card, the PADA must register your request for asylum and note on the form the information that you provide. The questions about your journey are to check if you have passed through other countries of the European Union in order to, in this case, apply the so-called “Dublin” procedure (factsheet no. 3)
If you do not want to answer these questions or if the prefecture observes that you have given false information, the prefecture can rule that you do not wish to “cooperate” and can place you in the fast-track procedure, which is not in your interests (factsheet no. 2-1).
3. Make an appointment for you at the ‘one-stop service’ at the prefecture within 3 days (or 10 days if the number of asylum-seekers is particularly high) and to provide you with a notification of this appointment.
4. If, after you have gone through the one-stop service, the Ofii does not offer you accommodation in an asylum-seekers reception centre (Cada), you must return to the PADA which must :
Domicile you (i.e. provide you with a fixed address which is very important for receiving mail) ; Fill in the Ofpra asylum request form (factsheet 4-1) ; Help you to write your asylum statement and translate it (factsheet 4-2) ; Help you obtain Universal Health Care Cover (CMU) (factsheet 6) ; Provide you with special assistance (vouchers, food parcels), or direct you to the intercommunal reception service If the PADA does not assist you adequately, you can contact an association which helps asylum-seekers (in Paris or regional-based associations)
Caution : you must go to collect your mail regularly (once a week) ; if not, the PADA will cancel the domiciliation. 2. Initial steps at the one-stop service for asylum application (GUDA : prefecture and Ofii) 2-1. Sorting asylum-seekers by prefecture (normal and fast-track procedure)
After the reception centre ([factsheet no. 1]), you must report to the prefecture on the date indicated on the notification. The prefecture must make an appointment for you within 3 days (or 10 days if the number of asylum-seekers is high).
Caution : do not miss this appointment because it will be difficult to obtain another one. 1. At the prefecture, your fingerprints will be taken to see if you are registered on a Eurodac .
The prefecture will also look for other evidence (or signs) of passage through another country of the European Union : you will be asked questions about your journey, your passport will be examined (to see if there is a visa for any other European country-), as well as other documents that you provide them, to see if you have travelled through another EU country.
Note : even if you do not possess a passport or identity card, the prefecture must record the information that you provide orally. If your fingerprints are stored on a Eurodac file, or if the prefecture finds another indication of your passage through another European country, you will be transferred to the “Dublin” procedure (factsheet no.3). If the prefecture finds no proof that you have travelled through another country of the European Union, you can apply for asylum in France. Note : before reporting to the prefecture, you cannot find out if you are on a Eurodac file or not. The countries that you have travelled through (Italy, Hungary, Greece, etc.) and in which you have gone through screening may not have recorded your fingerprints on the file. Note : if you refuse to provide your fingerprints at the prefecture, you will be automatically placed in the fast-track procedure (see below) 2. The prefecture must provide you with a copy  of the Guide for asylum-seekers in a language that you understand (translations available on the site) and a list of associations that can help you.
Caution : it is essential that you inform the prefecture of any change of address or domiciliation by recorded delivery letter with acknowledgement of receipt. 3. You may be placed either on the ‘normal’, ‘fast-track’ or “Dublin” procedure (“normale”, “accélérée” or “Dublin”) .
Caution : the fast-track procedure is not in your interests. You will be placed on the fast track procedure :
If you do not provide your fingerprints, or if they are illegible or erased ; If you provide false identity documents and the prefecture becomes aware ; If you provide incorrect information about your journey and the prefecture becomes aware ; If the prefecture notices that you have already requested asylum in France under another name ; If you say that you entered France more than 120 days ago ; If you are arrested and the police force you to leave the territory (an “OQTF” – an order to leave French Territory”) and you are placed in a detention facility… Furthermore, the Ofpra will place you in the fast-track procedure if :
you come from a “safe country of origin” ; your request for reassessment is ineligible (very vague term) The prefecture must provide you with a document that explains why you have been placed into the fast-track procedure. Ask for it if they do not give it to you !
Note : No appeal is possible against placement in the fast-track procedure. You can only appeal against this decision before the Cour nationale du droit d’asile (CNDA). Important : it is possible – if you have been mistakenly placed in the fast-track procedure – to send a letter to the OFPRA to request that it transfers you to the normal procedure. The Ofpra has only 2 weeks to decide your fate. The Ofpra may not even request you to attend an interview. In this case, you will not be able to make your statement : it is therefore very important to carefully prepare your written asylum statement on the Ofpra form (factsheet no.4-2).
If your asylum application is rejected by the Ofpra, only one judge will examine your appeal to the CNDA (instead of 3 under the normal procedure). This judge makes their ruling within 5 weeks instead of five months, which means there is less time to examine your appeal.
4. You receive your asylum application acknowledgement
Note : For those people who submitted their request before the 1 November 2015, the previous system for receipts remains. The prefecture will provide you with an “attestation de demande d’asile” (asylum application acknowledgement), valid for 1 month, which will indicate in which procedure you have been placed (“normal”, “fast-track” or “Dublin”). This document proves that you are an asylum-seeker : you must have it on your person in case you are stopped and checked by the police (the original or a photocopy).
