2. Initial steps at the one-stop service for asylum application (GUDA: prefecture and Ofii)
A. “Sorting” of asylum seekers by the police prefecture, and the right to residence
The police prefecture is responsible for your right to residence. Even if you do not have a passport or a national id card the police prefecture must record the information that you provide orally.
Do not miss this appointment because it will be difficult to obtain another one. You must communicate, if needs be, any change of address or “domiciliation” to the police prefecture by registered letter with delivery receipt.
1. Taking of fingerprints
At the prefecture, your fingerprints will be taken to see if you are registered in the Eurodac and Visabio files. The police prefecture has to give you a brochure 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 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 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 into the “Dublin” procedure (factsheet no. 3).
- If the prefecture finds no 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 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.
Note: if you refuse to provide your fingerprints at the police prefecture, you will be automatically placed in the fast-track procedure (see below).
Some police prefectures refuse to register asylum requests if your fingerprints are unreadable, but this is illegal; you have to contact an association or a lawyer to challenge 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 of the in a language that you understand, and a list of associations that can help you.
3. “Normal”, “fast-track” or “Dublin” procedure
You can be placed 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”;
- you ask for a reconsideration of your request.
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. Ask for it if they do not give it to you!
According to the law, the Ofpra has only 15 days to decide your fate, but the delays are longer in practice. Especially in the fast-track procedure, it is essential to carefully prepare your written asylum story on the Ofpra form and to prepare for your interview (factsheet n°4).
If your asylum application is rejected by the Ofpra and you are in the fast-track procedure, only one judge will examine your appeal to the Cnda (instead of 3 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 does not have to be 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 housing (see below) and the allowance (ADA). It is necessary to check in this case that the law indeed allows this reason as justification for taking away the CMA.
4. You receive your asylum application certificate
The prefecture will provide you with an “attestation de demande d’asile” (asylum application certificate), 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 certificate at the date indicated on the summons notice, with:
- The Ofpra registration letter or a certificate from submitting your asylum application;
- Proof of residence or proof of postal address (from a “domiciliation”) not more than 3 months old.
In the normal procedure, the second asylum application certificate is valid for 9 months, then renewable every 6 months. In the fast-track procedure, it is valid for 6 months, then renewable every 3 months.
In the case of an appeal to 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 freely travel in other countries of the European Union.
5. Different cases of refusal or removal of the certificate (loss of the right to stay)
a. Automatic loss of the right to stay in France
The person applying for asylum automatically loses their right to stay in France (and the certificate of asylum application may be refused, withdrawn or its renewal refused) in the following cases:
- if the OFPRA decides the application is ineligible (for all reasons: Article L. 723-11);
- if the person withdraws their asylum application (Ceseda Article L. 723-12);
- if the OFPRA decides to close your application (Ceseda Article L. 723-13);
- if the person is subject to a definitive extradition decision.
b. New cases of loss of the right to stay in the territory
The law of September 10th 2018 added new cases of loss of the right to stay in the territory:
- if the Ofpra decides that a request for reconsideration is ineligible (Ceseda Article L. 743-2, 4 °) or if the Ofpra has rejected the request for reconsideration after an interview (Ceseda, Article L. 723-2 - I);
- if the Ofpra has made a decision rejecting a person who comes from a country considered a safe country of origin3 (POS) or that their presence in France constitutes a serious threat to the public order, public security or State security (Ceseda, Article L. 743-2, ° 7 and Article L. 723-2-I and 5 ° of III);
- if the Ofpra has made a decision rejecting or declaring ineligible an asylum application made by a person subject to an deportation order (other than an OQTF), a sentence banning that person from French territory or an administrative ban from the territory (Ceseda, Article L.743-2, 8 °).
