5. Appealing against a refusal made by the Ofpra before the CNDA court
If your asylum request is rejected by the Ofpra, you may appeal this decision before the National court of asylum law (CNDA). The appeal must be submitted within 1 month starting from the date of the reception of the Ofpra decision.
A. The request for legal aid
Although not mandatory, the assistance of a lawyer is recommended. You can apply for legal aid (AJ) to be assisted for free. You can apply by writing to the “bureau d’aide juridictionnelle” of the CNDA, 35 rue Cuvier 93558 Montreuil-sous-Bois cedex.
You can either fill in the legal aid form (Cerfa n° 12467*02) or make the request on a blank sheet of paper. This request can be sent by fax to: 01.48.18.43.11 or by registered letter with delivery receipt. Do not forget to attach a copy of the Ofpra’s rejection decision.
The application for legal aid needs to be received by the legal aid office within 15 days of notification of the Ofpra decision. After 15 days it is too late to apply for legal aid, even when lodging the appeal.
This 15 days period starts with the “acknowledgement of receipt” established on the Ofpra secure personal space and which corresponds either to the date and time of the first online consultation of your rejection decision, or when the document shared on your personal space has not been consulted after 15 days.
If the decision has been sent by mail, the 15 days start running from the distribution date of the registered letter by the post office.
The legal aid application is suspensive: the 1-month time limit for appealing stops running while the legal aid office examines your request, but will resume running starting from the notification of the decision ruling on the legal aid application. In other words, the time limit will resume running from the number of days it was at when the legal aid application was made.
For example: the Ofpra decision is notified on February 1st 2021 and the legal aid application is submitted on February 7th 2019, 6 days later. Those 6 days must be deducted from the 1 month time period to appeal. If the legal aid office decides to grant legal aid on the 1st of March 2021, the period of appeal starts running again on that day and will therefore be 25 days as 6 days have already passed (1st to 7th of February).
To be on the safe side, you should preferably introduce the appeal as quickly as possible or at least within 15 days of the legal aid decision.
The legal aid office will appoint a lawyer to assist you throughout the process.
You can also choose your own lawyer if they accept legal aid. You then need to make an appointment with them in order to apply for legal aid and to file the appeal.
B. The Appeal
You need to submit the appeal within 1 month after the notification. After this 1 month period, it is no longer possible to appeal.
The appeal must be written in French and sent to the CNDA by registered letter with delivery receipt or by fax (01.48.18.44.20). You may also submit the file directly on site, at the court clerk’s office. Your lawyer can also use Cndém@t.
The appeal must include your first name and surname, date and place of birth, nationality and your address.
If you do not want the hearing to take place by videoconference (online, without having to physically go to the CNDA), you need to mention it in your appeal and explicitly ask to be heard at the premises of the CNDA, in Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis, 93).
You must justify your appeal by explaining the reasons why you are appealing the Ofpra decision.
You need to provide answers to anything contested by the Ofpra, report any elements you may have forgotten such as describing your political activities for example or , provide more information on the timeline contested by the Ofpra, amend incorrect data in the written request or during the interview with the Ofpra, etc.
You can send supporting evidence or documents until the closing date of the appeal appraisal period (indicated on the appointment letter) by registered letter with delivery receipt or by fax (01.48.18.44.20). You need to mention the appeal registration number in your letter.
If you have a lawyer, you should decide together whether or not to add any documents to the appeal. The CNDA judges will examine these documents carefully: particularly their date, their author and the means by which they were obtained. The judges will ask you questions about these documents.
You can for example attach any French document or document from your country of origin supplementing your narrative and your fears of returning due to political activism or a particular situation (proof of militant political activity, religious practice, homosexual relations in France, etc.).
You can also send medical certificates which provide evidence of wounds or scarring. The judges will take these into account.
Any document written in a foreign language must be translated into French. If you include excerpts of association reports or press articles about the situation in your country, it is preferable to have them translated into French (free translation) or English.
Legal or civil status documents must be translated by sworn translators (paid translation). The judges may take into account free translations but if these documents are important for attesting your narrative it is preferable to have them translated by a sworn translator. You can get a list of sworn translators from courts or ask associations.