You must return to the prefecture to renew this acknowledgement at the date indicated on the notification, with :
The asylum application acknowledgement ; The Ofpra registration letter or an acknowledgement of receipt ; Two photos ; Proof of residence Note : the prefecture will provide you with, in addition to the receipt,a renewal appointment date. It is possible that the date for this appointment is outside the period of validity of the asylum application acknowledgement, but your protection will still be maintained. Under the normal procedure, the second asylum application acknowledgement is valid for 9 months, then renewable every 6 months. Under the fast-track procedure, it is valid for 6 months, then renewable every 3 months.
Caution : in some prefectures (e.g. Paris), if your receipt has expired and you have still not received a reply from the Ofpra, it is essential that you report to the prefecture to request a renewal 2 weeks before the end of the acknowledgement’s period of validity. Important : you are advised to send the file to the OFPRA by recorded delivery with acknowledgement of receipt in order to obtain a proof of submission. You may then report to the prefecture with the photocopy of the proof that you have sent the file.
In case of an appeal before the CNDA, the acknowledgement will only be renewed upon presentation of the receipt of the appeal.
Caution : the asylum application acknowledgement does not permit you to freely travel between other countries of the European Union. The prefecture can refuse to provide you with an acknowledgement if it is your second request for reassessment. This refusal can be appealed before the administrative court.
If the Ofpra rejects your asylum application acknowledgement or declares it ineligible (factsheet no. 4-1), your asylum application acknowledgement will not be renewed.
5. The prefecture must also provide you with the Ofpra form (factsheet no. 4-1).
2-2. The role of the Ofii (French office for immigration and integration)
The Ofii, a government body, must inform you of your rights and deal with your accommodation and your asylum-seeker’s allowance (ADA).
Caution : the Ofii will offer you the chance to sign the “l’offre de prise en charge” (a formal agreement for assistance) to obtain accommodation and asylum-seeker’s allowance. If you accept this agreement, you may be allocated lodgings and the allowance. If you refuse, you will not have the right to anything. 1. Accommodation
The Ofii must offer you accommodation according to the number of places available at the Asylum-seekers’ reception centre (Cada), at a temporary reception centre for asylum (AT-SA, emergency accommodation) or in emergency accommodation for asylum-seekers (Huda). It consults the DN@ file (national file for the management of Cada places).
If the Ofii does not provide you with an offer of accommodation,it will direct you to the Reception centre (PADA). You will be instructed to call 115 in order to find emergency accommodation by yourself.
The reception centres may have different operating rules but they are all subject to the same obligations (general conditions), in particular with regard to administrative, medical and social assistance (see the centre operating rules).
2. Postal address
If you are provided with “long-term” lodgings in a centre, you will be able to use this address for your asylum procedure. The postal address declaration form will be filled in by the centre. If you are not accommodated in a centre, you must return to the PADA (factsheet no.1) which will provide you with a postal address to receive your mail.
Caution : you must collect your mail regularly (once a week). If you do not go to the PADA for one month, the PADA can close your address  Note : you can be “domiciled” at an individual person’s address, but you must explain that it is only a postal address, not personal accommodation. 3. The asylum-seeker’s allowance (ADA)
The PADA will provide you with an information document about ADA. It is advisable to open a bank account (at the ‘Banque postale’) before going to the prefecture in order to provide bank account details (a “RIB”) for the account into which you will receive ADA payments.
To open an account : you need the asylum application acknowledgement and a valid address. In case of any difficulties, you can ask the PADA or the accommodation centre for assistance (see "how to open an account").
The ADA amount is 6.80 euros per day and per person on their own + 3.40 euros per additional person : partner or child(ren) (4,20 euros more for people without house).
To receive ADA, you need :
To be over 18 years old ; To declare that your income is less than the French “revenue de solidarité active” (RSA – a welfare benefit) : 513.88 euros for one adult on their own) ; An asylum application acknowledgement (or a receipt) To have accepted and signed the “offre de prise en charge” at the Ofii ; Have submitted the Ofpra form within the last 21 days (except for persons under the Dublin procedure – factsheet 3). You will receive the ADA throughout your asylum procedure at the end of every month following the notification of the Ofpra or the CNDA decision, or up to the date of transfer for persons under the Dublin procedure.
ADA is not granted in cases of reassessment of your asylum request.
Your allowance may be discontinued if :
You refuse an offer of accommodation without a legitimate reason ; You have missed one or more appointments at the prefecture or the Ofii ; You have left your accommodation without reason for a period of 5 days. In any of the above cases, the decision to discontinue ADA must be in writing and justifiable.
For information about the ADA : Ofii call centre number : 01.41.17.73.23
The Ofii will conduct a personal interview with you to find out if you are a “vulnerable” asylum-seeker . For example, a person who is deemed “vulnerable” may be handicapped, pregnant or ill.
You will then be a priority case for accommodation which must be suitable for your particular needs.
Note : this information may be provided to you at the Ofpra. 3. The Dublin III procedure Dublin (passage through another Member State of the European Union) Only one Member State is responsible for the assessment of an asylum request in the European Union.
According to the Dublin III regulation, it is :
Either the country through which you entered the EU and in which you have been screened ; Or the country which granted you a visa or a residence permit. Other criteria may be applied (e.g. minority group, family links).
3-1. In France it is the prefecture which determines the Member State responsible for each asylum request.
