Regular procedure

France

Country Report: Regular procedure Last updated: 30/11/20

Author

Forum Réfugiés – Cosi Visit Website

General (scope, time limits)

The determining authority in France, OFPRA, is a specialised institution in the field of asylum, under the administrative supervision of the Ministry of Interior since November 2007 (see Number of staff and nature of the determining authority). A time limit of 6 months is set for OFPRA to take a decision under the regular procedure.[1] When a decision cannot be taken within 6 months, OFPRA has to inform the applicant thereof within 15 calendar days prior to the expiration of that period.[2] An additional 9-month period for OFPRA to take a decision starts and, under exceptional circumstances, it can even be extended for 3 more months.[3] Nevertheless, the law provides no consequences to non-compliance with these time limits.

In 2017, the French Presidency set a target processing time of 2 months for asylum applications examined by OFPRA.[4] However, the average first-instance processing time for all procedures was 161 days in 2019,[5] up from 150 in 2018 and thus reflecting a consistent increase in the length of the procedure.

An action plan for the reform of OFPRA, adopted on 22 May 2013, has been implemented since September 2013. It includes a monitoring mechanism of the quality of the decisions taken through an assessment of several sample cases. In addition, a “harmonisation committee”, chaired by the Executive Director, was created to harmonise the doctrine, including monitoring the jurisprudence of the CNDA.[6]

An agreement was signed in 2013 between the OFPRA’s Director General and the UNHCR Representative in France establishing quality controls and an evaluation grid with criteria on three main stages of the examination of asylum cases: interview, investigation and decision. The objective is to envisage useful measures for the improvement of 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 and 2014 and the first half of 2016 respectively. The results of the monitoring are available online.[7] At the time of writing (March 2020), there was no information on whether another evaluation would be conducted in 2020.

The latest report published in November 2018 contained mostly positive conclusions concerning interviews and decision-making at OFPRA. It confirmed diminishing disparities between OFPRA and UNHCR examiners’ positions. As mentioned in the previous quality control reports, no major difference was noticed in OFPRA’s treatment of asylum applications under the accelerated procedure and under the regular procedure.

However, important shortcomings were highlighted. In 12% of the case files under review, it was deemed that the interview report was difficult to read. Moreover, it was found that for as high as 13% of the cases, the way interviews were conducted showed that no complementary questions were asked by OFPRA when the statements of the asylum seeker were considered to be insufficiently consistent or credible. Also, in more than 30% of the cases, no question is mentioned in the interview report about the circumstances under which the asylum seeker had written his or her asylum narrative. In 12% of the cases reviewed, no mention was found in the interview report ensuring that the correct understanding of the interpreter by the asylum seeker had been checked. In about 10% of the cases reviewed, the examiners expressed a disagreement as to the relevance of the decision taken. In more than 20% of the cases reviewed, the legal reasoning applied was found to be insufficiently thorough. A lack of assessment of the probative value of the relevant documents of the case was also highlighted.

Taking into account the results of these quality controls, regular trainings are being 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 EASO.[8]

 

Prioritised examination and fast-track processing

 

The law provides for the possibility for OFPRA to give priority to applications introduced by vulnerable persons having identified “specific needs in terms of reception conditions” or “specific procedural needs”.[9] No information is available on the use of this provision in recent years.

Since 2013, OFPRA also conducts decentralised and external missions in order to accelerate the examination of claims from seekers with specific nationalities or having specific needs. This means that interviews are being held in certain cities, instead of being held on the premises of OFPRA in the Paris region. This has resulted in 42 decentralised missions in 2019 (compared to 23 in 2018) which were conducted in Metz, Lyon, Rennes, Toulouse, Montpellier, Strasbourg and Nantes and overseas departments (12).[10]

OFPRA also conducted missions abroad. This included 15 missions in cooperation with UNHCR to resettle refugees from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Chad and Niger as well as 16 missions in Europe following search and rescue operations in Italy and Malta as well as missions to support the asylum system in Greece.[11]

The 2018 reform has introduced the possibility for OFPRA to carry out resettlement missions in the law.[12]

 

Personal interview

 

The Ceseda provides for systematic personal interviews of applicants. There are two legal grounds for omitting a personal interview:[13]

  1. OFPRA is about to take a positive decision on the basis of the evidence at its disposal; or
  2. Medical reasons prohibit the conduct of the interview.

