Applying for asylum in France

Applying for asylum is a process that allows people born outside of France to obtain refugee status or subsidiary protection against persecution or the risk of persecution in their country of origin.

Verified by Alexandra Lachowsky on 30/05/2022

If you are in France and face the risk of persecution or mistreatment if you return to your country, you can apply for asylum.

This process may allow you to remain in France long term by granting you refugee status or “protection subsidiaire” (subsidiary protection).

It is strongly recommended that you seek support from an organisation offering free services, known as an “association”, specialised in supporting asylum seekers.

Which countries can you apply from?

To apply for asylum in France, you must be in France. It is not possible to apply for asylum from abroad.

  • If you are currently in another country, you can apply for an asylum visa or a “visa au titre de l’asile” from the local French consulate. Contact details can be found on this website.

    This visa will allow you to come to France. Once you are in France, you can submit an application for asylum.

  • Under the Dublin Regulation, you need to file your application for asylum in the first country you entered, within the European Union.

    If you file your application in France but entered the European Union via another country, France may declare that it does not have jurisdiction to examine your application.

    In exceptional cases, France may still decide to process your application, if you have family in France or a health issue, for example, or if you have experienced mistreatment in the country where they want to send you. However, this is very rare.

Step 1: “pré-accueil” at “SPADA

To get started, you will need to contact the organisation that is responsible for welcoming asylum seekers in your département, referred to as the “structure de première accueil du demandeur d’asile (SPADA)”.

Please note: the process may slightly differ for this first step between one region and another.

  • Contact details depend on where you are located:

    • For the region of Ile-de-France: contact the “Office français de l’immigration et de l’intégration (OFII)” by phone on 01 42 500 900 to make an appointment at a “SPADA”.
    • For other regions: consult the list of “SPADA to find the one in your départment and contact them directly to make an appointment.
  • Someone will complete a registration form with you to begin the asylum application process.

    They will then make an appointment for you with the organisation that records asylum applications, known as the “guichet unique (GUDA)”, at the local French administration centre or "préfecture".

    If you require an interpreter, please inform the person at “SPADA”. They will need to request an interpreter when arranging the appointment.

    Once the appointment has been booked, the person from “SPADA” will give you a document called a “convocation” specifying the place, date and time of your appointment at the “préfecture”. The appointment will usually take place within the next two weeks.

Step 2: Recording the asylum application at the “GUDA

Once you have received your “convocation” from “SPADA”, you will need to go to the appointment at the “guichet unique (GUDA)” of the “préfecture” so your application is registered.

  • You must bring the following documents with you to the appointment:

    • Four identity photos that meet the standards requested by the prefecture, if they have were not taken at the “SPADA
    • The “convocation” documents you received at the “SPADA
    • Your identity documents, if you have them.

    At this stage, you will not be obliged to provide a document proving your place of residence, known as “justificatif de domicile”.

  • You will first meet an agent of the “préfecture” who will take your fingerprints and ask you some questions in an individual interview or "entretien individuel". An interpreter will be present if you don't speak French and if you requested one when you made your appointment.

    The questions will be about the journey you have made from your home country to France. Their aim is to determine if France is the country responsible for your asylum application.

  • At the end of the appointment, the “préfecture” agent will give you several documents:

    • A declaration that you have started an application for asylum called “attestation de demande d’asile”. Things to know about this document:
      • It authorises you to remain in France.
      • It is valid for a limited period, which will be specified on the document, generally between six and ten months.
      • It can be renewed.
      • It doesn’t allow you to work.
    • The report of your individual interview or “entretien individuel”.
    • Information leaflets in a language you understand on:
      • determining the state responsible for your asylum application and fingerprinting, which enables states to establish whether you have already submitted an application for asylum in another country or whether your fingerprints have already been taken at a border (brochure A)
      • placement in the Dublin procedure, which establishes which country is responsible for examining your application for asylum and the possibility of being transferred to another country, as well as the possibility of contesting this transfer decision (brochure B)
      • the Eurodac Regulation which concerns the database in which fingerprints are recorded on European Union territory.
    • A form to complete to submit your asylum application known as a “formulaire de demande d’asile”. This will only be included if the “préfecture” considers the French state responsible for your application and does not initiate the Dublin procedure.
  • If you have already applied for asylum in another European state, arrived in the European Union via another country before France, or obtained a visa for another country, the “préfecture” may declare that France does not have jurisdiction to process your application for asylum.

