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Seeking asylum

Frequently asked questions « Information for immigrants »

I want to seek asylum in France

INTRODUCTION

  1. What is the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee?
  2. What requirements must I meet to obtain refugee status?
  3. What does subsidiary protection mean?

SEEKING ASYLUM

  1. Can I apply for asylum from my home country?
  2. I entered France while undocumented or with a false passport. Am I able to apply for asylum? What are the risks?
  3. Once in France, whom should I contact to apply for asylum?
  4. What is the difference between the OFII, Ofpra, and France terre d’asile ?
  5. I was told to go to a reception platform. What is it? Where should I go?
  6. I was told to go to the GUDA, what is it? Which documents do I need to bring?
  7. I went to the GUDA and was given an « Offre de prise en charge » document. What do I do now?
  8. I went to the Préfecture and was given an « Attestation pour demandeurs d’asile ». What is it? (normal procedure)
  9. What is the Dublin procedure?
  10. What is the accelerated procedure?
  11. I would like to seek asylum in France but was told that a different European country is responsible for my application. Why?
  12. I am a student but the situation in my country has changed and I cannot go back. Can I request asylum? Can I continue my studies in France?
  13. I do not understand the asylum application. Who can help me fill it in?
  14. What kind of documentation should I bring for my asylum application?
  15. How soon will I receive an answer?
  16. Can a lawyer help me with my application?
  17. I just sent my asylum application to OFPRA. What will happen now?
  18. I want to be accompanied to my interview at the OFPRA by someone from France terre d’asile, is it possible?


HEALTH

  1. I am an asylum seeker. Can I get free healthcare?
  2. I am an asylum seeker in accelerated procedure or Dublin procedure. Can I get free healthcare?

HOUSING

  1. I am an asylum seeker and have children, but I live in the street. What should I do to find accommodation? How can I get an accommodation in a reception center for asylum seekers (CADA)?


EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT

  1. I am an asylum seeker. Can i work?
  2. I am an asylum seeker. Can I take classes or register for a course


MONEY

  1. I have no financial resources. Can I receive financial aid while awaiting a response for my application?
  2. I don't have a bank account. How can I open one?


FOOD AND CLOTHING

- I have no money. How can I obtain clothes or food?


FAMILY

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


LEARNING FRENCH

- I am an asylum seeker and I don't speak French. Where can I take classes to learn the language?

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INTRODUCTION

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

An asylum seeker is a foreign person who is engaged in a procedure for recognition of refugee status or subsidiary protection. A refugee or beneficiary of subsidiary protection is a foreign person 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.

2. 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 in your country of origin;

-You fear persecution for one of the following reasons: your race or ethnicity, religion, nationality, political opinions, or membership to certain social groups.

Economic reasons do not allow you to obtain 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.

3. What does subsidiary protection mean?

Subsidiary protection grants protection to people whose situation does not meet the definition of refugee given by the Geneva Convention but nevertheless need protection. To qualify, you must prove that in your country you may face or are exposed to:

- death penalty ;

- ₋ torture, inhuman or degrading treatment;

-and if you are a civilian subject to serious, direct and individual threats against your life or your person in situations of armed conflict.


SEEKING ASYLUM


1. 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 asylum application but a visa which, if granted, will allow you to go to France and make your application for asylum at the OFPRA. The OFPRA cannot accept your request before you arrive on French territory.


2. I entered France while undocumented or with a false passport. Am I able to apply for asylum? What are the risks?


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 documents are not yours and make your request for asylum under your real identity.


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


First, you must go to a reception platform for asylum seekers (Plateforme d’accueil pour demandeurs d’asile, or PADA). You cannot go directly to the one‐stop asylum seeker welcome service (Guichet unique pour demandeurs d’asile or GUDA) or to the Ofpra (French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons).

At the reception platform, your asylum request will be pre-recorded. To fill out this document, employees will ask you questions about your civil status (first and last name, nationality, family situation…), the journey you have taken from your home country, how you entered French territory, whether you have previously requested asylum in France or elsewhere in Europe…

Following that, you will receive a summons for an interview at the one‐stop asylum seeker welcome service (GUDA).


4. What is the difference between the GUDA, the OFII, the Ofpra, and France terre d’asile?


The one-stop asylum seeker welcome service, or GUDA, is staffed by both employees of the Préfecture and the OFII, in order to best receive asylum seekers. There are 34 GUDA locations across all of France. Before going to a GUDA, you must go to a reception platform for asylum seekers (Plateforme d’accueil pour demandeurs d’asile, or PADA); those are managed by organizations who will assist you in your procedures, such as France terre d’asile.

