2. First steps at the single-desk contact point for asylum application (GUDA: prefecture and OFII)
After the reception platform – Spada (factsheet no. 1), you need to go to the Guda at the date of the appointment given to you by the Spada. The Guda includes services provided by both the prefecture and the Ofii. In France, there are 33 single-desk contact points. The prefecture is in charge of your residence; it provides you with an asylum application certificate. The Ofii is responsible for providing access to “material reception conditions” (housing, allowance…).
A. “Sorting” of asylum seekers by the police prefecture, and the right to residence
The police prefecture is responsible for your right of residence. Even if you do not have a passport or a national id card the police prefecture has to register the information that you provide orally.
Do not miss this appointment because it will be difficult to obtain another one.
If necessary, you must communicate, any change of address or “domiciliation” to the police prefecture by registered letter with delivery receipt.
It is highly recommended that you ask for an interpreter for your native language. Do not choose a language which you do not speak perfectly.
1. Taking of fingerprints
Your fingerprints will be taken at the prefecture to check if you are registered in the Eurodac and Visabio files. The police prefecture has to give you a booklet explaining why your fingerprints are taken entitled “I asked for asylum in the European Union: which country will handle my request?”.
The prefecture will also look for other evidence or signs of passage through another European Union country: 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 any other documents that you provide them.
- If your fingerprints are stored in a Eurodac file, or if the police 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 does not find any proof that you have traveled through another country of the European Union, you can apply for asylum in France.
Note: before your appointment at the prefecture, you cannot find out if you are registered in a Eurodac file or not. The countries that you have traveled through (Italy, Hungary, etc.) and in which you have gone through screening may not have recorded your fingerprints in the file.
Some police prefectures refuse to register asylum requests if your fingerprints are unreadable, but this is illegal. In that case, you have to contact an association or a lawyer to contest this kind of practice.
2. The Guide for asylum seekers
The prefecture must provide you with a copy of the Interior Ministry’s Guide for asylum seekers in a language that you understand, and a list of associations that can help you.
3. “Normal” or “fast-track” procedure
The prefecture can place you either in the ‘normal’, ‘fast-track’ or “Dublin” procedure (“normale”, “accélérée” or “Dublin”).
You will be placed in the fast-track procedure:
- If you do not provide your fingerprints, or if they are illegible or erased;
- If you provide false identity documents;
- If you provide incorrect information about yourself or your journey;
- If the prefecture notices that you have already requested asylum in France under another name;
- If you say that you entered France more than 90 days ago;
- If you are arrested and the police give you an “OQTF” – an order to leave French Territory – and you are placed in a detention facility…
Furthermore, the law provides that the police prefecture will place you in the fast-track procedure if:
- you come from a “safe country of origin” : Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cape Verde, Georgia, India, Kosovo, Macedonia (FYROM), Mauritius, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro and Serbia.
- you ask for a reconsideration of your asylum claim.
The Ofpra can also place you in the fast-track procedure after examining your story.
The prefecture must provide you with a document that explains why you have been placed into the fast-track procedure. If they do not give it to you, ask for it.
According to the law, the Ofpra only has 15 days to make a decision, but the delays are longer in practice.
Especially in the fast-track procedure, it is of paramount importance to carefully prepare your written asylum story on the Ofpra form and that you prepare for your interview (factsheet n°4).
f your asylum application is rejected by the Ofpra and you are in the fast-track procedure, a single judge will examine your appeal to the CNDA(instead of three in 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. Currently this time limit is not being respected.
In addition, it is possible for the Ofii to use your placement in the fast-track procedure to refuse to provide you the material reception conditions (CMA), specifically the asylum seekers allowance (ADA) and housing (see below). It is then necessary to check if the law considers this reason as a valid justification for taking away the CMA (see B.5. Cases of refusal, withdrawal and suspension of CMA).
4. Reception of the asylum application certificate
The prefecture will provide you with an “attestation de demande d’asile” (asylum application certificate) which will indicate in which procedure your application has been placed (“normal”, “fast-track” or “Dublin”). This document proves that you are an asylum seeker: you must always have it with you in case you are stopped and checked by the police (the original or a photocopy).