To do so, it consults :
The Eurodac file in which your fingerprints will be recorded if they were taken in another Member State of the European Union (28 countries in the European Union and 4 associated countries : Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein). Before reporting to the prefecture, it is not possible to find out if you appear or not in the Eurodac file. The countries in which you have already been screened may not have recorded your fingerprints on the file. Caution : the prefecture will take your fingerprints during your first appointment. Taking of fingerprints is obligatory. If you refuse, the prefecture will place you in the fast-track procedure (procédure accélérée) (factsheet 2-1). The Visabio file to check whether you have obtained a visa for another EU country ; Your declarations at the one-stop service at the prefecture (factsheet 2-1) and the information factsheet transferred from the PADA (factsheet 1). The prefecture will be very attentive regarding declarations about your journey to get to France and the visa on your passport if you possess one. If it is proved that you have travelled through another EU country, you are placed in the Dublin procedure ; you will then attend an individual interview. The prefecture must provide you with an information brochure on the Dublin procedure in a language that you understand.
Even if it is not the State responsible for the asylum request, France still has the possibility to assess your request. This is why you must provide the prefecture with any information which could encourage the French authorities to assess your asylum application, such as :
Having received a residence permit or a visa from France in the past ; The legal presence in France of members of your family, who are seeking asylum or who are protected ; Ill treatment you have experienced while in the EU country to which it is intended to return you. Note : If you provide this information at the time of the interview, we also advise you to send them as soon as possible to the prefecture by recorded delivery with acknowledgement of receipt. You will then have proof that you have provided this information and, in the case of an appeal against the decision to place you in the Dublin procedure, the lawyer or association representing you can use it. You can also have someone come with you to the prefecture who can witness on their honour that you have provided this information.
3-2. Consequences of your asylum request
The Dublin procedure can last several months. During this time :
You cannot make a request for asylum in France. The prefecture will provide you with a special asylum application acknowledgement under the “Dublin procedure” ; You have the same rights as other asylum-seekers (asylum-seeker’s allowance, protection against illness, education of your children…) but you do not have the right to a place in an accommodation centre for asylum-seekers (Cada) ; You can be placed under house arrest (6 months renewable once) during the procedure and even be placed in a detention centre, before being sent to the State responsible for your asylum request. When the State responsible has given its approval, a transfer ruling is notified. You may contest this decision before the administrative court.
Beware of the deadlines : You must present your case to the administrative court within 2 weeks (the court has 2 weeks to hand down its decision). If you are placed under detention or house arrest : you must bring your case before the court less than 48 hours after receiving the transfer ruling. Your transfer cannot take place either before the end of this period or before a judge has made his/her decision. If you appeal your transfer decision, indicate if you have been subjected to ill treatment in the State to which it is intended to return you, or if the reception conditions of refugees in this country are poor (the state has defaulted). These two arguments are important when appealing the transfer.
You may ask the presiding judge of the administrative court for a lawyer.
Important : if you have not been transferred within 6 months counting from the day when the contacted country gave its approval, France becomes automatically responsible for your asylum request and you can return to the PADA. This period is increased to 12 months if you are in prison or 18 months if you are declared to be “on the run”, i.e. if you have not attended several appointments at the prefecture. Caution : this 6-month period is interrupted by any appeal against the transfer decision. If your appeal is rejected, the countdown to the deadline continues again from the date of the rejection. 4. The asylum request at the Ofpra 4-1. Submission of the asylum request at the Ofpra (French office for the protection of refugees and stateless persons)
After the appointment at the prefecture, you must fill in the Ofpra asylum request form in French. Do not forget to date and sign it. You must then send it by recorded delivery with acknowledgment of receipt or hand it in to the Ofpra within 21 days of the date on which you obtained the asylum application acknowledgement (factsheet no. 2-1).
Important : it is advisable to send the file to the Ofpra by recorded delivery with acknowledgement of receipt, in order to obtain a proof of submission. You may also, if the Ofpra is late in sending out its registration letters, report to the prefecture in order to renew the acknowledgement with the photocopy of the proof of submission of the file. You must also provide 2 recent identity photos, a copy of the asylum application acknowledgement and any document useful for your asylum statement (see below). If you have a passport you must provide the original. Caution : you must keep photocopies of your entire file (Ofpra form, asylum statement, accompanying documents). If the Opra considers that your file is complete,you will receive a letter of “registration of asylum request”.
1. The different sections of the Ofpra form
Civil status section : make sure that you correctly fill in the fields regarding your civil status, because if you make a mistake, an amendment can be requested from the public prosecutor, but the reply will take a long time ; Family members section : this part is very important if you arrived on your own in France and at a later date you wish to bring your family here (factsheet no.9) ; Itinerary section : copy the information provided to the PADA, in particular the date of your arrival in France, which is an important piece of information ; You must indicate what language you speak so that the Ofpra can provide an interpreter during your interview : ask for an interpreter in your native language (specify your dialect). Do not indicate a language which you do not speak perfectly ; Asylum statement section : this is the most important section because an asylum claim is a request for protection based on your personal statement and your fear of persecution (see below). The form can be completed at any time (up to the date of the interview). You must send any additional information and any copies of documents supporting your claim of fear of persecution by recorded delivery letter with acknowledgement of receipt to the Ofpra.
Note : It is essential that you inform the Ofpra of any change of address by recorded delivery letter with acknowledgement of receipt. 2. Closure of your asylum claim by the Ofpra
If you do not send the form to the Ofpra within 21 days without a “valid reason”, the Ofpra will ask you to resolve the situation within 8 days. If you miss this deadline, the Ofpra will close your asylum application. A “valid reason” could be, for example, a change of address or a serious medical problem. The Ofpra can close your application if you refuse to provide information regarding your history, your identity, your nationality, etc., or if you have not informed it of your address within a reasonable period. Following the decision to close your file, you may ask for it to be reopened within a period of 9 months.