In practice, OFPRA rarely omits interviews. In 2018, 90,1% of asylum seekers were summoned for an interview, compared to 97,1% in 2017, 94.1% in 2016 and 95.4% in 2015. The rate of interviews actually taking place was 77.6% in 2017, compared to 72.4% in 2016 and 76% in 2015.[14] Statistics on the number of interviews in 2019 were not available at the time of writing (March 2020.

All personal interviews are conducted by protection officers from OFPRA. Asylum seekers are interviewed individually without their family members. A minor child can also be interviewed alone if OFPRA has serious reasons to believe that he or she might have endured persecutions unknown to other family members.[15] After a primary interview, OFPRA can nevertheless conduct a complementary one and hear several members of a family at the same time if it is necessary for assessing the risks of persecution.[16]

Videoconferencing

As a rule, interviews are conducted in the premises of OFPRA in Fontenay-sous-Bois, east of Paris. Interviews can be conducted through video conferencing in 3 cases:[17]

  1. The asylum seeker cannot physically come to OFPRA for medical or family reasons;
  2. The asylum seeker is held in an administrative detention centre; or
  3. The asylum seeker is overseas.

An OFPRA Decision of 14 December 2018 has established the list of approved premises intended to receive asylum seekers, applicants for stateless status, refugees or beneficiaries of subsidiary protection heard in a professional interview conducted by OFPRA by an audio-visual communication procedure.[18] This includes several administrative detention centres, as well as waiting zones (see Border Procedure). La Cimade noted in a 2018 report that videoconferencing has negative effects on the quality of interview in detention. This was mainly due to material problems, communication difficulties as well as interpretation issues.[19]

In 2018, 2.2% of all interviews were conducted through video conferencing, compared to 3.1% in 2017 and 4,2% in 2016.

Accompaniment by a third party

Asylum seekers have the possibility to be accompanied by a third person, either a lawyer or a representative of an accredited NGO.[20] In a Decision of 30 July 2015, OFPRA’s Director-General has detailed the conditions for the organisation of the interview. The third person has to inform OFPRA, to the extent possible, 7 days prior to the interview in the regular procedure and 4 days in the accelerated procedure of his or her intention to accompany an asylum seeker to the interview. The absence of a third person does not prevent OFPRA from conducting the interview. The third person is not allowed to intervene or to exchange information with the asylum seeker or the interpreter during the interview, but he or she can formulate remarks and observations at the end of the interview. These observations are translated if necessary and written down in the interview report. The interview is also fully recorded.[21]

The asylum seeker or the third person can ask to read the interview report before a decision is taken on the case. At the end of the interview, the asylum seeker and the third person who accompanies him or her are informed of their right to have access to the copy of the interview. The latter is either immediately given to the asylum seeker or it is sent before a decision is taken.[22] However, neither the law nor the OFPRA Decision of 30 July 2015 allow for the possibility of providing further comments before the decision is taken.

According to an OFPRA Decision of 10 December 2018, 30 organisations are authorised to accompany asylum seekers in interviews.[23] These organisations are frequently requested to accompany asylum seekers, most of the time from applicants not accommodated in the centres they run. However, the lack of specific funding dedicated to this mission renders such assistance difficult in practice. Only 1.9% of asylum seekers interviewed in 2018 were accompanied by a third party, compared to 1,8% in 2017).[24] Figures for the year 2019 were not available at the time of writing.

Interpretation

The presence of an interpreter during the personal interview is provided if the request has been made in the application form. Following the 2018 asylum reform, the language declared by the asylum seeker upon registration at the GUDA is binding for the entire procedure and can only be challenged at the appeal stage.[25]

Failure by OFPRA to provide interpretation may affect the validity of the first instance decision. The Council of State ruled in 2018 that where the asylum seeker has been unable to communicate and to be understood during the interview, due to the absence of an interpreter for his or her language or a language he or she sufficiently comprehends, and the deficiency is imputable to OFPRA, the asylum decision shall be annulled by CNDA.[26]

OFPRA interviews can be conducted in 117 languages.[27] Interpreters are not OFPRA staff but are recruited as service providers through public procurement contracts.

The law provides for a choice of interpreter ​​according to gender considerations, in particular if the asylum seeker has been subjected to sexual violence.[28] This provision also applies to protection officers.

