Obtaining political asylum in France is a complex and lengthy process. Only a qualified lawyer specializing in refugee and protection issues can create a refugee file that can be successfully defended in the special organization for refugees in France (OFPRA - OFPRA). If refugee status is denied at first instance, there is a special CNDA Refugee Court of Appeal that can reverse the OFPRA decision and recognize the applicant as a refugee.
Among European countries, France has always been considered a country where it is customary to protect human rights. Of all Western European countries, it is the leader in accepting refugees and ranks first in terms of the number of public human rights organizations. It is in France, in Strasbourg, that the European Court of Human Rights is located. In the minds of many people, France has always been and remains a hospitable and benevolent country to foreigners. For these and many other reasons, Russian refugees choose this particular country as their political asylum.
Who is involved in the examination of asylum applications?
The information below is for public institutions only. It is they who deal with the consideration of applications for political asylum. There are many agencies and associations that people should interact with during the asylum procedure.
Obtaining political asylum in France
CNDA will review your case and analyze the reasons for OFPRA's denial
If it turns out that the case is more complicated than it seems, the applicant may also revert to the classical procedure at the discretion of the OFPRA. We had a client with dual citizenship, one citizenship of a safe country and the other not. His case required a more in-depth study, so it was decided to transfer his consideration to the classical procedure. Technically, an expedited procedure could be seen as a penalty. The consequences are primarily felt at the CNDA level when the OFPRA has denied an asylum seeker and the asylum seeker is filing an appeal with the CNDA. Unlike a traditional asylum seeker, who would have more time to write a defense and collect evidence, in this case you will have about two weeks and your CNDA case will be heard in an expedited manner by only one judge (juge unique) without assessors. According to a 2018 OFPRA report, last year 24 asylum applications under the accelerated procedure were transferred to the regular classical procedure.
The court will ask for additional documents or information according to your story. In the CNDA, both the asylum seeker and the lawyer are given the opportunity to prove that the OFPRA made the wrong decision. First, the rapporteur reads your case, and then the judge and assessors take turns asking additional questions to the asylum seeker. After that, the lawyer shares his thoughts. During the hearing, you need to be especially vigilant, accurate and confident in your answers, as the chairman of the hearing will ask specific questions that may not be connected chronologically. If you haven't had time to learn French yet and you don't speak French well enough, you will be provided with an interpreter free of charge. The French state will also pay for the lawyer's fees (aide juridictionnelle). In the CNDA, an asylum seeker is assisted by a free lawyer in 60% of cases. Of course, it is better to hire a paid lawyer, because state lawyers face such a problem as lack of time. Often they simply do not have the opportunity to meet with asylum seekers until the very meeting. In addition, there is always a risk that the lawyer does not fully know your situation, the reason for OFPRA's refusal, or is not an expert on your topic at all.
Different types of asylum procedures - classical or accelerated? The OFPRA is responsible for examining asylum applications under both the regular (classic) and accelerated procedures. In both cases, the petition itself is theoretically treated in the same way. There is a big difference in terms of consideration of applications. OFPRA makes a decision within 2 weeks in the case of an expedited procedure, instead of 6 months in the case of a classic procedure. Persons who arrived from a country included in the list of so-called. "safe countries" are placed under the fast track procedure. The same procedure applies to persons who request a review of their case after a refusal decision, those who provided false documents, as well as those who refused to be fingerprinted. It may happen that OFPRA decides to cancel the accelerated procedure, for example, for members of the same family. For example, among our clients there were two sisters, one of whom underwent a classic procedure, and the other an accelerated one. Ultimately, the cases of both sisters were considered under the classical procedure.
The procedure for obtaining political asylum
To make it easier to understand the asylum procedure in France, take a look at this diagram. We hope it helps you understand the main points.
Do you feel a bit overwhelmed by such a large flow of information?
PADA are platforms for asylum seekers. Each department has at least one such platform. Some of them sometimes have several offices in each department. They are responsible for receiving newly arrived migrants and help arrange the first meeting in the prefecture.