3. The Ofpra can rule that your claim is ineligible
If you are recognised as a refugee by another Member State of the European Union or a third country (as long as the protection is authentic and that you are able to be readmitted there) ; If you make a request for reassessment without providing any “new evidence”. New evidence must be pertinent and must support your claims of “personal fears”. This new evidence must have arrived after the procedure at the CNDA (factsheet 5), otherwise you must prove that you had no knowledge of it before the hearing. 4. The Ofpra can place you into the fast-track procedure (procedure accélerée)
After receiving your asylum claim form, the Ofpra can also decide to place you in the fast-track procedure :
In case of “fraud” : false declarations, false documents… ; If you only raise issues that are not relevant (very weak asylum case) ; If your declarations are “manifestly inconsistent and contradictory”. The Ofpra will place you automatically in the fast-track procedure if :
You come from a “safe country of origin” ; Your request for reassessment is ineligible (very vague concept). Your claim will be assessed within 2 weeks. These cases may be possible in addition to the possibilities for the prefect to place a person in the fast-track procedure (factsheet no. 2-1).
Regarding these complex concepts : please see the Guide for Asylum-seekers produced by the authorities (in several languages).
4.2 The asylum statement
Your asylum statement must explain in a precise manner :
Who you are Where you come from Why you have been forced to flee your country and seek the protection of another country You must also state your fears regarding returning to your country ; what serious problems for your life or your safety would you risk if you were sent back to your country of origin. Describing situations of trouble or war which may exist in your country is not sufficient : you must describe your personal history and convince the person who reads your statement that you personally have been the victim of persecution, or that members of your family, people close to you, or comrades-in-arms have been killed or have been subject to persecution, which implies a threat to your own safety.
Note : if you do not speak French, you must find someone who can translate your statement into French. If the translation or interpretation conditions are not ideal, indicate this in your statement. France provides interpreters for people who do not speak French for the interview with the Ofpra and for the hearing at the CNDA, but not for the asylum statement. 1. Who are you ? State :
Your full name, your nationality, your date and place of birth ; Which country you come from, and specifically, which region, which village or which district of a town (the Ofpra will ask you questions about this subject to check if you really are from this region) ; Who are or who were your parents and your brothers and sisters (state their current situation : name, age, address of residence, occupation, marital status…) ; Any ethnic or religious group you may belong to, or membership of any minority that is subject to discrimination… ; Your current family status : married or in a civil partnership or single, your children (age, gender), state if these members of your family are in France, remain in your country of origin, or if they are deceased. 2. Your personal history :
Where you grew up and in what circumstances ; Education, studies undertaken, vocational training… ; The occupations that you held in your country, the source and amount of revenue you had (a shop, a farm, a trade, or another profession…) ; The different places you have lived and the reasons for moving ; How your personal and family situation has evolved : your work history, how you met your partner, the birth of your children, any illnesses... ; Any other activities : your membership of a political party, a trade union, a religious group a fellowship, an association… (describe this group, state its significance, its objectives and its characteristics) ; How you came to join this party, trade union, etc. ; what was your exact role and your level of responsibility (basic or active member) ; Your participation in any protests, public meetings, collective actions, social movements, guerrilla activities… (which precise activities you participated in, when and how many times) ; According to your personal history, indicate if you have been subject to discrimination or persecution as a result of these activities, or because of your sexual orientation, your belonging to an ethnic group or your opposition to an arranged marriage… Note : if you have been a member of an armed group and you have committed crimes, France can refuse to grant you refugee status. 3. What incidents or dramatic events forced you to leave :
Threats received (who ? when ? how ?) ; Prevention of exercising your profession or occupation ; Racketeering, confiscation of belongings, extortion, blackmail, different types of coercion ; Physical attacks, destruction of belongings, eviction from your home ; Arrests, violent interrogations, beatings, torture, rape (dates, circumstances, perpetrators of the violence to which you were subject…) ; Trials, sentences, periods in prison (dates, locations, precise description of these locations, persons involved…) ; Arrests, beatings and injuries, rape or murder of parents, friends, colleagues or other members of a group to which you belonged ; Forced exodus ; Massacre, genocide ; Important : describe your personal history with as much detail as possible of the events, indicating who were your persecutors, how they behaved, any means of defence you used, any help you received… What steps you took to request protection from the authorities in your country (making a complaint, initiation of legal proceedings, letters or visits from civil servants…) ; What the outcome of these initiatives was. Note : in cases of physical and/or psychological after-effects, it is important to provide a medical certificate, even a recent one. 4. What route did you take to get to France :
At what precise moment did you decide to leave ; How was this departure organised (funds raised, help received, contact made with smugglers…) ; The choice of country in which you are seeking asylum (why ?) ; The exact itinerary with the dates, the different stages, the means of transport used, the cost. 5. What could happen to your if you returned to your country today :
What changes have occurred in your region of origin since your departure ; Do you risk being subject to the same persecutions as before ? Would the threats you received be carried out ; Do you risk the same fate as your parents or friends who have suffered or died as a result of the situation you described before or since your departure ; Why would you not be safe in another town or another region of your country of origin Caution : You must state what you fear at the present moment regarding a return to your country (even if you left it a long time ago). 6. Evidence to submit with your statement :
You are not obliged to provide evidence of the different information regarding your asylum statement : the main purpose is to provide a statement that is sufficiently precise, consistent and non-contradictory, to be credible and to convince the Ofpra case officer.
