Asylum procedure in France

Type of Content: Online Guide

Description: Information on asylum procedure, rights and places of counseling.

Link and Contact: http://www.immigration.interieur.gouv.fr/content/download/89754/697774/file/Guide-DA-France_EN_nov.2015.pdf

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Asylum Seekers FAQ

I want to apply for asylum in France

What is the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee?

An asylum seeker is a foreign part of a procedure for recognition of refugee status or subsidiary protection.

A refugee or beneficiary of subsidiary protection is an alien who has obtained a favorable response to his request for asylum and therefore is allowed to stay in France.

Asylum seekers and refugees are not undocumented immigrants or economic migrants.

What requirements must I meet to obtain refugee status?

Refugee status is governed by an international text adopted in 1951, signed by many countries, including France, and called the Geneva Convention.

According to Article 1A2 of the Geneva Convention, you can get refugee status in France if:
- You are out of your country of origin;
- You cannot or do not want to seek protection of your country of origin;
- You fear of persecution for one of the following reasons: your "race" or ethnic origin, religion, nationality, political opinions, or membership to certain social groups.
Economic reasons do not allow you to obtain the protection of the refugee status.

If your situation does not meet the definition of refugee given by the Geneva Convention, you may, under certain conditions, be eligible for subsidiary protection.

What does subsidiary protection means?

Subsidiary protection grant protection to people whose situation does not meet the definition of refugee given by the Geneva Convention but nevertheless need protection. To get it, you must prove that in your country you may face or are exposed to:
₋ death penalty,
₋ torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment
₋ directly and individually serious threat against your life or against yourself in situations of armed conflict where you are actually a civilian.

Can I apply for asylum from my home country?

No. However, you can ask the French authorities in your country for a visa to France "under the asylum." This is not an application for asylum but for a visa, which, if accepted, will allow you to go to France to make your application for asylum by the OFPRA. The OFPRA cannot accept your demand before you find yourself on the French territory.

I entered France without paper or with a fake passport. Am I able to apply for asylum? What do I risk?

You can apply for asylum in France without valid documents (passport, visa). As you arrive at the border, you should explain that you want to apply for asylum.

However, you can be kept in the waiting area of the place of arrival (for example, at the airport) by the French authorities. You will be held while your application for asylum is analyzed to determine if it is not "manifestly unfounded". This can take several days.

If you have used someone else’s passport, you must declare that these papers are not yours and proceed your claim with your real identity.

Once in France, whom should I contact to apply for asylum?

First of all, you must contact the prefecture of your place of residence. The prefecture is the administration in charge of the residence of foreigners. Police officers may be present; you risk nothing if you explain that you just seek asylum.

If you do not have a residence, your registered address will be used during the procedure.

The prefecture will give you a temporary residence permit (Autorisation Provisoire de Séjour – APS) valid for one month and one asylum application form that you must complete and send to the French Office for Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA) within 21 days . In special cases, you must return the form within 8 days (reconsideration) or 15 days (accelerated procedure).

For more information…

What is the difference between the Prefecture, the OFII, Ofpra and France Terre d’Asile?

The Prefecture is the first place that you should go to your asylum application. The prefecture offers the asylum application form as well as it provides information and counseling on your rights and obligations as an asylum seeker, but also on organizations that can help you in your efforts.

France Terre d'Asile is a French association responsible for supporting asylum seekers in their efforts to participate in their accommodation in reception centers for asylum seekers (Cada) and help refugees s making the best in French society. France Terre d'Asile does not determine whether you can have refugee status or not.

The OFII (French Office for Immigration and Integration) is responsible for the reception of asylum seekers, especially as regards their accommodation; gives orientation and counseling to immigrants who had already obtained their papers; helps and participate in the process of integration; and support those foreigners who want to return to their country of origin.

The OFPRA (French Office for Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons) is the agency responsible for examining asylum applications. The Ofpra can give refugee or grant the benefit of the subsidiary protection status to an asylum seeker. The Ofpra also ensures legal protection for both refugees and beneficiaries of the subsidiary protection.

I was told I need an address of residence. What does it mean? Whom should I contact?

Many of the administrative procedures in France depend on mail, written and non-digital documents. To begin your administrative formalities, you need an address so that the administration can send you your mail. Usually, this address is the same of your accommodation, your shelter. However, if you are homeless, you may get domiciled with an association authorized by the prefecture, often called "reception platform for asylum seekers".

For the Ile-de-France, visit the Social and Administrative Support Service (Service d’assistance sociale et administrative – SASA) if you came without your family (spouse, partner or children):
4, rue Doudeauville
75018 Paris
Metro: Marx Dormoy (line 12)
Monday to Friday (except Thursday afternoon), from 9:30 to 5:30 p.m.