    In this case, they will initiate the Dublin procedure to arrange your return to the first country you entered in the European Union so that this country can process your application. This is called a transfer decision or “décision de transfert”.

    You will be informed of this procedure in writing. You can ask for this decision to be changed by asking the the administrative court known as the “tribunal administratif” with the support of an “association” or a lawyer.

  • If the “préfecture” deems that France has jurisdiction to examine your application for asylum, you will meet a representative from the French Office of Immigration and Integration or “Office français de l’immigration et de l’intégration (OFII)” directly after your interview at the “préfecture”.

    They will ask you questions to evaluate your personal situation and take care of your access to material conditions of hosting or “conditions matérielles d’accueil”. These conditions consist of:

    • an administrative address where you can receive mail, known as “domiciliation”, and which you can provide during your administrative proceedings
    • an offer of accommodation
    • financial assistance known as an asylum applicant allowance or “allocation pour demandeur d’asile (ADA)”.

Step 3: Send your asylum application to “OFPRA

Following your appointment at the “GUDA” at the “préfecture”, you have 21 days to send your complete asylum application to the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons or “Office français de la protection des réfugiés et des apatrides (OFPRA)”.

  • It is very important to thoroughly prepare the way you tell your story. It is advisable to write your account down in a document that should include:

    • your personal background, including surnames, first names, date and place of birth, nationality, religion, ethnicity, and the life you had in your country
    • your motives for asking for protection in France: the reasons why you have faced, or fear that you will face, threats or persecution
    • the events that led to your departure
    • your migration journey from your home country to France.

    This document must be written in French. It should not be too long (around two or three pages) but it must contain the key facts supporting your application for protection in a clear, chronological way. Your story needs to be very detailed, especially if you don’t have evidence to support it.

    You can get help writing your story. It is recommended that you seek support from an “association” specialising in assisting asylum seekers or from a lawyer.

    This document will then serve as the basis for your interview with the service responsible for examining asylum applications, called the “Office français de la protection des réfugiés et des apatrides (OFPRA)”. You must therefore be able to tell it orally.

  • First, make a copy of your certificate of your asylum application or “attestation de demande d’asile” for your application, and keep the original with you.

    To include in your application:

    • the asylum application form or “formulaire de demande d’asile” that you received at your “GUDA” appointment
    • two identity photos that meet the standards requested
    • a copy of your valid certificate of your asylum application or “attestation de demande d’asile
    • the account of your story in French
    • if possible, your travel documents and any civil status documents for you or your family members.

    Then submit the document directly in person to “OFPRA”, or send it by post to the following address:

    "OFPRA
    201 rue Carnot
    94 136 Fontenay-sous-Bois Cedex"

    Send it by registered post with recorded delivery or “lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception”. This is the only way to prove it has been received. Keep the receipt as proof of postage.

    Once the file has been sent to “OFPRA”, you will receive a letter at the address you indicated in your application form confirming that your application for asylum has been registered. If you have not received anything within one month, you can contact them to find out how your case is progressing.

Step 4: The “OFPRA” decision

Once you have submitted your complete application, the “OFPRA” will usually give you an appointment for a more in-depth interview.

You will receive a document called a “convocation” by post at the address you specified on your application form. This document will specify the location, date and time of your appointment with “OFPRA”.

  • You can attend this interview with your lawyer or an organisation called an “association” specifically authorised to accompany asylum seekers. You will find a list of these “associationshere.