However, in addition to the information that you provide, do not hesitate to provide documents that add credibility (witness statements, administrative documents, press articles, medical certificates…).
Caution : never include original copies of documents in the file (only copies). You can show the originals, if you have them, on the day of your interview. 4-3 The interview with the Ofpra protection officer
1. Request to attend interview with the Ofpra You will receive a notfication to report to the Ofpra at the latest 2 weeks before the interview. The Ofpra may waive the possibility of inviting you to a personal interview :
If it intends to make a decision recognising your status as a refugee (this is unusual) ; If, for serious medical reasons, which are beyond your control, you cannot attend this interview. In this instance, you must send medical evidence by recorded delivery with acknowledgement of receipt to the Ofpra as soon as possible. If the Ofpra decides that your claim is ineligible or decides to close your file (see above), you will not be asked to attend this interview.
If you cannot attend the interview and you have no valid reason, the Ofpra can decide to refuse or close your file without assessing the grounds for your claim.
2. What will happen in the confidential interview The interview is very important : it is conducted by a protection officer responsible for recording your asylum statement and for making a positive or negative decision
It is extremely important that you prepare for this meeting with an association, or at least with friends, before going to the Ofpra. The interview is crucial because it is at this point that everything is decided : you must convince the Ofpra officer that you need protection.
The officer will ask you questions to obtain more details about your asylum statement. If he/she does not ask you questions, describe yourself the event which forced you to leave your country (see above).
If you have not given a passport or an identity document, it is important to prove your nationality by providing detailed information about your country.
Caution : You must state what you fear at the present moment regarding a return to your country (even if you left it a long time ago). In principle, the officer must always ask you a final “open” question to allow you to provide other information regarding your history or to complete your declarations. If you still have something to say, do so at the end of the interview. The interview takes place in the offices of the Ofpra (or by conference call in exceptional cases) in the presence of :
Yourself. The protection officer. You may be interviewed by an officer of the same sex if your asylum statement includes incidents of sexual assault. a lawyer or an association if you request it. At the date of writing, the associations which are entitled to accompany you are : Ardhis, Anafé, Cimade, Forum réfugiés, Coordination lesbienne en France, CQFD Fierté lesbienne, Ordre de Malte. This accompanying person must inform the Ofpra of their presence 7 days before the interview (4 days in the case of a fast-track procedure). During the interview, the accompanying person may take notes and provide observations at the end of the meeting (about the statement, but also about any problems : difficulties of understanding, difficulties with interpreting, attitudes, facts not mentioned by the protection officer…). The interpreter in the language indicated on the Ofpra form. It is recommended that you request an interpreter who speaks your native language (specify your dialect). This will avoid any direct translation by the protection officer into a language of which you have less knowledge. The interpreter’s presence is free. You can request an interpreter of the same gender if your asylum statement describes sexual assault. Members of your family : in principle, you are interviewed without the presence of members of your family. But if the Ofpra deems it necessary, it can undertake a complementary interview in the presence of members of your family. Note : the interview is recorded, where possible. You will be informed of this. You can obtain access to the recording. The interview is transcribed in a report (unamendable) which is sent to you with the decision. 3. Assessment and the Ofpra decision The Ofpra must as a rule decide within 6 months of the date of the interview, but this period may be longer. In the case of a fast-track procedure, the period is 2 weeks.
The officer will check if your statement is consistent with the situation in your country of origin. Next, he/she will study your asylum claim to see if you fall under the definition of refugee status according to the Geneva convention– articles 1 and 2 (10-year residence permit) or if you may benefit from subsidiary protection under article L.712-1 of the Ceseda (1-year residence permit).
The decision must be justified when it is negative : it includes the summary of reasons for which the Ofpra has not granted protection.
The decision will be sent to you by recorded delivery with acknowledgement of receipt.
In case of rejection, the date of reception of the decision is fundamental because you have 1 month from this date to make an appeal (factsheet no. 5). It is therefore vital to immediately inform the Ofpra if you change your address.
5. Appealing against a refusal made by the Ofpra before a court : CNDA If your asylum claim is rejected by the Ofpra, you may make an appeal against this decision before the National court of asylum (CNDA). The appeal must be submitted within 1 month of the date on which you received the decision.
Caution : the recorded delivery letter from the Ofpra informing you of refusal of asylum must be collected from the post office within 2 weeks. If not, it will be returned to the Ofpra and the date to be taken into account for the appeal will be that which is indicated on the Ofpra’s decision. 5-1. The request for legal aid (AJ) (la demande d’aide juridictionnelle)
Although not obligatory, it is advisable to take on a lawyer. You can make a request for legal aid to have a free lawyer (according to your income). The request must be made to the CNDA, at the “bureau d’aide juridictionnelle”, 35 rue Cuvier 93558 Montreuil-sous-Bois cedex.
You can fill in the legal aid form or make the request on a blank sheet of paper.