If you came with your family, go to the coordination of the reception of asylum-seeking families (Coordination de l’accueil des families demandeuses d’asile – CAFDA):
44, rue Planchat
75020 Paris
Metro: Alexandre Dumas (line 2), Avron, Buzenval (line 9)
Monday to Friday, 9am to 16:30

If you are in any other area you will find the list of platforms here .

I was told to go to the Prefecture. What kind of documents should I bring?

To make your claim, you must bring to the prefecture:
- 4 passport photos (you can do in automatic terminals Photomaton type),
- a photocopy of your passport or your ID ( otherwise, you must provide a written statement of your civil status),
- proof of address (home address or domicile in France to receive your mail).

List of regional prefectures

I went to the Prefecture but was given a document called "Refus d’admission au séjour” (Residence Permit Denied). Why ? What does that mean?

As an asylum seeker, you may benefit from a temporary residence permit (Autorisation proviso ire de séjour – APS). It means you have been granted temporary documents authorizing you to stay in France during the examination of your asylum application. Such documents, nevertheless, do not allow you to work.

The APS can be refused if another European state is held responsible for your asylum application. The "Dublin process" urges that your claim will be transferred to countries judged responsible for your asylum application and you will not make your application in France in case of you have family in another European country or you got a visa for this other country. In this case,.

APS may also be refused if:
- The OFPRA considers that there is no risk of persecution in your country of origin
- You constitute a serious threat to public order
- Your application is deemed fraudulent or abusive

In these three cases, you will not be allowed to stay. This means you will not be granted with the temporary documents during your asylum application. If your application is denied by Ofpra and they contact you, you will be removed from the French territory at any time. In addition, your claim will be a priority/accelerated procedure.

What is the priority/accelerated procedure?

The priority procedure is a procedure that applies when the prefecture refused admission stay of an asylum seeker.
You can entitled to a priority procedure if:
- Your country is on the list of safe countries of origin (list established by the OFPRA). This means that the OFPRA considers that in your home country, there is generally no persecution. See the list of safe countries of origin here.
- You represent a serious threat to public order. This means, for example, you have committed crimes in France or are suspected of terrorism.
- Your application is considered abusive or fraudulent. For example, you file your claim while you are in France for several years, but you have just got another residence permit denied, meaning that you need to return to your home country.

If you are in any of this situations, we advise you to go to the nearest platform as soon as possible to get help.

You have 15 days to submit your request (instead of 21).

The Ofpra must respond to your claim within 15 days. In practice, the time may be longer. You will still be called for an interview.

I went to the Prefecture and was given a document called "Offre de prise en charge." (Eligible for care services) What should I answer?

This support offer means you can apply for a place in a reception center for asylum seekers (Cada). If you accept this offer, you must go to the OFII, which will register your request. If a place is free in Cada, it will be proposed. While waiting for available places, you will receive a small stipend called Temporary Waiting Allowance (Allocation Temporaire d’Attente – ATA). If you refuse this place, you will not have the right to ATA. We recommend that you always accept the administration offer if you do not have enough financial resources or someone else to support you financially.

I want to apply for asylum in France but the prefecture says that another European country is responsible for my application. Why ?

According to the Dublin Regulation III one must apply for asylum within the European country considered responsible for his entrance on the territory (the one that issued the visa or that by which it entered in Europe for example).

If the authorities of the country in question decide to take your application, you cannot start a new demand for asylum in France. However, if your transfer from France to this country is not made within 6 months, you can make request French authorities to initiate a new demand for asylum here. This period is extended to 12 months in case of imprisonment or 18 months in case of leakage.

I am a student but the situation in my country has changed and I cannot go back. Can I ask for asylum? Can I continue my studies in France?

You can apply for asylum, however precise, if you are in France for several years, that the evidence supporting your application are new and warrant that you seek asylum only now. If the conduct for which you seek asylum are not new but you did not file asylum application earlier, you will probably be placed in a priority procedure. We advise you to be accompanied by legal counsel when you go to the prefecture to make your request in order not to unnecessarily be a priority procedure. Once your application for asylum lodged with OFPRA, you will have the right to continue your studies in France and your student residence permit may be renewed.

I do not understand the asylum application. Who can help me to fill it in?

You can seek advice from a lawyer or legal advisor to help you complete your application. To do this, you shall go to the nearest platform, which will tell you where to find a counselor. However, you cannot benefit from legal aid (financial support for advocates' fees) for the procedures of OFPRA.

For a list of platforms, click here .

What kind of evidences and proofs should I bring for my asylum application?

