Different forms of material reception conditions exist in the law. They include accommodation in reception centres and a financial allowance. This section will refer to the forms and levels of financial assistance available to asylum seekers.
The law excludes asylum seekers from the granting of all family-related welfare benefits as the asylum claim certification provided to asylum seekers is not listed in the permits that give eligibility to these benefits. Asylum seekers are also not eligible for receiving the social welfare allowance, the so-called Active Solidarity Income (RSA), granted to individuals over 25 years old who do not have resources or have very low incomes.
The allowance for asylum seekers (allocation pour demandeur d’asile, ADA) is granted to asylum seekers above 18 years old, who accept material conditions proposed by OFII and remain eligible for reception conditions. Only one allowance per household is allowed. The payment of the allocation ends at the end of the month of the decision ending the right to remain on the territory.
The amount of ADA is calculated on the basis of resources, type of accommodation provided and age criteria. Family composition, in particular the number of children, is taken into account in the calculation of ADA. The total amount of ADA is re-evaluated once a year, if needed, to take into account the inflation rate.
The daily amount of ADA is defined upon application of the following scale:
|ADA rate by household composition|
An additional daily rate is paid to adult asylum seekers who have accepted to be accommodated but who cannot be accommodated through the national reception scheme. Following successive rulings of the Council of State annulling the previous provisions due to the inadequacy of the set amount (4.20 € and 5.40 € respectively), the current amount granted is 7.40 € per day. This amount remains really low and renders the access to accommodation on the private market almost impossible.
ADA is paid to asylum seekers on a monthly basis directly by OFII on a card, similar to a debit card that can be used by asylum seekers. It is not necessary for asylum seekers to open a bank account to benefit from ADA (except in some cases where asylum seekers are overseas) and use the card. Many problems which persisted in 2020 have been raised by local stakeholders regarding ADA. On many occasions, the allowance has been paid late. In addition, some asylum seekers are not familiar with using a bank card or a cash machine. In some accommodation centres, asylum seekers do not receive the same amount even if they are in similar situation (e.g. same date of arrival and registration, same family composition or same duration of accommodation in the centre). These issues can create tensions between asylum seekers and may expose social workers to a lot of pressure and complicate their work. Moreover, it is really difficult to interact with OFII, according to local NGOs, to resolve such problems. Despite the presence of local representations of OFII in regions, they usually do not intervene at the level of the allowance distribution (although it should be noted that there are some exceptions, where OFII’s offices are accessible to asylum seekers in certain cities such as Lyon, Clermont-Ferrand or Toulouse).
The starting point of the calculation of the allowance is the date of signature of acceptance of material conditions offered by OFII, which may occur normally when applicants go to the GUDA for registration. The effective payment usually starts when the asylum seeker produces the proof of his or her asylum claim being lodged with OFPRA. The payment is supposed to retroactively take into account the time spent between the registration at Prefecture and the sending of the asylum claim to OFPRA. In practice, many issues have been reported in this regard as well. The amounts do not correspond to the aforementioned period or the first payments are provided at a very late stage. In addition, OFII sometimes requests late repayment of undue payments, and consequently puts asylum seekers in important financial difficulties.
Moreover, the credit card on which the financial allowance is being provided can no longer be used for the withdrawal of cash since November 2019. The card can only be used for payments, both online and in shops. This development limits the possibility for asylum seekers to use their money and has been strongly criticized by NGOs. As a result, asylum seekers cannot buy food in local markets or small shops nor clothing in second hands shops, or pay for public transportation when there are no electronic means available, or pay a deposit in cash for a rent. Moreover, in summer 2020, all asylum seekers had to change their card due to a technical issue.
In case of a subsequent application or if the asylum claim has not been introduced within 90 days, ADA can be refused.
As of the end of December 2020, a total of 145,253 asylum seekers benefitted from ADA (compared to 151,386 at the end of 2019).
 Article 512-2 Social Security Code.
 Article L.744-9 Ceseda.
 Article D.740-18 Ceseda.
 Article D.744-25 Ceseda.
 Article L.744-9 Ceseda, as amended by Article 13 Law n. 2018-778 of 10 September 2018.
 Annex 7-1 Ceseda.
 Council of State, Decision No 394819, 23 December 2016; Decision No 410280, 17 January 2018.
 Decree n. 2018-426 of 31 May 2018 bringing various provisions relating to the asylum seeker allowance.
 Article D.744-33 Ceseda.
 Article D.744-37 Ceseda.
 OFII, Indicators December 2020, published on OFII’s official Twitter account.