In 2018, 92% of interviews were held in the presence of an interpreter, compared to 93% in 2017.[29]

According to some stakeholders, the quality of interpretation can vary significantly. Some asylum seekers have reported that translations are too simplified (e.g. approximate translations or not in line with their answers) or carried out with inappropriate behaviour (e.g. inattentive interpreters or interpreters taking the liberty to make personal reflections or laughing with the protection officer). Moreover, OFPRA’s protection officers may sometimes act as interpreters themselves, which can have a diverse impact. Some asylum seekers report difficulties to open up to a person who speaks the language of the country involved in the alleged persecution. Nevertheless, some advantages have also been reported, such as demonstrating a particular interest for the region of origin.

OFPRA published a Code of Conduct for interpreters in November 2018.[30] It has also conducted trainings for interpreters, specifically concerning certain vulnerabilities of asylum seekers. There is no information yet on whether the Code of conduct is being well applied in practice, however.

Recording and report

An audio recording of the interview is also made. It cannot be listened to before a negative decision has been issued by OFPRA, in view of an appeal of the decision.[31] In case a technical issue prevents the audio recording from being put in place, additional comments can be added to the registration of the interview. If the asylum seeker refuses to confirm that the content of the interview registered is in compliance with what has effectively been said during the interview, the grounds for his or her refusal are written down. However, it cannot prevent OFPRA to issue a decision on his or her claim.[32] The absence of an audio recording due to technical reasons does not in itself affect the validity of OFPRA’s decision, as it does not constitute an essential procedural guarantee according to the CNDA.[33]

Access to the audio recording is quite difficult for asylum seekers. Indeed, before OFPRA issues its decision, the recording can only be listened to in OFPRA offices, in Fontenay-sous-Bois. This makes it impossible for asylum seekers accommodated outside Paris and its surroundings to get access to recordings. At CNDA stage, the audio recording can be obtained by asylum seekers’ lawyers (although this is not mandatory) and transmitted to them by OFPRA if an appeal has not been lodged yet, or by the CNDA if an appeal has been lodged). Even if most of lawyers pleading to the Court are based in Paris and its surroundings, it is much easier for asylum seekers to get access to the audio recording through them. The audio recording can be relied upon to substantiate the appeal.

A transcription of the interview is made by the protection officer in charge. The report is not a verbatim transcript of the interview as in practice the protection officer takes notes him or herself at the same time as he or she conducts the interview. The report is a summary of the questions asked by the protection officer, the answers provided by the asylum seeker and, since the adoption of the reform of the law on asylum, the observations formulated by the third person, if applicable. It also mentions the duration of the interview, the presence (or not) of the interpreter and the conditions in which the asylum seeker wrote his or her application. The report is sent to the asylum seeker together with any notification of a negative decision; in the regular procedure it can be sent before the notification, if the applicant so requests. The section on the opinion of the protection officer is included in the document received by the asylum seeker. The report is written in French and is not translated for the applicant. In practice, the quality of the interview report can vary, as highlighted in the OFPRA and UNHCR quality control reports (see Regular Procedure: General).

The interview report and the draft decision written by the protection officer are then submitted for the validation of the section manager. Since September 2013, a procedure of transfer of signature has been set up in order to accelerate the processing delays.

 

Appeal

 

Appeal before the National Court of Asylum (CNDA)

Following the rejection of their asylum application by the Director General of OFPRA, the applicant may challenge the decision to the National Court of Asylum (CNDA). The CNDA is an administrative court specialised in asylum. The CNDA is divided into 22 chambers. These chambers are divided into formations of courts each of them made up of 3 members:[34] a President (member of the Council of State, of an administrative court or appellate court, the Revenue Court or magistrate from the judiciary, in activity or honorary)[35] and 2 designated assessors, including one appointed by UNHCR. The presence of a judge appointed by UNHCR at the CNDA is a unique feature of the French asylum system.

The CNDA is competent for appeals against decisions granting or refusing refugee status or subsidiary protection, against decisions withdrawing refugee status or subsidiary protection and against decisions refusing subsequent applications. The CNDA may also hear “upgrade appeals” from applicants who have been granted subsidiary protection by OFPRA but who want to be recognised as refugees. In this case, the CNDA can grant the refugee status. If not, the benefit of subsidiary protection remains valid.