You are advised to produce and present any evidence that can support your case (such threatening letters, newspaper articles, unfounded criminal convictions, death certificate of a family member who has been persecuted for the same reasons you etc.). Be as specific as possible, try to mention all possible reasons of the underlying your fears of persecution and emphasize personal facts, not general items.

How soon will I receive an answer?

Most of the time, your claim involves several steps. Once your file is complete, you may be called by the OFPRA for an interview. The notice period can vary from several weeks to several months. If OFPRA cannot call you within 6 months, you will be notified within 15 days of the end of 6 months. Once you pass by the interview, it is necessary to wait for some months until OFPRA provides a proper feedback regarding your status. The average waiting time in 2013 was of 204 days.

If you have a review requested or your process is a priority or accelerated one, the deadlines can be shorter.

Can a lawyer help me with my claim?

For writing your asylum application, you can be accompanied by legal counsel. However, the OFPRA, you will report only to the maintenance of asylum. If you hire a lawyer for your claim at this stage, you will pay yourself the costs.

For legal help, go to the nearest home platform. For a list of platforms here.

If your claim is denied and you do appeal to the National Court of Asylum, you will be assisted by a lawyer. You will be entitled to legal aid, that is to say that a lawyer will be designated automatically and for free.

I just sent my application for asylum to OFPRA. What will happen now?

If you are in "normal procedure" (the most common) :
You will receive an initial "receipt" of six months which will allow you to remain in France. It is a temporarily document authorizing you to stay in France without being having to return to your home country. Then you will be invited to an interview with OFPRA, who will then make its decision based on the interview and the asylum application you had filled up. For your information, the average of OFPRA's decision in 2013 was 204 days.

If you are in "priority procedure" :
You will not receive a "receipt" but you cannot be sent back to your country at this stage. You will be invited to an interview with OFPRA, who will then make its decision within 15 days.

I am an asylum seeker, do I have the right to work?

As an asylum seeker, you do not automatically have the right to work. You must request a work permit to the Regional Directorate of Business, Competition, Consumption, Labour and Employment (Direction régionale des entreprises, de la concurrence, de la consummation, du travail et de l’emploi – Direccte) from the department of your place of residence.

To find the nearest Direccte, click here .

You can only do that if the OFPRA has not made a decision on your asylum application within a period of one year following the registration of your asylum application (for reasons of your will) or if you have filed an appeal before the national Court of asylum.

The employment situation is "enforceable" you: you can not do that jobs for which there is a shortage of workers. The work permit is often exceptional, it is not automatic.

I have no financial resources. Can I receive financial aid while waiting for a response to my claim?

If you filed an asylum application and you are in possession of your Ofpra registration certificate (letter sent by the OFPRA when your asylum application is received), you can request the temporary allowance waiting (ATA) which can be requested by any claimant who is at least 18 years up to two years following receipt of the OFPRA registration certificate. The temporary waiting allowance is paid throughout the duration of the asylum procedure. It amounts to 11.35 euros per day per adult (children under 18 do not receive financial aid). In order to receive it, you must sign in the prefecture a document called "support offer" that will be offered to you; then you have to contact the nearest Pôle emploi center of your home.

To find the nearest Pôle emploi center, click here .

If you manage to get an accommodation in a reception center for asylum seekers (Cada), the payment of the temporary waiting allowance will be stopped and you will receive another benefit, a little less important. If you refuse to incorporate a reception center for asylum seekers that is offered, the temporary waiting allowance will not be paid to you.

How can I be granted with clothing or food for free?

If you are an asylum seeker in the Paris region, the city of Paris offers a guide of Solidarity ( click here to download the guide ) which gives you many places where you can feed yourself and find clothes for free.

If you are out of Paris, go to the city hall of your place of residence: you can find addresses and services called "solidarity" designed for people in need of food and clothing.

Otherwise, large national organizations such as the Secours Populaire , the Restos du Coeur or the Red Cross /Croix Rouge are usually found on the French territory and are specialized to accommodate people in need.

I do not have a bank account. How to open one?

If you have an ID (passport, national identity card) and proof of address, you can open a bank account in any bank.

If the bank refuses to open an account, it must justify you in writing. With this voucher, you must contact the Bank of France nearest (You can call the Mayor of your town so it tells you where it is) and that you will appoint a statutory bank that cannot not you refuse to open an account.
If you do not have an identity document, you can open a "Livret A" (Saving account) account in some banks with your receipt. Your passport photo should appear on your receipt so you can be recognized by the bank.

France Terre d’Asile and Banque Postale have a partnership agreement to improve access to banking procedures for asylum seekers. For more information, click here (link to the page of La Poste DAHA).

I am an asylum seeker and have children, but I live in the street. What should I do to find accommodation?

