2. First steps at the single-desk contact point for asylum application (GUDA: prefecture and OFII)

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[ Latest update : 4 July 2024 ]

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 34 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.

Warning! You will be informed at the police prefecture of the languages in which the Ofpra interview can be conducted. You must indicate in which language you want to be heard by the Ofpra (list of available languages). This language will be used throughout the asylum procedure. If you don not choose a language, or if your language choice is “not available”, the interview could take place in a language of which you have sufficient knowledge (Ceseda, Art. L. 521-6). The only possible way of contesting this language choice is before the CNDA during an appeal against the rejection decision of the Ofpra.

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 proof that you have entered the European Union through another country, or that you have applied for asylum in another EU country, you will be able to apply for asylum in France.

Note:before your appointment at the prefecture, you cannot find out whether you are registered in a Eurodac file or not. Though this is becoming more and more uncommon, 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.

Warning! if you refuse to provide your fingerprints at the police prefecture, your application will automatically be 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. 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”, “fast-track” or “Dublin” procedure

The prefecture can place you either in the normal, fast-track or Dublin procedure (normale, accélérée or Dublin) (factsheet n°3).

Warning: the fast-track procedure is not in your best interest (quick and superficial examination of your request).

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 without providing legitimate reason for not applying for asylum within this timeframe;
  • 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 (factsheet n°4).

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, as it is a necessary document to challenge the placement in the fast-track procedure before the CNDA (National Court of Asylum Steps and proceedings).

Note: No appeal is possible against placement in the fast-track procedure before an administrative tribunal. You can only appeal this decision before the Cour nationale du droit d’asile (CNDA) (factsheet n°5). If you have been wrongly placed in the fast-track procedure, it is nevertheless possible to send a registered letter with delivery receipt to the Ofpra to request a transfer of your application to the normal procedure, but the chances of success are low.

According to the law, in the fast-track procedure, 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).

Note: Since the January 26th 2024 law, appeals before the CNDA are to be examined by a single judge, under both the fast-track and the normal procedures ; the distinction between the two procedures therefore no longer has much impact on appeals before the CNDA. This judge delivers a decision in five weeks instead of five months under the normal procedure. In practice, this time limit is not respected, but the examination of cases under the fast-track procedure remains faster than under the normal procedure.

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).

The provision of the material reception conditions (CMA) is not related to the placement in the fast-track procedure, though some motives for refusal of CMAs might be motives for placement in the fast-track procedure as well.

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).

Note: in addition to the certificate, the prefecture will provide you a renewal appointment date. The date of this appointment may be beyond the period of validity of the asylum application certificate, but in that case, your protection will still be maintained.

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.
Note: In some prefectures, you must report to the Spada to request a renewal before the end of the certificate’s period of validity.

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.

Warning ! in several cases, you are no longer entitled to maintenance, and therefore no longer receive an asylum application certificate, during the CNDA appeal : if your application for reconsideration (demande de réexamen) has been rejected; if OFPRA has deemed your application inadmissible on the grounds that you have obtained protection in another European Union Member State; if you are from a safe country and OFPRA has rejected your application (see factsheet n°4).

Length of asylum application certificates (ATDA) according to procedures :

Normal procedureFast-track procedureDublin procedure
ATDA 10 months 6 months 1 month
Renewal 6 months 6 months 4 months (where appropriate)

The asylum application certificate does not permit you to travel freely in other countries of the European Union.

Warning: It is useful to keep copies or pictures of all your documents, especially certificates of asylum application, because if the prefecture were to illegally take them away from you, lawyers would be able to use the copies.

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

At the single-desk contact point, the prefecture must also provide you with the Ofpra form (factsheet no. 4-1).

Note: We strongly advise you to send your file to the Ofpra as a registered letter with delivery receipt in order to have evidence of your submission. If the Ofpra did not send you a registration letter in time, you will thus be able to go to the prefecture for the renewal of your certificate with the copy of the proof that you sent the file.