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 make the best in French society. France Terre d'asile does not determine whether you can have refugee status or not.

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

The OFII (French Office for Immigration and Integration) is responsible for the reception of asylum seekers, especially with regard to their accommodation. The Office is responsible for providing asylum seekers with financial support, with the Asylum Seeker Allowance (Allocation pour Demandeurs d’Asile, or ADA). It provides orientation and counseling to immigrants who had already obtained their papers. It helps and participate in the process of integration and supports foreigners who want to return to their country of origin.



5. I was told to go to a reception platform. What is it? Where should I go?


For any asylum application, you must start by going to a reception platform for asylum seekers (Plateforme d’accueil pour demandeurs d’asile, or PADA). These platforms are managed by NGOs. They will give you information about asylum, help you fill out the asylum application registration form, and make an appointment at the one‐stop asylum seeker welcome service (Guichet unique pour demandeurs d’asile or GUDA) within three days. You will then be provided with a convening letter for that appointment.

* If you are in Île-de-France, go to the « Service d’assistance sociale et administrative (SASA) » if you have come to France without your family (husband, wife or children):

127, boulevard de la Villette
75010 Paris
Metro station: Jaurès (metro lines 2, 5 and 7bis)
From Monday to Friday (except Thursday afternoon), from 9.30AM to 5:30PM

* Go to the « Coordination de l’accueil des familles demandeuses d’asile (CAFDA) » if you have come with your family:

44, rue Planchat
75020 Paris
Metro station: Alexandre Dumas (line 2), Avron, Buzenval (line 9)
From Monday to Friday, 9AM to 4:30PM

* If you are located elsewhere in France, follow this link to see the list of reception platforms.



6. I was told to go to the GUDA, what is it? Which documents do I need to bring?

One-stop asylum seeker welcome services, or GUDA, are places where both Prefecture and OFII services operate. You should go to one such center after you have obtained an appointment at the reception platform.

- The Prefecture will receive a person presenting photographs, proof of itinerary and civil status. The Prefecture must register the application and take fingerprints with the « Eurodac » system.

- OFII officers receive the person during an appointment, evalue their vulnerability (for example, in case of health problems) and make an offer of support. If there are available places, the OFII officer will try to find housing for the person. They will also grant the right to the Asylum Seeker Allowance, or ADA. The OFII will then transmit all of this information to the OFPRA.


7. I went to the GUDA and was given an « Offre de prise en charge » document. What do I do now?

This support offer means you can apply for a place in a reception center for asylum seekers (CADA). If a place is available in a CADA, it will be offered to you. If you refuse this place, you will no longer be eligible for Asylum Seeker Allowance (ADA). We advise you to always accept the support offer if you do not have financial resources or relatives able to offer financial support.


8. I went to the Préfecture and was given an « Attestation pour demandeurs d’asile ». What is it? (normal procedure)

The asylum seeker attestation (« Attestation pour demandeur d’asile ») allows you to remain on French territory for a renewable period of one month, while your asylum application is examined by the OFPRA. This document does not allow you to work or to travel freely within the European Union.


9. What is the Dublin procedure?

If you arrived in France through another European country and were fingerprinted there, or if you have made an asylum application in that country, then that country is responsible for your asylum application. This means that you will be placed in Dublin procedure (« procédure Dublin ») upon your arrival at the French Prefecture. In this case, you will receive a different asylum seeker attestation, the « Attestation procédure Dublin ». While your application is processed then transferred to the country responsible for your asylum application, you are eligible for the same rights as other asylum seekers. However, you cannot benefit from housing in a CADA. You can also be placed under home confinement or house arrest for a period of 6 months, renewable once, during the procedure is treated. You may also be placed in a retention center while awaiting to be returned to the country responsible for your asylum application.



10. What is the accelerated procedure?

The OFPRA can decide to treat your application with the accelerated procedure in the following cases:

- Your country is on the list of safe countries of origin. This means that the OFPRA considers that in your home country, there is generally no persecution.

- You are considered a serious threat to public order. This means, for example, that you have committed crimes in France or are suspected of terrorism.

- In case of fraud: you have made false allegations, you have presented false documents etc.

- If you have refused to be fingerprinted or your prints are illegible.

- If you have given false identity documents

- If you are found to have requested asylum under a different name

- If you have been in France for over 120 days and have delayed making an asylum request.

- If you have been arrested by the police and are therefore forced to leave French territory.

The OFPRA must then treat your asylum application within 15 days.

If you are in this situation, we advise you to go to the nearest reception platform as soon as possible in order to receive help.