When you submit your appeal, the CNDA will send you an acknowledgment of receipt with a file number. This will allow you to renew your asylum application certificate.
In theory, the appeal before the CNDA is suspensive: you cannot be sent back to your country before the CNDA has made its decision.
However, in some cases, this appeal is not automatically suspensive when the right to remain is refused (factsheet 2).
C. The hearing
If your application is placed in the normal procedure, the CNDA has 5 months to judge your appeal. If you are placed in the fast-track procedure (factsheet 2):
- in addition to the appeal of the Ofpra decision, you can challenge the decision of placement in the fast-track procedure (get your lawyer to assist you);
- the decision will be made by a single judge within 5 weeks.
However, these time-limits are only indicative.
The hearing is public but you can ask – if you consider it necessary – for a closed hearing (non-public session), especially if you are a minor.
The CNDA court is located in the Paris region (Montreuil, Seine-Saint-Denis): if you live far away, you must plan ahead for transportation costs in order to be present at the hearing. Your presence at the hearing is very important. You can ask the organization that hosts you if it can cover these costs.
If you live in the Paris region, you can go watch the CNDA court hearings to see how they work.
The CNDA court’s decision is displayed at the court’s ground floor (in Montreuil) and sent 3 weeks after the hearing by registered letter, or 1 week in the case of a fast-track procedure.
Because of the pandemic, you can also access the decision on the CNDA’s website on the “rôles de lecture” section, at the date indicated by the Court by clicking on the room number in which you were summoned.
D. If the CNDA grants you protection
If the CNDA grants you refugee status or subsidiary protection, the prefecture has to send you a certificate valid for 6 months which allows you to remain in France.
If the Ofpra has granted you subsidiary protection, you may appeal this decision before the CNDA court and ask fro the refugee status. In any case, you will keep your subsidiary protection.
E. If the CNDA rejects your appeal
The right to remain in France ceases as soon as the CNDA’s decision is read in a public hearing or upon notification of the decision if the application has been rejected by decree (by order of the Court, without a hearing).
- You can appeal before the Conseil d’État within a 2 months period however this appeal does not stop the clock. The Conseil d’État will not re-examine your asylum story but will only check if the procedural rules have been correctly applied by the CNDA.
- You can request a reconsideration of your asylum request by the Ofpra if you can provide new elements (either new information which happened after the CNDA hearing, or information prior to the decision but that that you did not know of before the hearing, or new evidence relating to a disputed fact in the first request).
Any new element must be relevant and must reinforce your well-founded personal fear of being persecuted.
If you request reconsideration, you must report directly to the prefecture (without going to the Spada).
In this case, it is recommended that you prepare your story before reporting to the prefecture because the Ofpra form will need to be handed in within 8 days after you file your application. If the story is not convincing and does not provide any new element, the Ofpra can declare your request inadmissible without having to invite you for an interview.
If the Ofpra rejects your application a second time, a new appeal before the CNDA is possible within a period of 1 month.
F. If your asylum application is rejected
If the CNDA rejects your request, the prefecture will automatically issue an order to leave the territory : obligation to leave French territory (OQTF). It will not wait until the notification of the CNDA’s decision. You can file an appeal against this order but must do so within 15 days.
If your asylum application was registered after March 1st 2019 (after which the 2018-778 law on foreigners’ residence must be applied), the prefecture must inform you that you can apply for a residence permit at the same time as your asylum request. If you have not done so, or a residence permit after the rejection of your asylum application will only be considered eligible by the prefecture on exceptional grounds. You have to justify “new circumstances” to request the right to residence.
If you filed both an asylum application,and an application for a residence permit on other grounds and the prefecture refuses to grant you this permit, the prefecture will then refuse you residence and issue an OQTF order. Sometimes, the prefecture waits for the rejection of your asylum application to take an OQTF order.
In this case, this OQTF order will be based on the rejection of your asylum application and you will have only 15 days to appeal. In your appeal you will have to put forth both arguments related to the rejection of your asylum claim and to the refusal of residence.
A single judge will then decide, following a “faster” procedure, on the rejection of the right of residence and the OQTF, and in case of rejection, the deportation measure may be executed.
In this case, get in touch with a specialized association or an undocumented immigrants collective.