Depending on the prefecture (summons notice, presentation without an appointment, etc) you must return to the prefecture to renew this certificate with:
- The Ofpra registration letter or a certificate from submitting your asylum application;
- Proof of residence or proof of your postal address (from a “domiciliation”) no more than 3 months old.
In the normal procedure, the asylum application certificate is valid for 10 months, then renewable every 6 months. In the fast-track procedure, it is valid for 6 months, then renewable every 6 months. In the case of an appeal before the CNDA, the certificate will only be renewed upon presentation of the certificate of receipt of the appeal to the CNDA.
The asylum application certificate does not permit you to travel freely in other countries of the European Union.
In the Dublin procedure, the first certificate is valid for 1 month, and is then renewable every 4 months.
Regarding refusals or withdrawals of certificates cases, see 4. : Different cases of refusal or removal of the certificate (loss of the right to stay).
5. Provision of the Ofpra form
B. The Ofii and the material reception conditions (CMA)
→ For more detailed information : Asylum application and material reception conditions, Gisti, coll. Les Notes pratiques, April 2020.
The Ofii (French office for immigration and integration), a government body under the authority of the Interior Ministry, is responsible for providing access to “material reception conditions” (housing, allowance, postal address, vulnerability). No matter which procedural track your application has been placed in by the prefecture (normal, fast-track or Dublin) you have the right to these provisions called CMA, except in certain cases listed below.
Accepting the offer of assistance implies that the Ofii can force you to move to another region (a region of residence) without necessarily offering you housing there.
If the number of asylum seekers residing in a region exceeds the proportion set for this region by the national scheme for the reception of asylum seekers and the reception capacity of this region, you may be transferred to another region where you are required to reside while your application is being reviewed. It will not be possible for you to leave this area without first warning the Ofii and obtaining an authorization from them.
An Ofii agent will receive you for a personal interview to assess whether you are a “vulnerable” asylum seeker (see the form). For example, a person with a disability, a pregnant woman, a sick person, etc. are considered “vulnerable”. As a vulnerable person, you will be given priority for housing, and that housing must comply with your specific needs.
You can report a situation of vulnerability to the Ofii at any time throughout the procedure.
The Ofii will provide you with an accommodation offer based on the places available in reception centers for asylum seekers (Cada). To do so, the Ofii consults the DN@ file (national file for place management). In the absence of available space in a Cada, the office could offer you another kind of accommodation such as emergency accommodation (Huda, AT-SA), accommodation in a reception and orientation center (CAO) or in a Prahda facility (reception and housing program for asylum seekers).
If you are not housed in any of those places, the Ofii will redirect you to a Spada (a first reception center). The Spada will advise you to call the emergency number 115 to find your own emergency housing.
These reception centers may have different operating rules but they are subject to common obligations (defined by their contract with the government), particularly concerning administrative, medical and social assistance. The functioning of those centers is supposed to be homogenized soon.
Each of those housing centers must follow a particular procedure regarding departure from the accommodation. This procedure implies you must be given notice before you can be let back on the street. Therefore, before leaving the center, we recommend that you check with an association that your center is following the mandatory procedure.
3. Postal address
If you are provided with “long-term” housing in a center, you can use the address of the center for your asylum procedure; this is called “domiciliation”.
If you are not housed in such a center, you must return to the Spada (factsheet no.1) which will provide you with a postal address where you can receive your mail.
4. The asylum-seeker’s allowance (ADA)
The Ofii will provide you a card for this allowance. As this card is no longer usable in ATMs (cash machines), you can only use the card to pay directly for your purchases.
It is nonetheless advisable to open a bank account (at the ‘Banque postale’). To open an account, you need to provide the asylum application certificate and a valid domiciliation address.
The ADA amounts to 6.80 euros per day for a single person. The amount is calculated based on your family compositions (for 2 people 10,20 euros; for 3 people 13,60 euros...).
An additional amount of € 7.40 per day will be paid to you each month if no housing has been offered to you. If you indicate that you are housed somewhere for free, this additional amount will be withdrawn.
