Residence permits are granted to refugees for 10 years (“Carte de resident”).1 That permit is also granted ipso jure to their family, in particular to:
Spouses, partners (PACS) or their domestic partners if they have been admitted to join them according to the family reunification provisions;
Spouses, partners (PACS) or their domestic partners in case their union has been sealed after the asylum application and under the condition it has been lasting for already over a year, and if they are genuinely living together;
Children within the year after turning 18 years old;
Parents if the refugees are still under 18 years old by the day the asylum is granted.2
Some difficulties have been identified in practice regarding this provision. Young girls are regularly granted asylum on the grounds of the Refugee Convention, considering the risk of being exposed to female genital mutilation (FGM). In 2016, a total 5,205 girls received protection on these grounds (see Special Procedural Guarantees). Their mothers or fathers accompanying them often have their asylum application dismissed, since it is stated that opposing FGM does not expose them to a risk of persecution. In that case, they should nevertheless be delivered a 10-year residence permit according to the abovementioned provision. However, in practice, in many regions of France, such as in Auvergne Rhône-Alpes, Paris and its surroundings and Hauts de France (North), several cases have been reported of Prefectures delivering only one-year permits to the parents of underage refugees.
Residence permits delivered to subsidiary protection beneficiaries are granted for one year (Carte de séjour temporaire “Vie privée et familiale”).3 The same residence permits are granted to their family on the basis of the same pattern than the one used for refugees.4 After the first year, the permits can be renewed for 2 years. Indeed, it is possible for the renewal to be denied if the situation in the country of origin has changed. However, refusal is mostly theoretical since it would require a constant reassessment of the individual cases when the protection beneficiaries request the renewal of their residence permits. In practice, the French administration rarely operates such an assessment; only 6 cases have been reported in 2014,5 and 7 in 2015.6
Refugees may encounter difficulties to get their residence permits issued or renewed. Their residence permits have to be issued the next 3 months following their request for such documentation. The same goes for the subsidiary protection beneficiaries.7 OFPRA may take longer than expected to deliver the necessary documentation that has to be submitted for the issuance of their permits. There have been cases of refugees waiting for more than a year before getting their documentation issued by OFPRA, sometimes because of a mere typo in their names. That mistake can prevent refugees from getting their identity documents transcribed. It is then mandatory for them to get this mistake corrected otherwise the transcription will not be possible. It can take type correct typos and it often depends on the due care of the protection officers.
In practice, the main difficulties are encountered by beneficiaries of subsidiary protection. In administrative terms, OFPRA used to grant two types of subsidiary protection: type 1 and type 2. The type 1 subsidiary protection implies that the issuance of the personal documentation of the beneficiaries is made by OFPRA, because it is assumed that the beneficiaries cannot request such documentation from their embassy. This is obviously the case of people fleeing persecutions where the perpetrators are State agents or because they come from a failed State. Type 2 is applied to beneficiaries able to get their documentation issued by their country of origin because the perpetrators are independent or private groups, or because the persecutions those groups are responsible for are tolerated by the authorities.
In type 2 cases, it may occur that beneficiaries mistrust their authorities, whether they are responsible for the persecution they have fled or not. Yet the issuance of the residence permits without any identity documentation is not possible. Some beneficiaries are not in a position then to have their residence permits issued. OFPRA has discussed this point, through meetings with the main stakeholders, by announcing it would put an end to this practice soon, in order to overcome the gap between the two types of protection among the subsidiary protection beneficiaries. OFPRA will thereon deliver the necessary documentation to all subsidiary protection beneficiaries.