11. I would like to seek asylum in France but was told that a different European country is responsible for my application. Why?

According to the Dublin III regulation, asylum seekers must make their applications in the European country judged responsible for their entry into European territory (the country having delivered the visa or the country through which an asylum seeker has entered Europe, for example).

If the authorities of the relevant country decide to take responsibility for your application, you will not be able to seek asylum in Franhce. However, if your transfer from France to that country is not effective within 6 months, you will then be able to apply for asylum in France. This period can be stretched to 12 months if you are imprisoned or 18 months if you attempt to escape.

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

You can apply for asylum. However, if you have been in France for several years, make sure to underline that the evidence supporting your application is new and warrants your request for asylum after many years. If the events leading you to seek asylum are not new but you did not file an asylum application earlier, you will probably be placed in accelerated procedure. We advise you to be accompanied by legal counsel when you go to the One-stop asylum seeker welcome service (GUDA) to file your application, so that you are not unnecessarily placed in accelerated procedure. Once your asylum application is lodged with OFPRA, you will have the right to continue your studies in France and to renew your student residence permit.

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

You should go to the nearest reception platform for asylum seekers (PADA), where you will be advised on how to find counsel. This legal counsel can be:
– an officer of the PADA, if you have a housing address;
– a member of another organization supporting asylum seekers;
– a lawyer

14. What kind of documentation should I bring for my asylum application?

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

15. How soon will I receive an answer?

Most of the time, the treatment of your application involves several steps. Once your file is complete, you can then be called by the OFPRA for an interview. The notice period can vary from several weeks to several months. If the OFPRA cannot set an appointment for you within 6 months, you will be notified within 15 days of the end of the 6 months. After your appointment has happened, you will need to wait a few months to receive the OFPRA’s answer regarding your status. The average waiting time in 2015 was of 262 days.

if your application is being reconsidered or you are in the accelerated procedure, the delay may be shorter.

16. Can a lawyer help me with my application?

You can be assisted by legal counsel to write your asylum application. However, you will need to report to the OFPRA’s asylum request appointment by yourself. If you choose to hire a lawyer to help you with your asylum application at this stage, you will need to pay for the costs yourself.

For legal help, go to the nearest reception platform. You will find a list of reception platforms here.

If your asylum application is denied and you appeal to the National Court of Asylum, you can assisted by a lawyer or attorney. You will then be entitled to legal aid, that is to say that a lawyer will be designated automatically and for free. To qualify for free legal aid, you must request it in the 15 days following the negative decision from the OFPRA or in the appeal within 30 days.

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

If you are under the normal procedure (the most common):

You will receive an asylum request attestation valid for a renewable period of one month. This document proves that you are an asylum seeker: you must carry it (or a copy of it) with you in case of identity checks by the police.

The second attestation you receive will be valid for a period of 9 months, then renewable every 6 months.

Afterwards, you will be convened for an interview with the OFPRA, which will then reach a decision. The average waiting time in 2015 was of 262 days.

If you are in the accelerated procedure:

You will receive an asylum request attestation valid for a renewable period of one month. This document proves that you are an asylum seeker: you must carry it (or a copy of it) with you in case of identity checks by the police.

In the accelerated procedure, it is valid for 6 months then renewable every 3 months.

Afterwards, you will be convened for an interview with the OFPRA, which will then reach a decision. The average waiting time in 2015 was of 262 days.

Renewing the attestation:

You will need to come back to the Prefecture to have this attestation renewed on the date you are convened. You will need to bring the following elements:

In case of recourse at the National Court of Asylum (CNDA), the attestation will only be renewed upon presentation of the filing receipt of the appeal.

18. 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 asylum law, and in accordance with the provisions of article L.723-6 of the Code of Entry and Residence of Foreigner and the Right of Asylum, France terre d’asile has been authorized by the OFPRA to accompany asylum seekers for their appointment.

However, this authorization only concerns unaccompanied foreign minors seeking asylum placed under our care.

This is because we do not have the financial means and human resources necessary to implement this support for other asylum seekers at the moment.

HEALTH

1. I am an asylum seeker. Can I get free healthcare?

As an asylum seeker, you can benefit from free medical protection as soon as you make your asylum application, simply by presenting the attestation of asylum application as well as a proof of address.

This will allow you, your spouse and children to be covered for free for all medical or hospital expenses.

While you wait to be covered by social security by the universal medical coverage (« Couverture medicale universelle », or CMU), you can get access to healthcare in case of emergency in different ways:

- In some hospitals where healthcare access permanences (« Permanences d’accès aux soins de santé, or PASS ») have been implemented. You will be cared for by doctors, and can be given medicine, all for free.