The appeal must be filed by registered mail within 1 month from the notification of the negative decision by OFPRA. For asylum applications lodged in French overseas departments,[36] asylum seekers have 2 months to appeal the OFPRA decision.[37]

There is a specific form to submit this appeal:[38]

  1. It has to be written in French:
  2. It must contain the name, last name, nationality, date of birth and administrative address of the claimant;
  3. It must be founded in law and facts;
  4. The certification of asylum claim and the OFPRA decision must be attached;
  5. It has to be signed by the claimant or his or her attorney;
  6. It has to specify in which language in which the claimant wishes to be heard; and
  7. In case the claim has been channelled to an accelerated procedure, the notice of information delivered by the Prefecture stating the reason for this must be attached.

This appeal has automatic suspensive effect for all asylum seekers in the regular procedure. The appeal is assessed on points of law and facts. Documents and evidence supporting the claim have to be translated into French to be considered by the CNDA. Identity papers, judicial and police documents must be translated by an officially certified translator. The clerk informs OFPRA of the existence of an appeal against its decision and asks for the case file to be transferred within 15 calendar days.

The CNDA sends a receipt of registration to the applicant which notifies the applicant of his or her right to consult his or her file, the right to be assisted by a lawyer, the fact that the information concerning his or her application is subject to automated processing, of the possibility that his or her appeal will be processed “by order” (ordonnance) namely by a single judge without a hearing. In case the appeal has been lodged after the deadline, and in case of dismissal (non-lieu) or withdrawal of the applicant, the president of the CNDA or the president of one of the sections can dismiss the appeal by order. If the appeal does not contain any serious elements enabling a questioning of the OFPRA decision, it can also be dismissed “by order” (“ordonnance”) but after a preliminary assessment of the case.[39]

In 2019, the CNDA registered 59,091 appeals and took 66,466 decisions, compared to 58,671 appeals and 47,314 decisions in 2018. [40] An important increase of decisions is due to the fact that strike actions had stopped activity of the court during several weeks in 2018.

The appeal is processed by a Court panel in the regular procedure, while in the Admissibility Procedure and Accelerated Procedure only one single judge – either the President of the CNDA or the President of the section – rules on the appeal. In 2019, the CNDA took 31,102 decisions in collegial function, up from 20,771 collegial decisions in 2018. During that year, it further took 35,362 single-judge decisions following a hearing or by order, compared to 26,543 in 2018.[41]

Processing times

The law sets a time limit for the CNDA to take a decision. The CNDA has to rule within 5 months under the regular procedure.

The average processing time for the CNDA to take a decision increased to 7 months and 5 days in 2019 compared to 6.5 months in 2018, due to a rise in the number of appeals registered and to strikes. For the regular procedure, the average processing time was 9 months and 20 days.[42]

The deadline for closing the inquiry is 5 days minimum before the date set for the hearing in the regular procedure. This means that it is only possible to add further information to the appeal case until 5 days before the hearing.[43] After the hearing, it is nevertheless possible to produce further elements to the Court by submitting a “note en délibéré”. In the regular procedure, 21 days are taken by the Court before delivering its decision. This delay is named “délibéré”, during which the claimant can inform the Court of new elements or modify his or her declarations.

In case of an emergency hearing, taking place no less than 7 days after summons, the inquiry may be closed at the hearing.[44]

Hearing and decision

Unless the appeal is rejected by order (ordonnance), the law provides for a hearing of the asylum seeker. The fact the CNDA may reject cases without hearing them has an effect on the duration of the procedure. If the court makes a decision “by order”, the duration of the procedure will be up to three months faster.

A summons for a hearing has to be communicated to the applicant at least 30 days before the hearing day,[45] at the address indicated to the CNDA.[46] These hearings are public, unless the President of the section decides that it will be held in camera. In most cases, hearings were held in camera following a specific request from the applicant. The hearing in camera is ipso jure (de plein droit) meaning that it is applied upon request of the applicant. The CNDA must specify in its decision whether the hearing is public or held in camera.[47]

Asylum seekers who are not accommodated in reception centres have to organise and pay for their journey themselves, even if they live in distant regions.

The hearing begins by the presentation of the report by the rapporteur. The judges can then interview the applicant. If the applicant is assisted by a lawyer, he or she is invited to make oral submissions, the administrative procedure before the CNDA being mainly written. Following the hearing, the case is placed under deliberation.

Out of the total of 66,464 decisions taken by the CNDA in 2019, 44,171 of them were issued following a hearing, of which 31,102 hearings were held in collegial function and 13,069 in single-judge format.  The remaining 22,293 decisions were taken by order (ordonnance).

