Freedom of movement


Country Report: Freedom of movement Last updated: 24/05/24


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Asylum seekers benefit from freedom of movement in France; except for persons who introduce an asylum application in an administrative detention centre or who are under house arrest, for instance asylum seekers under Dublin procedure (see Chapter on Detention of Asylum Seekers).

However, reception conditions are offered by OFII in a specific region where the asylum seeker is required to reside. Following the 2018 reform, allocation to a specific region can be conducted even if the applicant is not offered an accommodation place.[1] Non-compliance with the requirement to reside in the assigned region entails a termination of reception conditions. Freedom of movement is therefore restricted to a region defined by OFII. In practice, these new measures are only applicable since January 2021 following the publication of a new national reception scheme.[2] However, the Ministry of Interior has ensured that this regional assignment would only be applied as long as accommodation is secured; and this commitment was respected in practice in 2021 and 2022.

The national reception scheme assigns a reception centre or a region to asylum seekers, taking into account as much as possible the vulnerability assessment made by OFII and the general situation of the asylum seeker. The assignment to a reception centre is an informal decision, meaning that no administrative act is issued to asylum seeker, therefore it cannot be appealed.

In practice, most asylum seekers are concentrated in the regions with the largest numbers of reception centres, namely in Grand-Est, Auvergne-Rhône Alpes, and Ile de France. The aim of the new scheme put forward in December 2020 is to better distribute asylum seekers across the territory, i.e. starting with the distribution from Ile de France to other regions. However, this plan had a negative impact on accommodation in these regions, as places were being mobilised for Parisian orientations but local situations have not improved and it is now becoming almost easier to be accommodated from Paris than from other places.

Persons may have to move from emergency facilities, possibly to a transit centre (CAES) to finally settle in a regular reception centre, thus gradually progressing to more stable housing.

Restrictions of freedom of movement during the health crisis were not different from those applicable to nationals.




[1] Article L. 551-4 Ceseda.

[2] Ministry of Interior, ‘Schéma national d’accueil des demandeurs d’asile et d’intégration des réfugiés 2021-2023’, 17 December 2020, available in French at :

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