If you have a temporary residence permit one month (APS) or a receipt for six months because you are an asylum seeker, you are eligible and your immediate family to an accommodation center for asylum asylum (Cada). The prefecture where you made your application will endeavor to offer you an accommodation based on availability and your family situation. However, there is not enough places to accommodate all asylum seekers and you may have to wait some months to be granted a place.

For a map of France Terre d’Asile Cada, click here .

I am an asylum seeker but I live in the street with my family and there is no place in CADA? What should I do to find accommodation?

If no place is available Cada, an emergency shelter can accommodate you:
– You may be allowed in emergency accommodation for asylum seekers (Hébergement d’urgence pour demandeurs d’asile – Huda) for a few nights to a few weeks. Offer of places is limited, however. For more information, contact the closest platform to your home ( here ).
– You can be received in an emergency reception center (for a few nights), you can call at any time by dialing telephone number "115". This is accommodation for all persons on the street. Space is also limited. Do not hesitate to call many times because the service is requested.


I’m homeless. How can I get an accommodation in a reception center for asylum seekers (Cada)?

If you filed an asylum application and you are in possession of your APS or your receipt, the prefecture will offer you to integrate a Cada. If you accept, the prefect appoint a Cada having a place for your personal profile, family and social. You will be assigned a priority Cada in the region where you live (for lack of space in the area, you may be affected in any Cada de France). Then the prefect communicate to you an invitation to you to the manager of this Cada. If you go to the Cada manager within the time limit, the decision of admission in the center is taken by the Centre Manager. It is subject to the prior approval of the prefect of the location of the center department. While waiting for a place on Cada, you have the opportunity to be hosted in emergency reception center proposed for the homeless.

I am an asylum seeker. Can I get free health care?

If you are 'normal procedure', you can benefit from free medical protection. This is the universal medical coverage (Couverture medicale universelle – CMU) that allows you to reach some health and care services without having to pay medical or hospital expenses. To get it, you must contact the primary health insurance fund (CPAM) of your place of residence. In the meantime, you can receive care from general access to health care facilities (Permanences d’accès aux soins de santé – Pass).

If you are placed in priority procedure, you can benefit from the state medical assistance after more than three months of uninterrupted residence in France.


I am an asylum seeker but I do not have a receipt. Am I still entitled for free health treatment?

If you are in priority procedure to the Ofrpa and we did not give you a receipt, you can benefit from medical state aid (Aide medicale de l’état – AME) on the condition of proving at least 3 months of residence in France. This demand for MEA has to be at the primary health insurance fund (Caisse primaire d’assurance maladie – CPAM) or in access to general access to health care facilities (Permanences d’accès aux soins de santé – Pass) hospitals. The AME is valid for one year and renewable.
If you are in priority procedure and you do not justify 3 month residency in France, you can go to the Pass or to reception, care and orientation centers of “Doctors of the world – Médecins du Monde”.
If you are in France for less than 3 months and you have not applied for asylum or your application to OFPRA was rejected, you can get a device management of emergency care in three situations: if the lack of care put in serious danger the patient, if you have a contagious disease that could infect people around you or if you are pregnant and need some preventive nursing.

I am an asylum seeker. Can I attend to courses and other formations?

If the training or the course you wish to register is not paid, you are allowed to do any type of training.


I am an asylum seeker. Can I bring my family?

You can make a family reunion application onde you have received a positive answer to your asylum application. If your spouse or your children wish to apply for asylum but they are in another Member State of the European Union, your family will be transferred to France under the principle of family unity (of right for spouses and minor children) or under the humanitarian clause (which does not play automatically for adult children).

I am an asylum seeker. Can I get married to a French person?

Your legal status does not affect your wedding plans. Unless the mayor suspects that marriage is complacency and grasp in this sense the public prosecutor for marriage in opposition, he can not refuse to celebrate your wedding because of temporary or irregular nature of your stay.

I am an asylum seeker but I do not speak French. Where I can take language courses?

If you are staying in a reception center for asylum seeker, French classes are provided, following the contract of admission you sign with the center. These courses are usually compulsory, unless you already speak fluent French. They fit into the overall empowerment project and allow you to learn French according to your level of knowledge.
If you are not hosted in Cada, you can contact the language center of your department. For a list of locations, click here.
Some neighborhood and community associations also give customized courses. For more information, click here.

I want to be accompanied to my interview at the OFPRA by someone from France Terre d’Asile, is it possible?

As part of the implementation of the new legislation asylum, in accordance with Article L.723-6 of the Code of entry and residence of foreigners and asylum, France Terre d’Asile is allowed to accompany asylum seekers in the interview to the agency.

However, this entitlement is reserved exclusively to the support of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in our devices together.

We do not have enough financial and human resources to implement it at present for other asylum seekers.