The hearing takes place at the CNDA headquarters in Montreuil, near Paris, but the use of videoconferencing for CNDA hearings is allowed. Since 1 January 2019, the CNDA may use videoconferencing even without the consent of the applicant, to ensure “a proper administration of justice”. The interpreter sits in a room together with the asylum seeker; if this is not possible, he or she is present from the side of the Court.[48] Where videoconferencing is used, the CNDA shall prepare two transcripts, one in the seat of the Court and one in the hearing room where the applicant is present.[49]

The CNDA held 223 video hearings in 2019, up from 153 in 2018.[50] In practice, videoconferencing has only been applied to appeals lodged overseas, where it replaced mobile court hearings. It has not been applied to mainland France in 2019, although a recent CNDA decision provides that videoconferencing will be established in the premises of the Administrative Court of Appeal of Lyon and Nancy for all appeals lodged after 1 January 2019.[51] The 2018 reform has been severely criticised in this regard, with practitioners referring to technical deficiencies in the videoconferencing system in Lyon which would prevent quality hearings.[52] This measure has been suspended, and a mediator was appointed to find a solution that would suit both the Court and the lawyers. At the end of 2019, no solution had been found yet and the use of videoconferencing was therefore still suspended.

Decisions of the CNDA are published (posted on the walls of the court building) during a period of 21 days under regular procedure and one week under accelerated one.[53] Negative decisions are transmitted to the Ministry of Interior, i.e. OFPRA and Prefectures.

In cases where it plans to reject the appeal by order due to the absence of serious elements enabling a questioning of the OFPRA decision, the CNDA has the obligation to inform the applicants about their rights to access their file.[54] In practice, however, the applicant is not informed that his or her appeal will be rejected by order; the Court considers that the general information provided upon registration of the appeal, stating that the applicant has the right to access the file,[55] discharges the duty to inform.

Applicants are heard in the language declared upon registration of the asylum application at the GUDA. If an asylum seeker cannot be heard in the language he or she has indicated, he or she is heard in a language he or she can reasonably be expected to understand.[56]

Asylum seekers face several obstacles in challenging a negative OFPRA decision. Although time limits and appeal modalities are translated at the back of the refusal notification, some asylum seekers sometimes do not understand them, in particular those who are not accommodated in reception centres. Applicants are not eligible for support for the preparation of their appeal within the PADA. They can only rely on volunteer assistance from NGOs, whose resources are already overstretched. In addition, reception centres do not officially offer legal assistance regarding the appeal. Their mission is circumscribed to a legal orientation to lawyers and to filling the legal aid request form. In practice, most accommodation centres keep on assisting asylum seekers in writing and challenging their claim to the CNDA.

 

Onward appeal before the Council of State

 

An onward appeal before the Council of State (Conseil d’Etat) is provided by law in case of a negative decision at CNDA level or in case OFPRA decides to appeal against a CNDA decision granting a protection status.[57] This appeal must be lodged within 2 months of notification of the CNDA decision.[58] The Council of State does not review the facts of the case, but only allegations supported by the applicant on points of law such as compliance with rules of procedure and the correct application of the law by the CNDA. If the Council of State annuls the decision, it refers to the CNDA to decide again on the merits of the case, but it may also decide to rule itself on the granting or refusal of protection.

This appeal before the Council of State must be presented by a lawyer registered with the Council of State. If the asylum seeker's income is too low to initiate this action, he or she may request legal aid to the Office of legal aid of the Council of State. In practice, it is very difficult to obtain it.

The Council of State received the following appeals in 2019:

Appeals before the Council of State: 2015-2019

 

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

Total number of appeals

623

847

1,052

836

905

Admitted

22

21

26

24

49

Dismissed

665

767

1,043

812

856

 

Source: CNDA, Activity report, 2019, 13

 

This appeal is not suspensive, the average processing time is around two years and the applicant may be returned to his or her country of origin during this period.

 

Legal assistance

 

Legal assistance at first instance

The modalities and the degree of assistance provided to asylum seekers at first instance depend on the type of reception conditions they enjoy:

  • If the applicant is accommodated in a reception centre (see Types of Accommodation), he or she can be supported in the writing of his or her application form by staff from the reception centres. According to the mission set out in their framework agreement,[59] As regards Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers (Centre d’accueil de demandeurs d’asile, CADA) teams, most of the time, social workers, should also assist the applicant in the preparation of the interview at OFPRA. This consists of administrative rather than legal assistance.