6. Connection identifier (connection/login ID) on to the OFPRA portal

When you receive your OFPRA form, the prefecture will also give you a letter (in French) giving you your login details for the OFPRA portal and for creating your account.

Warning! It is very important to create your account quickly and to check it regularly (every week), to see if OFPRA has sent you a new document, for example, the convening letter (convocation) to the Ofpra interview (see factsheet n°4). Failure to consult this portal can also lead to missing the deadline for appeal before the CNDA if OFPRA rejects your application.
You can ask Spada for help in setting up this account.
Warning! Since the introduction of the secure personal digital space/account (https://www.ofpra.gouv.fr), the date and time of the first consultation of Ofpra’s rejection decision by the addressee is the date on which the “acknowledgment of receipt” is drawn up. It is from this notification that the appeal period begins. If the document has not been opened or has been opened late, the time limit begins to run 15 days after the document is made available on the Ofpra website (see factsheet n°5).

B. The Ofii and the material reception conditions (CMA)

→ For more detailed information : Asylum application and material reception conditions, Gisti, coll. Les Notes pratiques, december 2023.

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.

Warning! the Ofii will offer that you sign the “offre de prise en charge” (a formal agreement for assistance) to obtain accommodation and the asylum seeker’s allowance. If you accept this agreement, you may be allocated housing and the allowance (ADA). This is a global offer, so if you refuse one part of it, you will not have the right to the rest.

1. Regional orientation (“orientation régionale”)

Accepting the offer of assistance implies that the Ofii can force you to move to another region (a region of residence).

In most instances, you will be housed in a CAES (centre administratif d’examen des situations). You will then be sent to more stable accommodation, usually in the same region.

You are supposed to request authorization from OFII when you wish to leave the region to which you are attached. In practice, such authorization is tacit for travel related to your asylum application. Important : By law, OFII is under the obligation to take your personal and family situation into account before offering a regional orientation. When you go to the Guda, if you think you have legitimate reasons for wanting to stay where you are or go to a region other than the one proposed to you, you must tell the OFII officer. If you forgot to mention those reasons during the interview, you should send them by registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt or by email.

Warning! if the officer considers that your reasons for refusing the orientation are not legitimate and you refuse their offer, you will no longer be entitled to accommodation or benefit.

In practice, the OFII’s assessment of your personal situation is very strict. For example, if your are in the Paris metropolitan region (Ile-de-France), you can apply to stay there in three cases :

  • If your state of pregnancy makes travelling outside Ile-de-France inadvisable. You will need to produce a medical certificate stating that travelling outside Ile-de-France is not advisable;
  • If you are living permanently in Ile-de-France. In this case, you will need to provide the following documents within five days : a solemn declaration by your host (declaration sur l’honneur), a copy of his or her identity document (French ID card or equivalent, or valid residency permit (carte de séjour)), a copy of title deed (ownership title) or rental contract/lease agreement, proof of address less than three months old (electricity or gas bill, rent receipt, tax notice), and any document proving your family relationship, if this is the case;
  • If your spouse works in the Ile-de-France region. In this case, you will need to provide within five days a copy of the employment contract, a copy of your spouse’s identity document, a solemn statement (attestation sur l’honneur) that you’re are living together and proof of address less than three months old. Warning : If you do not want accommodation because you are being accommodated but cannot produce these documents, your refusal of orientation or accommodation will not be considered legitimate and you will be refused CMAs.

2. Vulnerability

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” (art.L.552-3 Ceseda). As a vulnerable person, you will be given priority for housing, and that housing must comply with your specific needs.

Important! You can report a situation of vulnerability to OFII at any time throughout the procedure : do not hesitate to write a recommended letter or an email on that matter. If the ground for vulnerability is medical, OFII will provide a confidential medical certificate (MEDZO) to present to a doctor. Once the doctor has filled the certificate out, you must send it by registered letter with an acknowledgement of receipt to OFII (do not simply deliver it to the OFII mailbox as is sometimes suggested). Keeping a copy of the certificate completed by the doctor is recommended.