Henceforth asylum seekers sleeping in emergency housing will no longer qualify for this additional amount, even though it is only a temporary housing. The services responsible for the management of emergency housing (SIAO) will be required to report the identities of refugees and asylum seekers that they are hosting to the Ofii on a monthly basis. To qualify for the material reception conditions (CMA) and specifically the ADA allowance, you must:
- Be over 18 years old;
- Possess an asylum application certificate (which gives you the right to reside in France);
- Have accepted and signed the “offre de prise en charge” given at the Ofii, during your appointment at the single-desk contact point, thus accepting their housing offer or the region of residence;
- Have submitted the Ofpra form within 21 days (except for people in the Dublin procedure);
- Declare that your income is less than the French “revenu de solidarité active” (RSA – a welfare benefit): 550 euros for a single adult with no children;
- Present yourself to the authorities (police prefecture, Ofii, house arrest...) when summoned, and give them all the requested information.
The ADA is paid to you throughout the whole asylum procedure, as long as you have the right to remain in France, or until the transfer to another State responsible for the review of your application following the Dublin regulation. You will stop benefiting from the ADA the month following the termination of your right to remain in French territory.
5. Cases of refusal, withdrawal and suspension of the CMA
In each and every case, the Ofii is required to deliver written and motivated decisions.
a. The refusal of the CMA
After the registration of your application at the single-desk contact point, the Ofii can refuse the CMA if (articles L 551-15 / ex-L 744-8,2° and L.744-7 Ceseda):
- You submit a request for review of your asylum application (reconsideration);
- You have not applied for asylum within 90 days after your entry in France, and have no legitimate reason to not have done so. In practice, the Ofii applies this principle almost systematically without taking into account any “legitimate reason” justifying the “lateness” of the application, such as for example the impossibility of registration of the asylum application because of the overcrowding of the Spadas and prefectures (in this case, you should keep any evidence of your calls to those platforms). These legitimate justifications are not specified by the law.
- You refuse the accommodation proposal by the Ofii or the direction to a region determined by the Ofii (CE, 31 juillet 2019, n°428530)
For rejection cases, prior to going to court, you need to write to the general director of the Ofii. Writing this email is mandatory if you want to be able to challenge the refusal of the CMA before the court. However, you do not need to wait for the Ofii director’s answer to go to court.
b. The suspension or withdrawal of the CMA.
There are numerous cases of suspension or withdrawal that enable the Ofii to put an end to your material reception conditions at any given point throughout the procedure.
This includes if (articles L.551-16 / ex L.744-8,1° and L.744-7 Ceseda) :
- You leave the region you have been directed to by the Ofii or the housing in which you have been admitted
- You do not comply with the requirements imposed by the administrative authorities, in particular going to the various interviews, presenting yourself to the authorities when being summoned and providing all necessary information to facilitate the procedure
- You have concealed your financial resources
- You have provided false information concerning your family situation
- You have submitted several asylum applications with different identities
Violent behavior or serious breach of housing rules should no longer lead to the withdrawal of the CMA. The Court of Justice of the European Union held (Haqbin, 12th november 2019, aff. C-233/18) that the withdrawal of material reception conditions would violate the principle of proportionality. Since this decision, several French administrative courts have followed this interpretation by the European court.
Since the Conseil d’Etat’s decision (31st July 2019, n°428530), the Ofii can no longer take a withdrawal decision without first following a contradictory procedure enabling you to make observations and potentially present a reinstatement request.
A reinstatement request can be made to the Ofii taking into account three criteria established by the Conseil d’Etat : the vulnerability of the applicant, their needs for material support, the following of the obligations concerning administration authorities.
In case of any change in situation (for example from the Dublin procedure to the normal track), if no new examination has been carried out, it is necessary to ask the Ofii to reinstate those rights. The Ofii is then obliged to re-evaluate the situation according to those criteria.
The Ofii tends to cut the ADA erroneously. You should always verify that the Ofii decision is based on one of the situations listed above, and that it is justified. Important case law exists both at the level of the administrative courts and the Conseil d’Etat.