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 certificate provided to asylum seekers is not listed in the residence permits that makes one eligible to these benefits. Asylum seekers are also not eligible to receive 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 the ADA is calculated on the basis of resources, type of accommodation provided and age criteria. Family composition, in particular the number of children, is considered in the calculation of the ADA. The total amount is re-evaluated once a year, if needed, to take into account the inflation rate.
The daily amount of the 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 very low and renders access to accommodation on the private market almost impossible.
The 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 the ADA (except in some cases where asylum seekers are overseas) and use the card. Many problems have been raised by local stakeholders regarding the ADA, problems which persist in 2022. On many occasions, the allowance has been paid late. In addition, some asylum seekers are not used to 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 situations (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 very 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 the document attesting that the asylum seeker accepts the material conditions offered by OFII, which occurs normally when applicants go to the GUDA for registration. The effective payment usually starts when the asylum seeker produces proof of their 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 provided can no longer be used for cash withdrawals since November 2019. The card can only be used for payments, both online and in shops. This development restricts how asylum seekers can 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 the summer of 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, the ADA can be refused.
As of the end of December 2021, a total of 111,901 asylum seekers benefitted from the ADA (compared to 145,253 at the end of 2020 and 151,386 at the end of 2019).
The situation in the oversea territory of Mayotte is very specific, where there are derogations to the legal framework applicable on the mainland. In March 2021, the Council of State ruled that the authorities had seriously breached the right to asylum by failing to provide a Burundian mother – deprived of any resources and living with her 11-year-old son in Mayotte – with adapted material reception conditions while her asylum application was pending. The Council of State reiterated the State’s obligation to provide adequate material reception conditions and assistance throughout the asylum procedure. At the time of the ruling, there were only 55 accommodation places in Mayotte, for about 3 000 asylum applicants. The budget law for 2022 provides significant financial support to asylum seekers in Mayotte (3.1 million €) indicates that 355 new places should be opened at the end of 2023.
 Article 512-2 Social Security Code.
 Article L. 553-1 Ceseda.
 Article D. 553-3 Ceseda.
 Article D. 744-25 Ceseda.
 Article L. 553-7 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, available in French at: https://bit.ly/41xRZWb; Decision No 410280, 17 January 2018, available in French at: https://bit.ly/41vRGLB.
 Decree n. 2018-426 of 31 May 2018 bringing various provisions relating to the asylum seeker allowance.
 Article D. 553-18 Ceseda.
 Article D. 551-20 Ceseda.
 OFII, Indicators December 2020, published on OFII’s official Twitter account.
 Council of State, 12 March 2021, available in French at: https://bit.ly/3p9SiFY.
 Forum réfugiés, ‘Mayotte : vers une amélioration des conditions matérielles d’accueil ?’, 9 April 2021, available in French at: https://bit.ly/3vcs8X6.
 Strategic committee on national reception plan, meeting at ministry of Interior, 20 March 2023.