Caution : do not forget to attach a copy of the refusal decision from the Ofpra. It’s better if you submit your request for legal aid within 2 weeks of the Ofpra decision because you will have 1 month from the date of the reply from the legal aid office to submit your appeal ; If you submit your request for legal aid more than 2 weeks after having received the Ofpra decision, you must, at the same time as you request legal aid, submit the appeal request to the CNDA within one month of the Ofpra decision. You may also select your own lawyer. Caution : after 1 month appeal is not possible to make an appeal. 5-2. Appeal
The appeal must be written in French and addressed to the president of the CNDA by recorded delivery letter with acknowledgement of receipt or by fax (01.48.18.44.20). You may also submit the file directly on site, at the court clerk’s office.
Note : do not forget to attach a copy of the Ofpra refusal. The appeal must include your first name and surname, date and place of birth, nationality and your address.
It must explain the reasons for which you are appealing against the Ofpra decision. _ It must include responses to the parts contested by the Ofpra or omissions : describe your political activities, provide more information on a timeline contested by the Ofpra, amend incorrect data in the written claim or during the interview with the Ofpra, etc.
You can send the supporting evidence or documents up to the closing date of the appeal appraisal period indicated on the appointment letter (by recorded delivery letter with acknowledgement of receipt or by fax (01.48.18.44.20). You should note down the appeal registration number in your letter.
If you have a lawyer, you should decide together if you are to add any documents to the appeal or not. The judges examine these documents carefully : particularly their date, their author and the means by which they were obtained. The judges will ask you questions about this information. You can for example, add documents, drawn up in your country or in France, which confirm your fears due to political activity or a particular situation (proof of militant activity, religious practice, homosexual relationships in France...).
You may also send medical certificates which provide evidence of wounds or scarring. The judges will take these into account.
Note : Do not attach evidence which has no relevance to the request for protection, for example, a medical certificate proving that you are ill or evidence of your integration in France. Caution : if the additional document was sent to you by a third party and you have doubts about its authenticity, it is preferable not to include it in your file. You must have any evidence written in a foreign language translated into French. If you include excerpts of association reports or press articles about the situation in your country, it is preferable to have them translated into French (ordinary translation) or English. Legal or civil status documents must be translated by accredited translators. The judges may take into account ordinary translations but if these documents are important for your case history, it is preferable to have them translated by an accredited translator (for a fee).
When you submit your appeal, the CNDA will send you an acknowledgement with a file number which will allow you to renew your asylum application acknowledgement.
The appeal before the CNDA is suspensive : you cannot be returned to your country before the CNDA has made its decision. If you are placed in the normal procedure (factsheet 2-1), the CNDA has 5 months to make a decision. If you are placed in the fast-track procedure (factsheet 2-1) :
In addition to the appeal against the Ofpra decision, you can contest the decision to be placed in the fast-track procedure (obtain assistance from a lawyer) ; The decision will be made by a single judge within 5 weeks. 5-3. The hearing
The hearing is public but you may request that it be held in camera (no members of the public present). The CNDA is located in the Paris area (Montreuil, 93) : you must have sufficient funds to pay for transport to attend the hearing if you live a long way away. Your presence at the hearing is very important.
Caution : you must prepare for the hearing ; go over your asylum statement again, any points which were problematic for the Ofpra and the fears that you have regarding your return to your country of origin on the day of the hearing. If you live in the Paris area, you can attend hearings at the CNDA in order to observe how they work. The CNDA’s decision is posted on the ground floor and sent 3 weeks after the hearing by recorded delivery.
5-4. If the CNDA grants your appeal and awards you protection
If the CNDA quashes the Ofpra decision and grants you refugee status or subsidiary protection, the prefecture has to send you a receipt within 6 months. If the Ofpra has granted you subsidiary protection, you may appeal against this decision before the CNDA and request refugee status. You will however maintain your subsidiary protection.
5-5. If the CNDA rejects your appeal
You may make an appeal to the Conseil d’État, within a period of 2 months. The Conseil d’État will not reassess your asylum statement but only if the rules of procedure have been correctly observed by the CNDA.
Note : this appeal is quite difficult to make and has little chance of succeeding. Furthermore, you will have to pay a lawyer attached to the Conseil d’État who will be more expensive (legal aid is very difficult to obtain). You can make a request for reassessment of your asylum claim : you may request the reassessment of your claim if you can provide new information (either the new information arrived after the CNDA hearing, or you did not have knowledge of it before this hearing). Any new fact must be relevant and must reinforce your argument about personal fear of persecution. In this case, you must report directly to the prefecture (without going to the PADA). If the Ofpra refuses your claim a second time, a new appeal before the CNDA is possible, within a period of 1 month.
5-6. If you are refused asylum
If the CNDA has refused your request, you may be able to request a residence permit if you meet certain conditions (state of health, family situation, professional integration). To do so, contact a specialist association or an undocumented migrants group.
It is advisable to begin proceedings with the prefecture before the authorities make a decision to remove you from the country.
6. Health All asylum-seekers have the right to health insurance, even if you are in the “fast-track” procedure (factsheet 2-1) or in the “Dublin procedure” (factsheet 3). You do not have to prove that you been residing in France for more than 3 months.
You have the right to a free complementary health insurance scheme (universal complementary healthcare cover or “CMU-C”) if you are on a low income (less than 750 euros per month approximately).
Health insurance and the CMU-C allow you to avoid charges and you do not have to pay medical fees or medication fees up front.
