3. The Dublin procedure

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[ Latest update : 30 August 2021 ]

> For more details see: Gisti, Les notes pratiques, L’accompagnement des demandeurs et demandeuses d’asile en procédure « Dublin », 2e édition, juillet 2019. (Gisti, Practical guides, Accompanying asylum seekers in the Dublin procedure, April 2018).

According to the rules of Dublin III, only one Member State is responsible for the assessment of an asylum request in the European Union (EU).

According to these rules:

  • If you asked for asylum in another EU member state, this country remains responsible for your asylum request (whether the request is ongoing or rejected);
  • If you haven’t asked for asylum elsewhere, “the Dublin III” regulations provide criteria that will enable France to determine the country responsible for the asylum request. For example, it can be the country which issued your first visa or a residence permit, or the country through which you entered into the EU and in which you first had your identity checked. This responsibility of member states ends twelve months after the date of an illegal crossing of the border. Other, more positive, criteria are provided, such as being a minor or having family in France (articles 7 to 17 of the regulations).

A. The prefecture determines which Member State is responsible for an asylum request

To do so, it consults:

  • the visa information system (Visabio) to determine if you received a visa for another EU member state;
  • the Eurodac file in which your fingerprints are recorded if they were taken in one of the 28 Member States of the EU or in 4 associated countries: Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein.
Note: Although EU member states now almost always record fingerprints in the Eurodac file, it still sometimes happens that fingerprints are not correctly recorded, or even not recorded at all.

The Eurodac file collects data on:

  • asylum seekers (category 1 – fingerprints are kept for 10 years);
  • persons apprehended while illegally crossing an external border (category 2 – fingerprints are kept for 18 months).

Persons who are illegally present on the territory of a member state (category 3) can also have their fingerprints checked and compared with the database, but their fingerprints will be destroyed after being compared.

Warning: in some prefectures, you can be placed in the “Dublin” procedure solely on the basis of your declaration at the Guda police prefecture service desk. The prefecture will carefully examine the information regarding your journey before arriving in France and the visa in your passport, if you have one. However, in most services you will not be placed in the “Dublin” procedure solely on the basis of your declarations, but only if your fingerprints are registered in Eurodac or Visabio, no matter what you have declared.
Note: your fingerprints will be taken during your first appointment at the Guda. Refusing to give your fingerprints does not allow the prefecture to refuse registering your asylum request, but they will place you in the fast-track procedure. It is possible to appeal via suspensive procedures (“référé-liberté”) before an administrative court (TA) to challenge the refusal to record an asylum request with the help of an association or a lawyer.

B. The Dublin Procedure in action

If it is proven that you have traveled through another EU country, you are placed in the Dublin procedure; you will then attend an individual interview either with a translator or with a translator by telephone. The prefecture must provide you with a detailed report of the interview, as well as several information brochures in a language that you understand: one on the taking of fingerprints (brochure A1), one on the “Dublin” procedure (brochure B2) and one about the Eurodac regulations.

Even if it is not the country responsible for the asylum request, France still has the possibility to examine your request (see in particular article 17 of the regulation: discretionary provisions). This is why you must provide the prefecture with any information which could encourage the French authorities to examine your asylum application, such as:

  • the legal presence in France of members of your family with residence permits, who are seeking asylum or who are protected;
  • if you have health problems;
  • if you are pregnant;
  • if you have experienced ill treatment while in the EU country to which it is intended you return to.
Note: If you provide this information at the time of the interview, we also advise you to send it as soon as possible to the prefecture by registered letter with delivery receipt. You will then have proof that you have provided this information and, in the case that you appeal the decision to transfer you to another country, the lawyer or association representing you can use it.

Setting up the regionalization of Dublin procedures

Noting the “poor results” in terms of the application of the “Dublin” regulations and “of the execution of transfer decisions”, the French authorities started an experiment in 2017, through which they entrusted Dublin procedure processing to specialized poles in the regional prefectures. Two decrees were taken in 2017 and renewed in July 2018 to try out managing Dublin procedures in this way in Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur and in Hauts-de-France. A decree of the month of August 2018 expanded this experiment to Burgundy-Franche-Comté. Then, several decrees taken in October 2018 generalized this regionalization.

