Access to the labour market


Country Report: Access to the labour market Last updated: 08/04/22


Forum Réfugiés – Cosi Visit Website

Since March 2019, access to the labour market is allowed only if OFPRA has not ruled on the asylum application within 6 months after the lodging of the application and only if this delay cannot be attributed to the applicant.[1]This means that persons who do not lodge an asylum application, such as asylum seekers under a Dublin procedure, are excluded from access to the labour market. In this case, the asylum seeker is subject to the rules of law applicable to third-country national workers for the issuance of a temporary work permit.[2]

In reality, asylum seekers have very limited access to the labour market, due to a number of constraints. Prior to being able to work, the applicant must have sought and obtained a temporary work permit. To obtain this work permit, the asylum seeker has to provide proof of a job offer or an employment contract.  The duration of the work permit cannot exceed the duration of the residence permit linked to the asylum application. It may possibly be renewed.

The competent unit for these matters is the Regional Direction for companies, competition, consumption, work and employment (DIRECCTE) at the Ministry of Labour. In any case, the employment situation also puts constraints on this right. In accordance with Article R.5221-20 of the Labour Code (Ctrav), the Prefect may take into account some elements of assessment such as “the current and future employment situation in the profession required by the foreign worker and the geographical area where he or she intends to exercise this profession”, to grant or deny a work permit. 30 fields of work are experiencing recruitment difficulties which justifies allowing third-country nationals to work in these without imposing restrictions. These professions are listed by region – only 6 professions are common to the whole country.[3] In practice, Prefectures use these lists of sectors facing recruitment difficulties.

In a report published in September 2020, two members of the Parliament wrote that they did not obtain recent data on employment for asylum seekers but they think that very few asylum seekers can actually work: in 2017, only 997 work permit has been issued for asylum seekers.[4] No more recent data has been published since then.

Finally, asylum seekers have a lot of difficulties in accessing vocational training schemes as these are also subject to the issuance of a work permit. According to the law,[5] this permit is delivered to unaccompanied children, and the employment situation does not put any constraints if they meet some criteria, except when they are in asylum procedure due to limitations applied to all asylum seekers.[6]

This means that it is more difficult to obtain a permit for a child who is an asylum seeker. That is why some children do not want to ask for asylum. However, a child who has a work permit can request asylum without any effect on the permit.[7]


[1] Article L.744-11 Ceseda, as amended by Article 49 Law n. 2018-778 of 10 September 2018.

[2] ArticleR.742-2 Ceseda.

[3] Ministerial Order NOR IMID0800328A of 18 January 2008 on the issuance of work permits to third-country national workers, available in French at:

[4]  Assemblée nationale, ‘Rapport d’information relatif à l’intégration professionnelles des demandeurs d’asile et des réfugiés’, J.N Barrot & S. Dupont, September 2020, available in French at :, 37.

[5] Article L.5221-5 Ctrav.

[6] They do not have the right to work except if the length of the procedure is more than 6months.

[7]   Article L.744-11 Ceseda, as amended by Article 49 Law n. 2018-778 of 10 September 2018.a

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