- a deportation order may be pronounced in the event of a serious threat to public order, conduct likely to affect negatively the fundamental interests of the country, connected with terrorist activities, or constituting acts of explicit and deliberate provocation of discrimination, hatred or violence against a particular person or group of persons, or if the personal conduct of the person represents a real, present and sufficiently serious threat to a fundamental interest of society (Ceseda, Art. 521-1 to -3 or L. 521-5);
- a sentence of banning may be imposed by a criminal court for a crime or criminal offense (Criminal Code, Arts 131-30);
- an administrative ban from the territory can be pronounced in the event of a real, present and sufficiently serious threat to a fundamental interest of society or serious threat to public order, the internal security or the international relations of France (Ceseda, Art. L. 214-1 or L. 214-2).
c. OQTF resulting from the loss of the right to stay in the territory
Article L. 743-3 provides that a person whose asylum application has been definitively rejected or who has lost the right to stay in the territory for one of the reasons listed in Article L 743- 2 must leave French territory, "under threat of being subject to a measure of removal" (in practice an OQTF).
A person whose asylum application is still under examination by the CNDA but who has lost their right to stay in the territory because of one of the new cases added by the law of September 10th 2018 (see part b above) may request that the administrative court suspend the removal order following the loss of the right to stay, pending the decision of the CNDA.
For example, a person who has been rejected by Ofpra and comes from a safe country of origin will lose their right to stay and the prefecture will withdraw their asylum application certificate. An OQTF will be issued but this person can then ask the court to suspend the execution of this OQTF while the Cnda examines their appeal.
d. House arrest or placement in detention
The person who is the subject of an OQTF for one of the reasons of loss of the right to stay added by the law of September 10th 2018 (see part b. above) may be placed under house arrest for a period of 45 days renewable once ; they can also be placed in detention (Ceseda, Article L. 744-9-1).
If the person had previously been the subject of an OQTF (before their asylum request), and if they are detained or placed under house arrest, they can also ask the TA (administrative court) to suspend the execution of the deportation order until the decision of the CNDA has been made (Ceseda, Art L743-4).
6. Provision of the Ofpra form
B. The Ofii and the material reception conditions
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 procedure the police prefecture has placed you in (normal, fast-track or Dublin) you have the right to these provisions called CMA, except in certain cases listed below.
Accepting the offer of care now means that the Ofii can force you to go 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 reviewed. It will not be possible to leave your area without warning the Ofii and obtaining an authorization from them.
The Ofii will give you a personal interview to see if 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". You will be a priority for housing and it will have to be appropriate for your condition. At any time during the procedure you can report a situation of vulnerability to the Ofii.
The Ofii must offer you a housing proposal based on the available places in the reception centers for asylum seekers (Cada). To do this, it consults the DN@ file (national file for place management). If there is no place in a Cada, the office could offer you housing in an AT-SA (temporary reception center for asylum seekers, a kind of emergency housing), in a Huda (emergency housing for asylum seekers), in a Cao (reception and orientation center) or in a Prahda facility (reception and housing program for asylum seekers).
The Cada, At-sa and Huha host a majority of families. While the Pradha and Cao host a majority of single people, almost half of them people in the Dublin procedure.
If the Ofii does not offer you any housing, it redirects you to the Spada. You will be told to call 115 to find your own emergency housing.
These reception centers may have different operating rules but they are subject to certain obligations (defined by their contract with the government), particularly concerning administrative, medical and social assistance. It is planned to unify their operation.
In each of these centers, an end to the housing provided to you should follow a particular procedure allowing you, most of the time, to have a delay before your being put into the street. Before leaving the center, you can check with an association that your center is actually following the correct procedure. In a Chum, it is possible to challenge being put into the street1.
3. Postal address
If you are provided with “long-term” housing in a center, you will be able to use this address for your asylum procedure.
If you are not housed in a center that can give you a postal address (though “domiciliation”), you must return to the Spada (factsheet no.1) which will provide you with a postal address at which to receive your mail.
4. The asylum-seeker’s allowance (ADA)
The Ofii will provide you a cash withdrawal card for this allowance usable in ATMs (cash machines).