According to this new procedure, once the Guda has registered the asylum application, people in the Dublin procedure then have to go to one of the 10 specialized regional hubs called regional Dublin hubs (PRD) to have their “Dublin procedure” asylum application certificate renewed. It is thus the same prefect who will continue the implementation of the Dublin procedure and will make the decisions for transfer and house arrest where applicable (in all departments within the purview of the hub) during the determination of the country responsible for your asylum request. The PRD will also take care of organizing the transfer in connection with the border police.

The July 30th 2018 memo lists the competent prefectures charged with applying Dublin regulations, and the numbers of civil servants allotted to the PRDs. Sometimes located several hundred kilometers from people’s place of residence, the prefecture must pay for transportation costs.

A July 6th 2018 note on the fluidity of housing for asylum seekers specifies the housing arrangements for persons in the Dublin procedure, stating that they serve as “preparation for the execution of the transfer”. The Interior Minister asks the prefect to take the decision to transfer as soon as possible, and to provide housing within 130 km of the prefecture, otherwise the Ofii will transfer people to closer housing.

RégionCompetant regional prefectureYou first made your asylum request in the following prefectures:
Hauts-de-France PRD de Lille Lille and Beauvais
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur PRD de Marseille Marseille and Nice
Grand Est PRD de Strasbourg Chalons, Metz and Strasbourg
Bourgogne-Franche-Comté PRD de Besançon Dijon, Besançon and Mâcon
Auvergne-Rhône Alpes PRD de Lyon Lyon, Grenoble and Clermont- Ferrand
Nouvelle Aquitaine PRD de Bordeaux Bordeaux, Limoges and Poitiers
Occitanie PRD de Toulouse Toulouse and Montpellier
Bretagne PRD de Rennes Rennes
Pays de la Loire PRD d’Angers Nantes and Angers
Centre Val-de-Loire PRD d’Orléans Orléans
Normandie PRD de Rouen Rouen and Caen

C. Deadlines

During the “Dublin” procedure, France and the country responsible for your request have deadlines to respect (a time limit to contact the other country’s authorities and a time limit to answer).

Time limit to contact the other countryTime limit to for the other country to answer FranceTime limit to transfer
1. requests to take back 3 months 1 month 6 months ((1 year in the case of imprisonment; 18 months in the case of escape) - If appeal is rejected by administrative court: the time limit starts over.
1. requests to take back (if you are in the Eurodac category 1file*) 2 months 15 days Idem (6, 12 ou 18 months)
2. Requests to take charge) 3 months 2 months Idem
2. Requests to take charge (if you are in the Eurodac category 2 file **) 2 months 1 month if it is urgent Idem
Detention center 1 month 15 days 6 weeks

* Category 1: fingerprints of all those who have applied for asylum in Member States.

** Category 2: fingerprints of people who have been apprehended while illegally crossing the external border of a Member State.

There is also a category 3: fingerprints of people who were staying illegally on the territory of a Member State, when the competent authorities consider it necessary to check the existence of any previous asylum application.

Warning: if you go through a CAES (factsheet 1), your fingerprints may be taken for the first time; it is important to keep evidence of it because it proves the start of your “Dublin” procedure. Indeed, after your transfer to another housing center (Chum, CAO…) in another region, the prefecture could start the procedure all over again.This can be challenged in court.

If you have not been transferred within 6 months after a country consented to taking responsibility for your claim (date stated on the transfer decision), France becomes the country responsible for your asylum request. You can check the end of this 6-month time limit on the “laissez-passer” the prefecture has given you. If you appealed against the transfer decision, the 6-months deadline starts over again at the date of notification of the court’s decision (see F. Appealing a transfer decision).

D. You are declared to be “on the run”

You will be declared on the run (“en fuite” in French) if you missed one or more appointments at the prefecture, the Ofii, with the police or at the airport. Recently, more and more people are said to be “on the run”.This happens as soon as the asylum application is submitted because the prefectures have been assigning more asylum seekers to house arrest, which implies asylum seekers are obliged to sign in regularly at a police station. In addition, the appointment letters for the prefectures are sometimes written in such frightening terms (“appointment at the expulsion office, come with your luggage, go to the border police office in order for execution of the transfer”) that asylum seekers are afraid to go...and are declared to be “on the run”.