To obtain this, you must go to the healthcare insurance office (CPAM) of your place of residence on the date indicated on the appointment letter that the PADA (factsheet 1) or the Ofii (factsheet 2-2) will give you.
Note : it is important to attend this appointment. If you do not attend, it will be difficult to obtain another one. At your appointment, you must present :
The asylum application acknowledgement that the prefecture gave you when your claim was registered ; The proof of residence that your accommodation centre or the PADA gave to you. When you have obtained the health insurance and the CMU-C, you can go to the doctor or the hospital for free. While waiting for the delivery of your ‘carte vitale’ (healthcare insurance card) with your photo, you only need the document proving you are insured.
If you need help in these steps, you can contact :
The association which is helping you to prepare your asylum claim file ; The organisation which is providing your accommodation ; A community social centre (CCAS) ; The social services department of the hospital. While waiting to obtain health insurance, you can go to the department for access to healthcare (permanences d’accès aux soins de santé [PASS]) which is present in some hospitals. A social worker will assess your social situation and help you find a doctor.
You may also contact the reception and orientation centres (Caso) run by the Médecins du Monde association :
62 bis avenue Parmentier 75011 Paris from 9.00am to 12.00pm – arrive at 8.30am to take a ticket ; 8-10 rue des blés 93210 La plaine Saint Denis on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9.00am to 1.00pm and from 2.00pm to 5.00pm ; on Wednesdays from 2.00pm to 5.00pm and on Fridays from 9.00am to 1.00pm. 7. The right to work You do not have the right to work during the first few months of your asylum claim in France. However, you can request an authorisation to salaried work 9 months after the submission of your asylum claim :
If the Ofpra has not made its decision regarding your asylum claim ; If an appeal has been submitted to the Cour nationale du droit d’asile (CNDA). How to obtain this work permit
1. Find an employer and get them to complete a file including :
A contract of employment (it has to be for a period longer than 3 months) made up on a special form (instructions) ; Several documents regarding the company. 2. Report to the prefecture of your department of residence with this file. The prefecture may grant or refuse a work permit (for example if there are many unemployed persons in France who could hold this post…). In case of refusal, you can appeal this decision before a court : to do so, contact an association for the protection of foreigners or a lawyer.
When you have obtained a work permit, you may begin working for this employer.
Caution : you must not change employer ; the work permit is only valid for the employment contract that you have presented to the prefecture. At the end of your contract (fixed term, interim work), or in the case of involuntary redundancy, you have the right to :
Register with Pôle emploi ; Possibly benefit from vocational training (contact Pôle emploi for details). 8. Unaccompanied foreign minors 8-1. To obtain assistance
You are classed as an unaccompanied foreign minor if you are less than 18 years old and you have no legal representative in France. France has the obligation to protect you until you reach adulthood (18 years old), even if you have not made an asylum application.
You have the right to make an asylum application. However, you are advised to start by requesting a child protection procedure from the ASE (accommodation, schooling…).
To decide if it will take responsibility for you, the child social assistance service (ASE) of your department will check during an interview that you are less than 18 years old and that you are genuinely unaccompanied in France :
You must describe your journey from your country of origin ; If you have identity papers, they will be examined. Caution : the ASE cannot refuse to offer you protection based solely on the reason that a member of your family is in France (but who cannot or does not wish to look after you) or that a person who is providing you with temporary housing. 1. Where to go for an assessment interview ?
In certain departments, you must go to the Conseil départemental where the ASE is located.
In other departments, you must go to the reception and evaluation centre (PADA) :
In Paris : the centre is called “la DEMIE” (evaluation unit for unaccompanied foreign minors – Red Cross) : 5 rue du Moulin Joly 75011 Paris(metro Couronnes, line 2). It may be several days before you can attend an evaluation interview. Open : monday, tuesday, thursday and friday (9 am to 6 pm) and wenesday (11 am to 6 pm) ; In Seine-Saint-Denis (93), it is “la PEMIE” :1-15 rue Benoît Frachon 93000 Bobigny ; In Val-de-Marne (94), it is “la PEOMIE” : 6 rue Albert Einstein 94000 Créteil. While waiting for your protection decision, the ASE has to provide shelter for you. Two tp three days after the interview, you must go to collect the ASE’s decision from the place where you had this interview.
2. If the ASE refuses to offer you assistance
You can make a direct request at the children’s court to order the ASE to assist you. This procedure may take several months. You do not have to wait for the court’s decision to apply for asylum.
If you live in the Paris area, you can get help in this process by going to the offices of the ADJIE (assistance and protection of young unaccompanied foreign nationals) : 49 ter avenue de Flandres 75019 Paris (metro Stalingrad, lines 2, 5 and 7). In other regions, there are probably associations that can help you.
8-2. To make an asylum application as an unaccompanied minor
Requesting assistance from the ASE does not prevent you from requesting asylum. The procedure is the same as for an adult. You must be represented by an ad-hoc guardian (AAH) to make and submit your request. This person will represent you and assist you in this process. The AAH does not necessarily have extensive knowledge of asylum : you must ask for help from one of the specialist associations. The prefecture has to contact the public prosecutor to request them to provide you with an AAH (even if you are receiving assistance from the ASE).
You may be placed into the fast-track procedure (factsheet no. 2-1) :
you come from a “safe country of origin” ; your request for reassessment is ineligible if you are considered as a threat to the public security. You cannot be placed in the “Dublin” procedure (factsheet no. 3). France has to assess your asylum claim even if you have already made an application which has received no answer, or you have given your fingerprints in another European country.
