Asylum in France

Obtaining political asylum in France involves a complex process, requiring a specialized lawyer in refugee and protection matters to prepare a defendable refugee file for the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA). If denied, appeals can be made to the National Court of Asylum (CNDA) to potentially reverse the decision.

France is renowned for its commitment to human rights, leading Western Europe in accepting refugees and hosting numerous human rights organizations. Strasbourg, France, is home to the European Court of Human Rights, contributing to the country’s reputation as welcoming and friendly towards foreigners. Consequently, many Russian refugees opt for France for political asylum.

Who is involved in the processing of asylum applications?

The following information is only about state institutions responsible for processing asylum applications, involving various agencies and associations during the procedure.

  • PADA

PADAs are platforms in each department for asylum seekers, often with multiple offices. They assist migrants in arranging their first prefecture appointment.

  • OFII

OFII evaluates the need for special reception conditions for migrants. It facilitates both the asylum application process and integration of those granted protection, offering services like the Republican Integration Contract, which includes 200 hours of French lessons. OFII works closely with OFPRA.

  • OFPRA (French Office of Immigration and Integration)

OFPRA, a key government agency for asylum seekers, decides on applications. Applicants must submit relevant documents and describe their situation concisely, focusing on the most crucial and documented facts of their story.

Use press references or videos to document your specific experiences, not the overall situation in your country. During the individual interview with the protection officer, prepare to answer personal questions. Stay calm, as nervousness may be misinterpreted.

Many asylum seekers report positive experiences with OFPRA staff. Be consistent in your story, avoiding contradictions between your written account and verbal responses. Don’t repeat your written statement, as the officer is already familiar with it. Answer only the questions asked.

If you don’t speak French, an interpreter will assist you. OFPRA, located in Fontenoy-sous-Bois near Paris, processes all asylum seekers in France, regardless of their city of residence.

  • CNDA (Refugee Appeals Court)

If OFPRA denies your application, you can appeal to the National Court of Asylum (CNDA). Below is a brief overview of the participants in a CNDA hearing to help you understand how your case will be processed.

At the CNDA, additional documents or information relevant to your case may be requested. Both you and your lawyer have the chance to demonstrate why OFPRA’s decision was incorrect. The process involves a presenter summarizing your case, followed by a judge and assessors asking you further questions. Your lawyer will also provide insights. During the hearing, answer questions vigilantly and confidently, even if they are not in chronological order. If you’re not fluent in French, an interpreter is provided at no cost, and the state covers lawyer fees in most cases. However, it’s advisable to hire a paid lawyer, as state-appointed lawyers often lack time to meet with asylum seekers before the hearing and might not be fully familiar with your case or specialized in your specific situation.

OFPRA processes asylum applications under both normal (classic) and accelerated procedures. The primary difference lies in the processing time: 2 weeks for the accelerated procedure versus 6 months for the classic one. The accelerated procedure is typically for individuals from “safe countries,” those appealing after a refusal, providing false documents, or refusing fingerprinting. However, OFPRA may choose to process family members under the same procedure, as seen in cases like two sisters who initially had different procedures but were both eventually handled under the classic procedure.

Asylum procedure

Step 1: Submission of application

Visit the primary reception center (SPADA) in your residence area for a referral to the Prefecture within 3-10 days from the date of referral.

Step 2: Reception at the Prefecture

The prefecture will fingerprint you, decide the procedure type (regular, accelerated, Dublin), issue a refugee certificate and OFPRA form, and refer you to OFII for social assistance.

Step 3: Submitting an application to OFPRA

Submit the completed form with supporting documents to the Prefecture within 21 days of admission.

Step 4: File review

OFPRA staff will interview you and review your submitted materials, with the option for you to have an interpreter and/or an attorney present.

Step 5: Decision

If approved, civil status documents are issued. A refusal can be appealed at the CNDA.

Step 6: Appeal to the CNDA

You can appeal OFPRA’s decision within one month to the CNDA, which may either overturn or confirm the refusal.

Navigating the complex asylum process, with its high requirements and various nuances, can be challenging due to language, legal, and legislative barriers. To avoid complications, it’s crucial to consult specialists and experts for advice on obtaining political asylum at each stage.

Contact us for clarification on any aspect of the process and assistance with interacting with the relevant administrative structures.

For assistance or advice on obtaining political asylum in France, contact our asylum lawyersfor a consultation via messenger or by mail or our contact form. We offer comprehensive support, including accompanying you to all authorities and providing expert advice throughout the procedure.

Iryna Berenstein
Associated Partner
Mrs. Berenstein is a distinguished and outstanding lawyer with profound experience and exceptional legal knowledge in the field of International Private Law, Financial Law, Corporate Law, investment regulation, Compliance, Data Protection, and Reputation Management.

Asylum in France FAQ

Can I get asylum in France?
Upon entering France to seek asylum, individuals must register as asylum seekers with the Prefecture, the French authority responsible for residence rights.
How much do asylum seekers get in France?
If the OFII provides you housing, you'll receive 6.80€ per day. For a spouse or children in France, it's an additional 3.40€ per day per person, plus 7.40€ per day for an unhosted spouse.
What happens to asylum seekers in France?
You are allowed to stay in France for ten years, after which you are eligible for permanent residence. You can receive a travel document valid for all countries except your country of nationality or habitual residence.
Who can seek asylum in France?
If you fear returning to your country of origin (or previous residence if stateless) due to risks of serious harm related to race, religion, nationality, political opinions, social group membership, or if fleeing war or torture, you may seek protection.