3. Housing

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) 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.

OFII will likely contact you at a later date for accommodation ; if you refuse accommodation without presenting a legitimate reason, the CMAs will be withdrawn.

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.

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.

4. Postal address

If you are provided with “long-term” housing by Ofii, 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.

Warning: you have to collect your mail regularly (once a week) and check the website regularly. If you do not go to the Spada for over 3 month, the Spada can close your address (unless this absence is justified).

5. The asylum-seeker’s allowance (ADA)

The Ofii will provide you a card for this allowance. As this card cannot be used 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 (for example at the ‘Banque postale’) during the period of validity of the asylum application certificate (ATDA). To open an account, you need to provide the asylum application certificate and a valid domiciliation address.

In case of difficulties, you can contact the Spada or the accomodation center to help you out.

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 a valid asylum application certificate (which gives you the right to reside in France), i.e. not expired, except if the prefecture’s tardiness in renewing your certificate is the reason you cannot present a valid, unexpired one;
  • 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.

6. Cases of refusal or cessation of the CMA

In each and every case, the Ofii is required to deliver written and motivated decisions.

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.

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):

  • 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 (60 days in Guyane). 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; those can be, for instance, a serious health issue.
  • You refuse the accommodation proposal by the Ofii or the direction to a region determined by the Ofii.

For rejection cases, prior to going to court, you need to write to the general director of the Ofii (rapo@ofii.fr). 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 cessation/termination of the CMA.

There are numerous cases of termination 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) :

  • 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.

Warning! when notified with an “intention of suspending the material reception conditions”, to contest the decision, you can submit written observations within 15 days by registered letter with delivery receipt or by email to contest the decision. If the intention of cessation is not precise on the grounds for cessation, it is recommended to ask OFII for precisions before writing out those observations, as they could be used negatively.

c. A reinstatement request

It is always possible to request the reinstatement of CMAs under the provisions of article 20 of the directive “Accueil” (reception directive).

The application for reinstatement may concern all persons who have been refused or had their CMAs terminated by OFII. In the case of a refusal decision, the application is referred to as a grant application (demande d’octroi).

This type of application is particularly recommended for people who have been able to register their asylum application under the normal or accelerated procedure after having initially been placed under the Dublin procedure (see factsheet n°3) and then considered to be “fugitives” (“en fuite”) under the Dublin Regulation. In this case, OFII is not obliged to automatically re-examine entitlement to CMAs after registration under the normal or accelerated procedure. Only an application for reinstatement triggers this review.

It is therefore up to the person concerned to apply to OFII for reinstatement on the basis of :

  • the person’s vulnerability (non-exhaustive list of reasons for vulnerability: state of health, isolated women or children, previous mutilation or sexual abuse). It is important to enclose any certificates, attestations, photos or other documents that might support this vulnerability and to ask to be called in for an interview to assess vulnerability;
  • material needs (for example, for a family or for a disabled person: in practice, this criterion often overlaps with the grounds for vulnerability);
  • compliance with obligations towards asylum authorities. For example, supporting documents relating to breaches of the Dublin procedure may be attached to the application (proof of transport delays or medical documents explaining absence from an appointment, hospital emergency admission form, social notes, etc.). It is pointless, and counterproductive, to bring up failings for which one does not have good reasons to put forward.

The request for reinstatement of CMAs can be made by registered letter (with acknowledgment of receipt) or sent to contentieux.cma@ofii.fr and must be accompanied by all the relevant supporting documents. It is essential to keep a copy of this letter and the acknowledgement of receipt.

If OFII remains silent for 2 months following receipt of this request, it is considered to be implicitly rejected, and this rejection may be appealed before the TA (administrative tribunal).

In the event of an explicit refusal, the appeal must be lodged within seven days.

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Latest update : Thursday 4 July 2024, 14:44
URL de cette page : www.gisti.org/article5230