The reform of the law on asylum has profoundly modified the reception scheme in France by fully transposing the recast Reception Conditions Directive.
The main elements of the current national reception scheme are as follows:1
- All asylum seekers shall be offered material reception conditions (Article L.744-1)
This provision applies to all asylum seekers even if their claim is channelled under the accelerated or Dublin procedure. The only exception is that asylum seekers under the Dublin procedure do not have access to reception centres for asylum seekers (CADA).
- A national reception scheme is established (Article L.744-2)
The national reception scheme is managed by the French Office on Immigration and Integration (OFII). This scheme ensures the distribution of accommodation places for asylum seekers throughout the national territory. In parallel and in compliance with the national reception scheme, regional schemes are defined and implemented by Prefects in each region.
- A specific needs assessment is included in the reception scheme (Article L.744-6)
The aim of this needs assessment is to strengthen the identification of vulnerable asylum seekers and to facilitate the assessment of specific reception needs. An individual interview is conducted by OFII with the asylum seeker within a “reasonable period of time”.
- One single allowance: the allowance for asylum seekers (ADA) (Article L.744-9)
The ADA replaces the temporary waiting allowance (ATA) and the monthly subsistence allowance (AMS). All asylum seekers, even if they are under the accelerated or Dublin procedure, can benefit from this allowance.
After having registered their claim at the Prefecture, asylum seekers receive the asylum claim certification that allows them to remain legally on the French territory until the end of the asylum procedure or their transfer to another Member State. Meanwhile, they are entitled to material reception conditions, adapted if needed to their specific needs. In order to better articulate the registration of asylum claims and provision of reception conditions, the reform of the law on asylum has designed a new framework: a “single desk” (guichet unique).
The idea behind the single desk is to gather the Prefecture and OFII in the same place and to process the registration of the claim at the same time as the provision of material reception conditions. The system of the single desk is to be entirely computerised to ensure swift processing of claims and distribution of places of accommodation.
The Prefecture shall fingerprint all asylum seekers above 14 years old and provide relevant documentation and information to all, in a language they understand or it is likely to assume they understand. After asylum claims have been registered and the asylum claim certification provided, asylum seekers shall move on to OFII desks for the vulnerability and special needs assessment interview. Then, accommodation shall be proposed to the asylum seeker.
Asylum seekers’ financial participation to accommodation
Accommodation fees in dedicated accommodation places for asylum seekers are assumed by the State.
However, accommodated asylum seekers whose monthly resources are above the monthly rate of the Active Solidarity Income (“Revenu de Solidarité Active”) (RSA) (€535.17 for a single adult) pay a financial contribution for their accommodation.
In addition, organisations managing reception facilities are entitled to require a deposit for the accommodation provided under certain conditions. The deposit is refunded, totally or partially, to the seeker when he or she leaves the reception facility. A Decree of 15 November 2016 states the deposit will not be paid back if the asylum seekers stay longer than allowed in accommodation centres, that is 1 month if their claim is rejected and 3 months if protection is granted.2
Finally, French legislation excludes asylum seekers from the granting of all family-related welfare benefits as the residence permits provided to asylum seekers are not listed in the permits that give eligibility to these benefits.3 Asylum seekers are also not eligible for receiving the social welfare allowance, the so-called Active Solidarity Income (RSA), an allowance granted to individuals over 25 years old who do not have resources or have very low incomes.