 

  • If the applicant cannot be accommodated in a reception centre, then the “reference framework” for asylum seekers’ “orientation platforms” (PADA)[60] applies,[61] and he or she can obtain some basic information and assistance on the procedure. Some applicants can benefit from support and assistance provided in some emergency reception structures. In this case, asylum seekers are assisted in their paperwork, such as their application for legal aid and their residence permit renewal process. Asylum seekers may also be assisted in the drafting of their asylum application but the preparation for the interview is theoretically excluded.

These assistance services are funded by OFII, by the Ministry of Interior and/or by EU funding under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF). Some local authorities sometimes contribute to this funding.

Access to legal assistance is therefore uneven depending on the type of reception conditions provided. Asylum seekers in the most precarious situations, those without reception conditions are offered much fewer services than those accommodated in CADA. This situation leads to unequal treatment between asylum seekers accommodated in reception centres (a fortiori CADA), who receive support and in-depth assistance, and asylum seekers housed in emergency facilities, who are without direct support and are sometimes located far away from the regional PADA. Furthermore, the limited resources allocated to these platforms greatly limit the services provided.

Legal assistance at the appeal stage

Legal support for the preparation of appeals to the CNDA is not funded within the “reference framework” of the PADA. Therefore, asylum seekers have to rely on legal support from lawyers.

The law foresees the granting of legal aid (“aide juridictionelle”) for lawyers to file an appeal to the CNDA in case of an OFPRA negative decision.[62] Legal costs can therefore, upon certain conditions, be borne by the State.

The right to legal aid is considered as ipso jure (de plein droit). Legal aid before the CNDA is an automatic entitlement and is granted upon request if: (a) the appeal does not appear to be manifestly inadmissible; and (b) the legal aid application is submitted within 15 days after receiving the notification of the negative decision from OFPRA. The 2018 asylum reform has removed the possibility for the asylum seeker to apply for legal aid at any point before the expiry of the one-month deadline to appeal.[63]

Following the reform, the law provides that the legal aid application suspends the deadline to appeal before the CNDA. Time continues to run from the point the applicant or his or her legal representative receives the notification of legal aid from the Legal Aid Office.[64] As a result, the time available to lodge an appeal will vary depending on how early a legal aid application is submitted e.g. if the legal aid application is submitted 2 days after receiving the negative OFPRA decision, the deadline to appeal will be 28 days after the decision of the Legal Aid Office.

The recipients of legal aid have the right to choose their lawyer freely or to have one appointed for them by the Legal Aid Office.[65] The refusal to grant legal aid may be challenged before the President of the CNDA within 8 days. This legal aid for asylum seekers is funded though the State budget for the general legal aid system.

In practice, legal aid is widely granted:

 

Applications for legal aid before the CNDA: 2015-2019

 

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

Total applications

29,181

30,193

42,749

48,620

51,891

Total decisions on applications

28,627

29,324

44,989

46,639

51,888

   Granted

25,933

28,217

43,466

44,985

48,789

   Refused

2,694

1,107

1,523

1,384

3,099

   Acceptance rate

90.6%

96.2%

96.6%

96.4%

94%

 

Source: CNDA, 2019 Activity report, 29

 

Until 2013, lawyers working in the field of asylum were granted lower financial compensation (8 credits, or 256 € per file – excluding taxes) than the fee allocated for ordinary cases before administrative courts. A Decree of 20 June 2013 doubles the unit value (16 credits, or 512 € – excluding taxes) for appeals with a hearing and 4 credits (or 106 €) for appeals without a hearing before the CNDA.[66] Since 2017, the amount of the unit value is 32 € (excluding taxes).[67]   

In any event, the current level of compensation is still deemed insufficient by many asylum stakeholders in France and this prevents lawyers from doing serious and quality work for each case.[68] In particular, it is not enough to cover the cost of an interpreter during the preparation of the case.[69] Lawyers are often court-appointed by the CNDA,[70] and only have the address of their clients and no phone numbers for the parties to effectively get in touch. Moreover, most of these lawyers are based in Paris whereas asylum seekers can be living elsewhere in France. Therefore, they often do not meet their clients until the last moment. These lawyers sometimes refuse to assist asylum seekers in writing their appeal and only represent them in court. This makes it difficult for asylum seekers to properly prepare for the hearing. Asylum seekers who are not accommodated in reception centres are therefore on their own to write their appeal and face a high risk of seeing their appeal rejected by order due to insufficient arguments.


