|Name in English||Number of staff||Ministry responsible||Is there any political interference possible by the responsible Minister with the decision making in individual cases by the determining authority?|
|French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA)||1,003||Ministry of Interior||
OFPRA is a specialised authority responsible for examining applications for international protection and competent to take decisions at first instance. It is an administrative body falling under the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior and its institutional independence is explicitly laid down in law, which means that it does not take instructions from the Ministry of Interior. In 2022, the budget of OFPRA was set at € 93.2 million and the Office included 1,003 staff members at the end of the year. The OFPRA website states that there are approx. 450 protection officers in charge of the examination of asylum applications. The budget law for 2023 provide for a budget of €103.4 million (1,011 staff members).
As regards its internal structure, OFPRA has different units dealing with different procedures as well as different asylum applicants. This includes a unit entitled “asylum at the border”, which is responsible exclusively for claims lodged in waiting zones and detention centres. OFPRA also has five thematic groups (“groupes de référents thématiques”) each dealing with vulnerable applicants, as will be explained further below. Another administrative arrangement visible in OFPRA relates to the units which are organised according to geographical criteria.
Quality control and assurance
Following a 2013 action plan for the reform of OFPRA, an internal mechanism monitoring the quality of the decisions was put in place. It consists of an assessment of several sample cases. In addition, a “harmonisation committee”, chaired by the Executive Director, was created to harmonise the doctrine. Its tasks include monitoring the jurisprudence of the CNDA.
An agreement was signed in 2013 between OFPRA’s Director General and the UNHCR Representative in France establishing a quality control mechanism and an evaluation grid with criteria regarding the three main stages of the examination of asylum cases: interview, investigation and decision. The objective is to consider useful measures to improve the quality of the decisions.
In this context, three evaluations were carried out by OFPRA and UNHCR in 2013, 2015 and 2017, based on representative samples of asylum decisions taken in 2013, 2014 and the first half of 2016 respectively. The results of the monitoring are available online. Since then, there is no information as to whether another evaluation has been or will be conducted.
The latest report published in November 2018 contained mostly positive conclusions concerning interviews and decision-making at OFPRA. However, it also highlighted important shortcomings.
Taking into account the results of these quality controls, regular trainings are provided to caseworkers, in particular regarding the interview, the assessment of proof and supportive documents and the reasoning of decisions taken. Trainings are provided in-house by OFPRA as well as a by the EUAA.
Role of the Council of State in status determination
When the administration (OFPRA) rejects an asylum claim, a protection can be attributed in appeal by National court on asylum right (Cour nationale du droit d’asile – CNDA) which proceed to a new examination of the merits on the situation. If asylum claim is also rejected by CNDA, the applicant can refer the matter to the Council of State. However, this jurisdiction examines only if procedural guarantees and legal framework has been respected but it does not go back over the facts taken into account by CNDA. They can decide to send the case back to the CNDA or attribute himself a protection status.
However, outside of asylum proceedings and especially in expulsion proceedings when examining refoulement, the Council of State considers it may pronounce someone is a refugee or a beneficiary of subsidiary protection, although this does officially grant the status and rights attached, nor is it binding before the actual asylum authorities.
 Article L. 121-7 Ceseda.
 OFPRA, Contrôle qualité: premier exercice d’évaluation, September 2014; Contrôle qualité: deuxième exercice d’évaluation, May 2016,; Contrôle qualité: troisième exercice d’évaluation, November 2018 (no longr online as of March 2023).
 Council of State, 9 November 1966, No. 58903, available in French at: https://bit.ly/426fC8T; Council of State, 30 December 2011, No. 347624, available in French at: https://bit.ly/3nv29sq; Council of State, 30 January 2017, No. 394173, available in French at: https://bit.ly/3NEMe5j.