1. Reception of asylum-seekers

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[ Latest update : 17 November 2020 ]

A. SPADA reception center

In order to apply for asylum in France, you must first of all report to a first reception center (Spada or Pada). You may not go directly to the prefecture or to the Ofpra (French office for the protection of refugees and stateless persons).

Note: In the Paris metropolitan region (Ile-de-France), a new system is in place since the beginning of May 2018 for applying for asylum. To get an appointment at the Spada. You first have to call a number managed by the Ofii (French office for immigration and integration). The agent will ask you some questions about your date of entry into France, your civil status and the civil status of your family accompanying you and your state of health, etc. Then they will send you a text message confirmation to the phone number that you give them, with the date and time of your Spada appointment.

The Ofii gives out brochures explaining the proceedings but translations are not provided in all relevant languages (www.ofii.fr/demande-d-asile). Certain translations are available by telephone (English, Arabic, Dari, Pashto, Spanish, Tamil, and Mandarin). If you don’t speak any of the available languages you can try to get translation help from certain day-centers.

The number you must call (01 42 50 09 00) is difficult to get through to. The “dematerialization” (paperless system) of the appointment booking system put in place in many police prefectures makes the asylum seekers waiting to apply invisible, and also makes it impossible to argue if there is any problem.

Warning: It is important to not miss your appointment at the Spada at the correct date and time.

You must go as soon as possible to the Spada. Even though there is no time limit for requesting asylum and you can request asylum even after years of living in France, if you say that you arrived in France more than 90 days ago, the prefecture will place you in the fast-track process (factsheet no. 2-1). This fast-track process is less favorable for you.

Each Spada is managed by an association which works on behalf of the French government. Its role is multiple since it must inform you about asylum, give you the necessary documents to file an application for protection, and help you with the asylum application procedures, especially if you are not living in a housing center.

1. Inform you about asylum

The Spada must 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. Help you with the registration procedure

The Spada must help you fill out the asylum request registration form and check that the file is complete, in order to send it to the prefecture.

To complete the form, the Spada officer will ask you questions about:

  • Your civil status (first names and surname, nationality, family situation);
  • 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…;

The form and a photo taken by webcam will be sent to the prefecture.

Note: even if you do not possess a passport or identity card, the Spada must register your asylum request and note the information you provide orally. The questions about your journey are to check if you have travelled through other countries of the European Union in order, if this is the case, to apply the so-called “Dublin” procedure (factsheet no. 3). Some police prefectures will only place you in the Dublin procedure if your fingerprints are in a file, while others also use what you have declared during the interviews.

If you do not want to answer these questions or if the prefecture realizes that you have given false information, the prefecture can decide that you do not wish to “cooperate” and can place you in the fast-track procedure, which is not in your interest (factsheet no. 2).

3. Make an appointment for you at the prefecture service window

The Spada must obtain an appointment for you at the prefecture service window called GUDA 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.

Warning: this can take a long time in some police prefectures – you should in this case make contact with an association to see if an appeal is possible.

4. If you have no housing

If, after your visit to the GUDA, the Ofii does not offer you long-term housing, you must return to the SPADA 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 with you (factsheet 4);
  • Help you write your asylum story and translate it (factsheet 4);
  • Help you obtain the health insurance that asylum seekers have a right to (factsheet 6);
  • Provide you with special assistance (vouchers, food parcels) and direct you to the municipal reception service if necessary (CCAS or Municipal center for social action).

The Spada has the obligation to help you, as this organization is financed by the government with a contract requiring it to fulfill certain tasks. If the Spada does not help you enough, after being registered by the Spada, you can contact an association which helps asylum seekers.

Warning: you must go to collect your mail very regularly (once a week) or check the center’s website if you can’t. If you do not go to the Spada during one month, the Spada can cancel your address unless your absence is justified (Ceseda Art. R 744-3). The police prefecture can also, if you miss appointments, declare you are “fleeing” if you are in the Dublin procedure (factsheet no. 3)

5. Accompany and domicile beneficiaries of international protection

Following the new contract bid made by the Ofii, the Spadas are also responsible for accompanying and domiciling beneficiaries of international protection.

B. The centers of reception and examination of situations

In order to remedy the malfunctions of the reception procedure, the state set up a second system giving access to the asylum procedure which is spreading to the entire French territory. It’s composed of centers of reception and examination of situations (CAES). In some regions in particular in the Hauts-de-France and Ile-de-France, CAES have opened to provide shelter and an examination of the administrative situation as soon as possible, before directing asylum seekers, more or less quickly, towards housing depending on their administrative status (see the Cimade’s map to know their locations).

Each CAES as a specific reception capacity. The stay should not exceed ten days in theory. In practice, the stay is longer because of the recurring lack of housing spaces for asylum seekers in France. Depending on their administrative situation, asylum seekers can be sent to centers which can have a coercive functioning. People in the Dublin procedure who go through a CAES in the Parisian region are, most often, hosted in centers located in Ile-de-France which can be “house arrest” centers in which id checks and arrest can take place. If those centers are full, people are sent outside of the Parisian area to centers of reception and orientation (CAO) or directly to one of the Pradhas, centers aiming to facilitate deportations of persons in the Dublin procedure.

In Ile-de-France, in order to access a CAES, you must either go through one of the three day-reception centers for isolated persons (see below) or be spotted by a roving street team. This new preliminary step makes it impossible to have a direct access to a CAES. This allows the government to avoid the formation of waiting lines in front of centers, such as the ones formed in front of the former reception center at La Chapelle (the former “bubble”). All of this once again allows the government to make asylum seekers invisible and to hide the fact that France has a deficient reception policy.

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Latest update : Thursday 3 January 2019, 11:51
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