OFII (French Office of Immigration and Integration)
The OFII will ask you to answer a list of questions to determine if you need special admissions. The role of this department is both to ensure the conditions for the reception of migrants during the consideration of their asylum application, and to integrate persons who have already received protection (in particular, by signing a republican integration contract, which opens the right to 200 hours of French lessons for migrants). OFII is in close cooperation with OFPRA.
OFPRA (French Office of Immigration and Integration)
This public institution is especially important for the asylum seeker as it makes the decisions in the process of examining your application. This is where you will send all the documents related to your case. First, you will need to describe your personal situation on several pages, while remaining as accurate and concise as possible. You do not need to tell everything, you need to be able to highlight in your story only the most important facts that you can document.
To do this, you can use the links to the press or video materials. But do not forget that they should be used as documentary evidence of the situation you experienced, and not the general situation in the country. Applicants are then interviewed individually by an officer of protection (officier de protection) who will review your case. You will need to carefully prepare for the interview, as a refugee officer will ask you specific questions, often of a personal nature. During the interview, you should not be nervous or overly nervous, this may be misinterpreted by an OFPRA employee.
It should be noted that many asylum seekers have quite good memories of interacting with OFPRA employees. You must clearly know your history, avoid contradictions between your written story and answers to questions from a management officer. It should be noted that many asylum seekers have quite good memories of interacting with OFPRA employees. You must clearly know your history, avoid contradictions between your written story and answers to questions from a management officer.
If you do not speak French, you will be provided with the assistance of an interpreter. The OFPRA institution itself is located in Fontenoy-sous-Bois (in the suburbs of Paris). All asylum seekers in France pass through it, wherever they live in Marseille, Nantes, Strasbourg or in any other city in France.
CNDA (Refugee Court of Appeal)
There is a possibility that you will be denied OFPRA management. In this case, you will have the opportunity to apply to the National Asylum Court (CNDA) and appeal against the OFPRA decision. Below you will find a rough outline of the CNDA Hearing Participants to give you a general idea of how your hearing will work.
Filing an application
Appeal to the primary admission structure (SPADA) at the place of stay to receive a referral to the Prefecture, 3-10 days from the date of application.
Reception at the Prefecture
The prefecture will take fingerprints, determine the type of procedure (regular, fast track, Dublin), issue a refugee certificate and an OFPRA form, and forward to OFII for social assistance.
Applying to OFPRA
Within 21 days after admission to the Prefecture. You must submit a completed form and attach supporting documents.
OFPRA staff will conduct interviews and analyze all submissions. You may be accompanied by an interpreter and/or a lawyer.
In case of a positive decision, civil status documents are issued. The refusal can be challenged with the CNDA.
Appeal to CNDA
OFPRA's decision can be appealed within 1 month. The CNDA may reverse the OFPRA decision or confirm the denial.
It is quite obvious that the requirements for the procedure for obtaining refugee status are very high and there are many nuances in it, ignorance of which can cause irreparable damage to an asylum seeker. Language, legal, legislative and many other barriers are often a deterrent and sometimes stop applicants halfway to the goal. To prevent such a situation, you need to seek help from specialists and experts who will advise you on any issue related to the granting of political asylum at each stage of obtaining it.
Contact us, and we will be able to clarify the situation you do not understand and we will become your assistant when interacting with all of the above administrative structures.
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Core Values of French Society and the Republic Each year, France welcomes more than 100,000 non-European Union foreigners from all regions of the world who seek permanent residence in France. France is a multi-million nation with a rich history and culture. The name of the country is synonymous with the fundamental values to which the French are committed. Similar values exist in all countries and allow people to live together within the same society: some of the values are universal and common to all mankind, others relate only to the culture of one country, being the result of the history that a particular territory has lived. They are so important that, when applied to people of different backgrounds, they unite them around common rules. These values are expressed in the motto of the French Republic: liberty, equality, fraternity.Read completely