[1]  Article R.723-2 Ceseda.

[2]  Article R 723-3 Ceseda.

[3]  Article R.723-2 Ceseda.

[4]  Le Monde, ‘Le gouvernement fait de la réduction du délai de demande d’asile une des clés du plan migrants’, 12 July 2017, available in French at: https://goo.gl/rz18KD.

[5]  OFPRA, Les premières données de l’asile 2019 à l’OFPRA, 21 January 2020, available in French at: https://bit.ly/38zltHM.

[6]  See a description of  the action plan for the reform of OFPRA, 2014 Activity report, 10 April 2015, 54-55.

[7]  OFPRA, Contrôle qualité: premier exercice d’évaluation, September 2014, available in French at: https://bit.ly/2KhfZZ6; Contrôle qualité: deuxième exercice d’évaluation, May 2016, available in French at: https://bit.ly/2kgUqvO; Contrôle qualité: troisième exercice d’évaluation, November 2018, available in French at: https://bit.ly/2GJPZmD.

[8]  OFPRA, 2018 Activity report, March 2019, available in French at: https://bit.ly/32y7dNR, 72.

[9]  Article L.723-3 Ceseda.

[10]  OFPRA, ‘Les premières données de l’asile 2019 à l’OFPRA, 21 January 2020, available in French at: https://bit.ly/38zltHM.

[11] Ibid.

[12]   Article L.714-1 Ceseda, inserted by Article 7 Law n. 2018-778 of 10 September 2018.

[13]  Article L.723-6 Ceseda.

[14]  OFPRA, 2017 Activity report, April 2018, available in French at: https://goo.gl/ih5jkG, 50.

[15]  Article L.723-6 Ceseda.

[16]  Ibid.

[17]  Article R.723-9 Ceseda.

[18]  OFPRA, Decision NOR: INTV1834807S, 14 December 2018, available in French at: https://goo.gl/Jjxxo1.

[19]  La Cimade, Le droit d’asile en retention – Analyse d’une chimère, June 2018, available in French at: https://bit.ly/2EWkvIs, 29.

[20]  Article L.723-6 Ceseda.

[21]  OFPRA, Decision of 30 July 2015 establishing organisational modalities for the interview according to the implementation of Article L.723-6 of the Ceseda.

[22]  Article R.723-7 Ceseda.

[23]  OFPRA, Decision NOR: INTV1833858S of 10 December 2018 establishing the list of organisations competent for proposing representatives to accompany asylum seekers or refugees or beneficiaries of subsidiary protection to a personal interview held by OFPRA. The list may be found at: https://goo.gl/SzYNEd.

[24]  OFPRA, 2017 Activity report, 51.

[25]  Article L741-2-1 Ceseda, inserted by Article 10 Law n. 2018-778 of 10 September 2018.

[26]  Council of State, Decision No 412514, 11 April 2018, EDAL, available at: https://bit.ly/2NiyFrb.

[27]  OFPRA, Decision NOR: INTV1836064S of 28 December 2018 establishing the list of languages in which asylum seekers, applicants for stateless status, refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection can be heard in the context of a personal interview, available in French at: https://goo.gl/S8bgaX.

[28]  Article L.723-6 Ceseda.

[29] OFPRA, 2017 Activity report, 80.

[30]  OFPRA, Charte de l’interprétariat, November 2018, available in French at: https://goo.gl/vSEYFT.

[31]  Article L.723-7 Ceseda.

[32]  Article R.723-8 Ceseda.

[33]  CNDA, Mme N., Decision No 16040286, 29 October 2018, available in French at: https://bit.ly/2GVpI5O.

[34]  A plenary session (Grande formation) is organised to adjudicate important cases. Under these circumstances, there are 9 judges: the 3 judges from the section which heard the case initially and 2 professional judges, 2 representatives of the Council of State and 2 assessors from UNHCR.

[35]  10 judges acting as presidents are now working full time at the CNDA, in addition to part time judges on temporary contracts.

[36]  Guadeloupe, Guiana, Martinique, Réunion, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint-Martin, Mayotte, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, French Polynesia, the Wallis and Futuna Islands, New Caledonia and the French Antarctic Lands.

[37]  Article L.733-7 Ceseda.

[38] Article R.733-5 Ceseda.

