Access to the labour market



Forum Réfugiés - Cosi

Access to the labour market is allowed only if OFPRA has not ruled on the asylum application within 9 months after the registration of the application and only if this delay cannot be attributed to the applicant.1 In this case, the asylum seeker is subject to the rules of law applicable to third-country national workers for the issuance of a temporary work permit.2

In reality, asylum seekers have very limited access to the labour market, due to a number of constraints. Prior to being able to work, the applicant must have sought and obtained a temporary work permit. To obtain this work permit, the asylum seeker has to provide proof of a job offer or an employment contract.  The duration of the work permit cannot exceed the duration of the residence permit linked to the asylum application. It may possibly be renewed.

The competent unit for these matters is the Regional Direction for companies, competition, consumption, work and employment (DIRECCTE) at the Ministry of Labour. In any case, the employment situation also puts constraints on this right. In accordance with Article R.5221-20 of the Labour Code (Ctrav), the Prefect may take into account some elements of assessment such as “the current and future employment situation in the profession required by the foreign worker and the geographical area where he or she intends to exercise this profession”, to grant or deny a work permit. In France, since a decree from January 2008, 30 fields of work are experiencing recruitment difficulties which justifies allowing third country nationals to work in these without imposing restrictions. These professions are listed by region – only 6 professions are common to the whole country.3

Finally, asylum seekers have a lot of difficulties in accessing vocational training schemes as these are also subject to the issuance of a work permit. According to the law,4 this permit is delivered to unaccompanied children, and the employment situation does not put any constraints if they meet some criteria, except when they are in asylum procedure due to limitations applied to all asylum seekers.5

  • They have been taken care of by the Childcare Protection Services before turning 16 and want to have access to a professional training;6

  • They have been taken care of by the Childcare Protection Services between the age of 16 and 18 and meet the criteria to be issued a residence permit including a work permit.7

This means that it is more difficult to obtain a permit for a child who is an asylum seeker. That is why some children do not want to ask for asylum.

  • 1. Article L.744-11 Ceseda.
  • 2. Article R.742-2 Ceseda.
  • 3. Ministerial Order of 18 January 2008 on the issuance of work permits to third-country national workers, NOR IMID0800328A, available in French at:
  • 4. Article L.5221-5 Ctrav.
  • 5. They do not have the right to work except if the length of the procedure is more than 9 months.
  • 6. Circular NOR: JUSF1602101C of 26 January 2016, available in French at:
  • 7. Ibid.

About AIDA

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a database managed by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), containing information on asylum procedures, reception conditions, detenti