Warning: If you are declared to be “on the run”, you should rapidly get in touch with a lawyer or an association to challenge this status before ant administrative court (see the Gisti jurisprudence note and the model-letters for asking the court for interim relief).

If you are declared to be “on the run” and either you do not challenge this or you lose your court case, France will only become responsible for your asylum request 18 months later. Thus, you will have to wait 18 months to be able to apply for asylum again in France.

If you are declared to be “on the run” the Ofii will stop giving you the ADA allowance. Regarding accomodation, it depends on each housing center: some will try to keep you as long as possible and some will not hesitate to kick you out. After 18 months, you can return directly to the Guda to submit your asylum application in France. The Ofii may refuse to provide you with material reception conditions. In this case, contact an association to see if you can challenge this decision.

E. Consequences for your asylum request

During the entire time of the Dublin procedure:

  • You cannot make an asylum request in France. The prefecture will provide you with a specific “Dublin procedure” asylum application certificate;
  • You have the same rights as other asylum seekers (asylum seeker’s allowance, health insurance, schooling for your children, etc.). As for housing, you do not have the right to a place in a housing center for asylum seekers (Cada) but you can be hosted in another type of center (factsheet 2);
  • You can be placed under “house arrest” ("assignation à résidence") during part of the procedure and even be placed in a detention center, before being sent to the country responsible for your asylum request. Detentions are more and more frequent, especially since the adoption of the March 20th 2018 law for a good application of the European asylum system” which legalizes detention for most people in the “Dublin” procedure, considering that there is a “non-negligible escape risk” justifying this placement.

F. Appealing a “Dublin” transfer decision

When the country responsible for you asylum request has given its approval, a transfer ruling is notified. You may contest this decision before the administrative court (this appeal suspends the transfer).

Pay close attention to the deadlines:

  • You must present your case to the administrative court within 15 days of receiving the transfer decision.
  • If you are placed in detention or house arrest you must bring your case before the court within 48 hours of receiving the transfer decision.
Warning: requesting legal aid does not stop the clock for these deadlines. Your transfer cannot take place either before the end of this period nor before a judge has made their decision.

Before you go to court, you should contact a lawyer or an association that knows these procedures in order to assess how useful it would be. Certain procedural irregularities may lead the judge to void the transfer decision (for example if your right to be informed is not respected or if there is a translation problem).It is also possible to use substantive elements, for example if you have been mistreated in the country France wants to send you back to, or if the conditions of reception for refugees are bad in this country (failure of the state). Both of these types of arguments are important for challenging a transfer.

> For more information on challenging a transfer decision, consult the practical note on the Gisti website: L’accompagnement des demandeurs et demandeuses d’asile en procédure « Dublin » (Accompanying asylum seekers in the “Dublin” procedure).

Appealing is a double-edged sword. If you appeal a transfer decision, the 6-months time period to transfer you is not calculated starting from the answer of the country responsible for your asylum request, but from the notification of the final court ruling. Therefore, the 6-months time limit begins “all over again” starting from the date of notification of the court ruling. Thus, if the transfer decision was notified to you at the end of the “Dublin Procedure” (after the 4th or 5th month), France will have a new 6 months period to transfer you, starting from the notification of the decision.

If the judge annuls the decision on strictly procedural grounds (for example the obligation to inform was not respected), the prefect can take another transfer decision in due form. However, if the decision was annulled for substantive reasons (for example an error made by the administration that cannot be “repaired”, or if you have been subjected to mistreatment in the country responsible for your asylum application, or that country has no “capacity” to receive you – failed state) the prefecture cannot issue a new transfer order. Thus, if the judge has annulled the decision of transfer and made an injunction to the prefecture to register the asylum application, the prefecture will have to do so.

Thus, after a hearing, even if the court annulled the decision of transfer, it is better not to show up to your prefecture appointments, and to wait until the end of the initial period of 6 months before returning to the prefecture. In any case, you should consult an association or your lawyer before going to the prefecture.