- In some organizations that offer access to dental, ophthalmologic or psychologic healthcare without requiring patients to have insurance.

- Within mother-and-child care services (« services de protection maternelle et infantile », or PMI). These services care for children from 0 to 6 years old and ensure their up-to-date vaccination without requiring patients to have social security.

2. I am an asylum seeker in accelerated procedure or Dublin procedure. Can I get free healthcare?

See the above answer.

HOUSING

I am an asylum seeker and have children, but I live in the street. What should I do to find accommodation? How can I get an accommodation in a reception center for asylum seekers (CADA)?

If you have an asylum application attestation, you and your immediate family are eligible to be placed in an accommodation center for asylum seekers («Centre d’accueil pour demandeurs d’asile », or CADA). The OFII will provide you with housing depending on availability and on your familial situation. There are not enough places to provide housing for all asylum seekers, and you may need to wait several months to be provided with such housing.

The OFII or social worker in charge of your application will contact you directly to offer you housing. You will then be received by an OFII officer to sign the housing offer. If you accept this offer, they will organize your transfer to the CADA and you will meet the director, who will explain how being housed there works.

While you are awaiting a place in a CADA, you can be housed in an emergency reception center, a service intended for homeless people where you can stay up to a few nights. You can call and ask for a place there at any time by dialing 115. However, places in such centers are also limited. To find out more, locate and contact the reception platform nearest to you (here).

EMPLOYMENT AND EDUCATION

1. I am an asylum seeker. Can i work?

As an asylum seeker, you will not automatically have the right to work in the first months following your asylum application in France. You can request an authorization for salaried work 9 months after you file your asylum application if you meet the following criteria:

- The OFPRA has not made a decision on your asylum application within a year following its filing, for reasons beyond your control.

- you have not appealed in front of the National Court of Asylum.

You have been found “opposable” to work, which means you will only be allowed to work in jobs where there is a lack of workers. The authorization to work is often exceptional, it is not automatic.

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

You can register for any course, training or formation as long as it is not a paid position.

MONEY

1. I have no financial resources. Can I receive financial aid while awaiting a response for my application?

If you have filed an asylum application and have an asylum application attestation or a certificate of application for a residence permit (« Récépissé de Carte de séjour », or RCS) with a reference to your asylum seeker status, you will be able to receive the Asylum Seeker Allowance (ADA) during your appointment at the one-stop asylum seeker welcome service (GUDA)

The Asylum Seeker Allowance will be provided to you for the duration of the asylum application procedure, under the condition that you agree to the material conditions offered by the OFII (this means that you must accept a place in a CADA housing center if it is offered to you).

The amount of your Asylum Seeker Allowance depends on the characteristics of your household. For one adult with no children, the amount is 6.80€ per day.Read the OFII’s informational brochure on the ADA



2. I don't have a bank account. How can I open one?

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

If the bank refuses to open a bank account for you, it must give you a written document to that effect. Keep that document and go to the nearest Banque de France (you can phone the municipality of your commune to find out where it is). There, you will be directed to a bank that will not be able to refuse to open a bank account for you.

If you do not have ID, some banks will allow you to open a « livret A » account (savings account) by showing your asylum application attestation. The attestation must include an ID picture so that the bank will recognize you.

FOOD AND CLOTHING

I have no money. How can I obtain clothes or food?

If you are an asylum seeker in the greater Paris area, Paris City Hall has a solidarity guide resource (click here to download the guide) providing you with many addresses where you can get food and/or clothing for free.

If you live outside Paris, go to the City Hall or municipality nearest to you: addresses and services intended for persons in need of food and clothing will be provided for you.

Otherwise, large French NGOs and nonprofit organizations such as theSecours populaire, the Restos du cœur or theFrench Red Cross are spread across the entire country and specialize in helping people in need.

FAMILY

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 this is a marriage of convenience, in which case he can refer the matter to the government procurator to object to the marriage, he cannot refuse to celebrate your wedding because of the temporary or irregular nature of your stay.

LEARNING FRENCH

I am an asylum seeker and I don't speak French. Where can I take classes to learn the language?

If you are housed in a CADA, French classes are usually planned within the center. Otherwise, you will be referred to organizations. Such classes are part of the general autonomization project and allow you to learn French on the basis of your level of knowledge.

If you are not housed in a CADA, you can turn to the language training center (« centre de formation linguistique ») of your « département ». Neighborhood organizations also offer French courses. See this page for a list of French courses near your location.