It is nonetheless advisable to open a bank account (at the ‘Banque postale’). To open an account, you need the asylum application certificate and a valid address. In case of any difficulties, you can contact the Spada.
The ADA amount is 6.80 euros per day for a single person. It is calculated based on the number of family members (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. If you indicate that you are housed somewhere for free, this additional amount will be withdrawn.
From now on, asylum seekers sleeping in emergency housing will have this additional amount withdrawn (even if it is only temporary housing) because the services responsible for the management of emergency housing (SIAO) will have to inform the Ofii every month who are the refugees and asylum seekers they house, and in fact, those people do not have the right to additional amount for the housing.
To receive the material reception conditions (CMA) and specifically the ADA allowance, you must:
- Be over 18 years old;
- Have an asylum application certificate (which gives you the right to reside in France);
- Have accepted and signed the “offre de prise en charge” at the Ofii, 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;
- Respect your appointments by presenting yourself to the authorities (police prefecture, Ofii, house arrest...) and give them all the requested information.
5. Cases of refusal, withdrawal and suspension of CMA
a. Ofii refuses the benefit of material reception conditions or withdraws them automatically (article L744-7 of Ceseda):
- if the person refuses the housing proposal or the orientation to the area determined by the Ofii, but also if the person does not show up within five days in the region of the proposed accommodation, or if he or she decides to leave the place or the region proposed;
- if the person does not comply with the requirements of the asylum authorities, including going to interviews, presenting themselves to the authorities and providing relevant information to facilitate the proceedings.
In these cases, Ofii is no longer required to deliver a written and motivated decision. There will not be an opportunity for the person to submit written observations. The decision extinguishing the material reception conditions takes effect from the date of its signature. It can be contested within two months. The appeal must be preceded by an administrative appeal to Ofii’s Director, who has two months to decide. If there is no answer within two months, the appeal is considered to be rejected. A negative decision, which must be motivated, may be challenged before the administrative court (TA).
b. Ofii suspends the benefit of material reception conditions when the person is incarcerated or subject to detention (CRA).
c. Ofii may refuse or withdraw the benefit of material reception conditions in several situations (Article L. 744-8 of Ceseda).
CMA can be removed:
- if the asylum seeker has concealed his/her financial resources;
- if the applicant has provided false information concerning his/her family situation;
- if the applicant has submitted several asylum applications with different identities;
- in case of violent behavior or serious breach of the housing rules;
- in the case of fraud (section D. 744-36).
The decision terminating the CMA based on Article L. 744-8 must be written, motivated and taken after the applicant has been able to submit to the French Office of Immigration and Integration written observations within fifteen days (Article D. 744-38). The vulnerability must be taken into account and in the first 3 cases below, the reimbursement of the ADA already collected will be demanded. It is possible to point out that the person’s vulnerability should be taken into account throughout the procedure.
The CMA will also cease to be paid to those who have received a decision of inadmissibility by OFPRA following a request for review or a decision of reject from OFPRA if the person has been placed under expedited procedure (procedure accélérée) due to a serious threat to public order or to public security:
- if the person has not appealed against the OQTF (Ceseda, Article L. 744-9-1, II);
- if the administrative court (TA) has rejected the appeal against the OQTF or rejects the request to suspend the execution of the expulsion order.
CMA may be refused:
- if the applicant submits a request for review of his / her asylum application;
- if the applicant has not applied for asylum, without just cause, within 90 days;
- in the case of fraud (Article D. 744-37).
Ofii tends to cut the ADA erroneously. Important case law exists at the level of the administrative courts and the Conseil d’Etat.
People in “Dublin” procedure may be placed under house arrest or placed in detention and their ADA may be replaced by material assistance (Ceseda, Article L. 744-9-1). You will receive ADA throughout the asylum procedure, at least as long as you have the right to stay in France or until your transfer if you are in “Dublin” procedure (factsheet no.3). The payments will stop the month following the end of your right to stay in France.