If you had appointments scheduled for a transfer procedure, and if the order of transfer was annulled, you are not held legally to show up to those appointments. However, very often, if you do not show up to these appointments, the prefecture will declare you “on the run” and you will lose the ADA allowance (factsheet 2).

Warning: when notifying the transfer decision, some prefectures directly send asylum seekers to the administrative court to appeal the decision. By signing a very short form written in French, asylum seekers can thus appeal without realising that they are doing so. A court-appointed lawyer (who does not necessarily know this type of litigation) then pleads the case without the asylum seeker being present, and with very little information to defend them. After several weeks, a decision - often a rejection – is notified by mail.

It is important that you are able to meet your lawyer in order to provide them with all the useful information.f they do not call you, try to contact the court clerk to find out the date of the hearing which will generally be held a few days later.

In case of an appeal of the court’s decision -either by the prefect or by you- the time period after which France becomes responsible for your asylum claim can not be extended. The prefecture must register your application,in the normal procedure by default.

If you wish to appeal the decision of the administrative court rejecting your request, you should know that judgment will take a long time. If you have the means to challenge this rejection, an appeal can be useful, in particular if you are later declared to be”on the run”.

G. Appealing a house arrest order

If you are placed under “house arrest” ("assignation à résidence"), you will usually have to go to a police station, often twice a week or more, to sign a register.

If you fear being arrested there, ask an association for advice before deciding to avoid the house arrest, because doing so could also have serious repercussions: being declared to be “on the run” and having to wait 18 months without any rights before being able to ask for asylum in France.

Appealing a “house arrest” decision will have the same consequences as appealing a transfer decision (the 6-month time period after which France becomes responsible for your request starts again from the date of the court’s decision).

Warning: The practices of the prefectures quickly change, because of the government’s deliberate attempt to transfer more people or declare them “on the run”. The choices you must make at the different stages of the Dublin procedure (appeals, invitations to appointments) will have more or less significant consequences depending on the prefectures (depending on their propensity to carry out arrests, declaring people to be “on the run”).

>For the different practices in the prefectures of the Île-de-France region see here

Warning: If you haven not been transferred at the end of the 6-month period starting on the day when the country responsible for your asylum request gave its agreement for your transfer, and you have not been declared to be “on the run”, France becomes responsible for your asylum application. You can go back to the Spada or the prefecture depending on the regions (in the Parisian region you can go directly to the Spada without getting an appointment through the Ofii telephone number again). You can ask an association for advice before doing so.

H. Transferred persons who come back to France

If you come back to France after being transferred to another EU member state, different situations can occur:

  • the prefecture refuses to register your asylum application. In that case, contact an association to take legal action against the refusal;
  • the prefecture accepts to register your application but places you again in the “Dublin” procedure; it appears that prefectures have been encouraged to do this. It’s possible to explain to the prefecture that you were subject to an obligation to leave the territory of the country to which you were transferred, or explain that the authorities forced you to go back to France. If you have kept some documents proving this you must bring them (decision of the country asking you to leave their territory, photos of the mistreatment you were subject to, etc.). It can also be useful to bring documents proving that you have strong links to France; they can influence the prefecture’s decision. Try to go to the prefecture with a person who speaks French and who can explain your situation. It’s important to always keep a copy of your obligation to leave the territory of the country initially responsible for your request, because some prefectures keep this document. If the prefecture doesn’t take it into account, you will be able to produce this proof in front of the judge when you are appealing your transfer decision.
  • the prefecture registers your asylum request but you are placed in the “fast-track” procedure (procédure accélérée) because you “failed to comply with the Dublin procedure”. In that case, contact an association to engage legal proceedings if, following this, the Ofii refuses to grant you the ADA allowance.
  • finally, in the best-case scenario, the prefecture can register your asylum request in the normal procedure and hand you the Ofpra application file.

A criminal punishment which was already applied in other cases has just been extended to persons in the Dublin procedure (Ceseda, Art. L. 624-3): the court can sentence any person who has avoided or who has tried to avoid the execution of a transfer decision to three years’ imprisonment. This measure particularly targets persons who return to France after their transfer. Similarly, a transferred person who has re-entered France without authorization will be punished by three years’ imprisonment.

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Latest update : Friday 23 July 2021, 13:02
URL de cette page : www.gisti.org/article5231