As a minor, you cannot be placed in accommodation in an asylum-seekers’ reception centre (Cada), nor receive the asylum-seeker’s allowance (ADA). Only the ASE may accommodate unaccompanied minors.
9. Your family In your Ofpra form, do not forget to state the names, dates and places of birth of your partner or spouse, the date of your marriage, even if it was a religious marriage (factsheet no. 4-1). Also state the names, dates and places of birth of your children. If you are not sure about a date, state “approximate date” in brackets.
If you are granted refugee status or subsidiary protection, members of your family have rights :
Your spouse, civil partner, or your common-law spouse ; Your children and those of your spouse, civil union partner, or your common-law spouse ; Your ascendants if you are a minor and not married. 9-1. You were married before your asylum claim
The marriage (or civil partnership, Pacs), must have taken place before your asylum claim. In case of common-law marriage, you must have had a stable and continuous relationship with your spouse (actual cohabitation).
If your family is in France :
if you have refugee status, the members of your family have the right, under certain conditions, to a 10-year residence permit ; If you have subsidiary protection, they have the right, under certain conditions, to a 1-year temporary residence permit, renewable for a period of 2 years. If your family is in another country :
You can request “réunification familiale” : no r regarding income, accommodation, ability to speak French or length of residence in France are required. As soon as you have been granted protection, the members of your family must request a long-stay visa from the French consular authorities overseas. They must provide their passports, visa request forms (cerfa no.14571*02), acknowledgement of protection provided by the Ofpra and any documents which prove their family link to you : birth certificates, wedding certificates, identity cards, school records, photographs, etc.
Other evidence may be requested regarding your family makeup. People who you know can attest to family links, by providing precise written witness statements, together with a copy of their identity documents. You can also provide detailed invoices of telephone calls, call logs for Skype and Viber, etc.), letters, e-mails, receipts for money transfers, etc.
Caution : the members of your family must request the visa from the French consular authorities in the country in which they legally reside or from the country of their nationality. Note : if you make a trip to see your family, to a country other than your country of origin, keep a copy of your travel documents with stamps on them, your plane tickets and your receipts. Take photos with your family, with the date on the photos. 9-2. You were married after your asylum claim
If you are an asylum-seeker or refugee and you are living in France, you have the right to marry (CJ mariage) and to sign a civil partnership (NP Pacs).
If your family is in France :
If you have refugee status, the members of your family have the right under certain conditions, to a 10-year residence permit ; If you have subsidiary protection, the members of your family have the right under certain conditions, to a 1-year temporary residence permit, renewable for a period of 2 years. Caution : your marriage or civil partnership must have taken place more than 1 year ago and you must still be cohabiting. If your family is in another country :
You can request a “regroupement familial” like other foreign nationals. The conditions are strict : holding a residence permit for over 18 months, stable income (minimum wage at least), appropriate accommodation. Note : If you want to get married overseas, in order for your marriage to be recognised in France, you have to publish the banns of marriage at the town hall of your place of residence. The town hall must send a certificate of absence of obstacles to marriage (“un certificat de non opposition”) to the French consulate of the country in which you were married. This certificate is obligatory so that the consulate can provide you with a certificate of legal capacity to marry (“certificat de capacité à marriage”) to allow you to register your marriage. Your marriage will not be recognised if you get married under a polygamous system. Caution : you must send a copy of your wedding certificate with its translation, by recorded delivery, to the Ofpra. 9-3. You are an unmarried minor
If your parents are in France :
if you have refugee status, your parents can be granted, under certain conditions, a 10-year residence permit ; If you have subsidiary protection, they can be granted a 1-year temporary residence permit, renewable for a period of 2 years. If your parents are in another country :
You can request “réunification familiale” for your parents. 9-4. Appeal
In case of refusal for a visa for your family, you can make an appeal, in the first instance before the Commission of appeals against visa refusal, and later before the Nantes administrative court. Contact an association for more information, but be advised that the deadline for appeal is very short.
Whether you are an asylum-seeker or a refugee, your children have the right to be enrolled in schools which are located in your place of residence (between the ages of 3 and 16 years).
For persons who benefit from protection in France, divorce is subject to French law. If one of the two persons does not have protection, they may be subject to the law of their country. It is therefore recommended to contact the appropriate migrant protection associations or lawyers.
 The form, along with a photograph taken by a webcam, will be sent to the prefecture. This automatic data transfer will allow the authorities to check if the person is already on an existing file : AGDREF, FPR, Visabio, VIS, Eurodac, Europol, SIS II...
 Eurodac (database of fingerprints for asylum-seekers and migrants screened while crossing an external border of the European Union, as required by the Dublin regulation – factsheet no. 3)
 Caution : if the prefecture does not provide you with a copy of this guide, this can later be used by a lawyer to have the decision revoked to transfer you to another EU country under the “Dublin” procedure. If the request for asylum is examined by the French authorities, you should inform the Ofpra and the CNDA that you have not received this guide.
 See the Government memorandum (“circulaire”) dated 2 November 2015.
 Except in the case of a justifiable absence (Ceseda, art. R. 744-3).
 A form is provided for this purpose (family and social situation, questions about your accommodation needs, accessibility needs, questions on any possible health problems, etc.)
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