    The person accompanying you will not be allowed to speak for you, but will be able to make comments at the end of the interview. They can also help prepare you for the interview beforehand.

    The “OFPRA” may summon you several times about your application if they believe more information is required.

  • At the end of the process, you should receive a response from “OFPRA” by post to the address you provided in your application.

    The response should usually be sent no later than six months after your application was submitted. Unfortunately, the waiting periods can be much longer, sometimes up to two years. In this case, you will receive a letter to inform you that the review of your application will take more than six months.

  • If the decision of “OFPRA” is negative, you can ask for the decision to be changed by lodging an appeal or “appel” to the National Court of Right to Asylum or “Cour nationale du droit d’asile”.

    You have a period of one month from the date you were notified of the decision to appeal, which means from the date you received the decision letter.

    It is strongly recommended to be accompanied by an “association” for this procedure or to hire a lawyer specialised in the rights to asylum. If your resources are too limited to pay for their services, you can apply for legal aid or “aide juridictionnelle” to cover the costs:

    • the application for “’aide juridictionnelle” must be made no more than 15 days after receiving the decision letter
    • it must be made using a specific form and sent by registered post or “lettre recommandée avec avis de réception” to the “CNDA”.

Renew your “attestation de demande d’asile” certificate

If the document authorising you to remain in France while your application is being processed, called the “attestation de demande d’asile”, is going to expire soon, you will need to renew it at the “préfecture”.

This document will be renewed for six months, and can be renewed again throughout the entire asylum application process.

Request the right to work in France

You can request a document authorising you to work, known as a work permit or “autorisation de travail”, if:

  • you submitted your application for asylum more than six months ago and your application is still being examined by “OFPRA
  • or you have filed an appeal against the decision of the “OFPRA” refusing you asylum.

The application for a work permit or “autorisation de travail” must be submitted to the “préfecture” at the same time as you apply for the renewal of the “’attestation de demande d’asile” certificate.

To apply for a work permit:

  • complete the application form online
  • attach a document to your application that proves you have found a job in France, such as an employer statement that you will be hired called a “promesse d’embauche” or an employment contract called a “contrat de travail”.

Find support

In France, there are many services that can support you, give you advice, and assist you with procedures and paperwork. Most of them are free of charge.

  • Authorised associations or “associations habilitées” can offer highly specialised services to asylum seekers.

    • These services are free of charge.
    • They can inform you about your rights, advise you, support you in your administrative procedures and come with you to your meeting with the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons or “Office français de la protection des réfugiés et des apatrides (OFPRA)”.
    • Language available: mainly French, interpretation possible.
    • Contact: you can find a “association habilitée” near you in this directory.
  • La Cimade” is an organisation that specialises in supporting all immigrant and migrant people, and refugees in France, particularly people facing violence.

    • This service is free of charge.
    • They will be able to inform you and support you in your administrative procedures related to the right of residence in France, and direct you to other services depending on your personal situation.
    • Languages available: French, English and Spanish.
    • Contact :
      • without an appointment at a centre near you
      • by telephone on 01 40 08 05 34 or 06 77 82 79 09 on Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Associations” are organisations that offer various services. Some are specialised in immigration.

    • These services are free of charge.
    • They can inform you about your rights in France, and sometimes support you with immigration procedures.
    • Language available: mainly French.
    • Contact: you can search by region and department in this directory.
  • ARDHIS is an organisation which supports members of the LGBTQIA+ community in their asylum or residency applications.

    • This service is free of charge.
    • They can assist you with your paperwork.
    • Appointments are either in person in Paris or online.
    • Languages available: mainly French and English.
    • Contact: preferably by email at [email protected] or by leaving a voicemail on 09 72 47 19 55 to be called back.
    • If you do not live in Ile-de-France, you can look for another “association” specialised in supporting LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers on this directory.

While the utmost care has gone into providing you with the most accurate and up to date information, this page is not intended to replace legal or professional advice. Laws and procedures change regularly so it is important to consult qualified professionals.

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