[39]  The Council of State has ruled that when the CNDA takes an order, the absence of UNHCR does not contravene the 1951 Geneva Convention (in particular Article 35) or the Asylum Procedures Directive: Council of State, Decision 366578, 9 July 2014, available in French at: http://bit.ly/1CfPye8.

[40]  Ministry of Interior, Chiffres clésLes demandes d’asile, available in French at: https://bit.ly/2TRCMzB.

[41]  CNDA, 2019 Activity report, available at: https://bit.ly/3837qKR, 13.

[42]  CNDA, 2018 Activity report, 41.

[43]  Article R.733-13 Ceseda.

[44]   Article R.733-19 Ceseda, as amended by Article 14 Decree n. 2018-1159 of 14 December 2018.

[45]  Article R.733-19 Ceseda. In case of “emergency” however, the period between the summons and the hearing can be reduced to 7 days.

[46]  Council of State, Decision No 414389, 7 June 2018, available in French at: https://bit.ly/2GABhQx.

[47]  Council of State, Decision No 418631, 7 December 2018, available in French at: https://bit.ly/2VeC4Kt.

[48]  Article L.733-1 Ceseda, as amended by Article 8 Law n. 2018-778 of 10 September 2018. This was also confirmed in CNDA, M. N., Decision No 14024686, 12 September 2018, available in French at: https://bit.ly/2BVTxjF.

[49]  Council of State, Decision No 408353, 7 March 2018, available in French at: https://bit.ly/2NgixpW.

[50]  CNDA, 2018 Activity report, 20.

[51]  CNDA, Decision 2018.12.DK.01 of 17 December 2018, available in French at: https://goo.gl/CksrSR.

[52]  See e.g. Forum réfugiés – Cosi, ‘Vidéo-audience à la CNDA : une mise en œuvre qui suscite l’inquiétude’, 1 February 2019, available in French at: https://goo.gl/n78xcp.

[53]  CNDA decisions are however not accessible on the internet. Only a selection is published by the CNDA on its website: http://bit.ly/2ki5O6G. The CNDA also publishes a compilation of case law every year, available at: https://goo.gl/GCQy4o.

[54]  Article R.733-4(5) Ceseda.

[55]  Article R.733-8 Ceseda.

[56]  Article R.733-5 Ceseda, as amended by Article 14 Decree n. 2018-1159 of 14 December 2018.

[57]  Article L.511-1 CJA.

[58]  See CNDA, Appeals before the Council of State, available in French at: http://bit.ly/1dBgbhO.

[59]  Annex 1 Circular on CADA Mission, 19 August 2011, available at: http://bit.ly/1Kv5fiG. This is expected to be amended soon.

[60]  In France, these orientation platforms (plateformes d’accueil) can have several aims: they can receive asylum seekers to provide administrative, legal and social support and can also handle requests for housing and postal address (domiciliation). 23 of these platforms are managed by NGOs.

[61]  Ministry of Interior, Reference framework for first reception services for asylum seekers, December 2011, available at: http://bit.ly/1C5aQLg, 10.

[62]  Article 93 Law n. 2006-911 of 24 July 2006 on immigration and integration.

[63]  Article 9-4 Law n. 91-647 of 10 July 1991 on legal aid, as amended by Article 8 Law n. 2018-778 of 10 September 2018.

[64]  Ibid.

[65]   CNDA, Legal Aid, available in French at: http://bit.ly/1FXqvaw.

[66]  Decree n. 2013-525 of 20 June 2013 on the compensation for the missions of Legal aid carried out by lawyers at the CNDA.

[67]  Circulaire du 19 janvier 2017 présentant certaines dispositions de l’article 135 de la loi n° 2016-1917 du 29 décembre 2016 de finances pour 2017 et du décret n° 2016-1876 du 27 décembre 2016 portant diverses dispositions relatives à l’aide juridique NOR: JUST1701743C, available in French at :  https://bit.ly/2OL2RwV.

[68]  The CNDA is based in Paris and a return train ticket from other cities (such as Lyon) already takes a large part of the fee received.

[69] Senate, Information Report n°130, prepared by Senators Jean-Yves Leconte and Christophe-André Frassa, 14 November 2012.

[70]  Decree n. 2013-525 of 20 June 2013 on the compensation for the missions of Legal aid carried out by lawyers at the CNDA also extends the possibility to designate court-appointed lawyers to all lawyers registered in any Bar in France (it was previously restricted to the Bar Associations of Paris and Versailles).

 

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation