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. 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. When they do have access, asylum seekers are subject to the law applicable to third-country national workers for the issuance of a temporary work permit.
The Council of State limited the scope of these provisions by indicating in 2020 that the right to work could only be requested between the date beyond which OFPRA exceeded the 6-month period and the decision of the OFPRA, and not during the appeals stage even if the conditions are fulfilled. On the other hand, the Council of State specified in 2022 that asylum seekers under a Dublin procedure were also covered by the deadline imposed by European law and, in the absence of provisions in French law on this issue, should be able to access the labour market beyond 9 months after the first introduction of their application in France. In practice, no change has been observed.
In practice, 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 at the Ministry of Labour.
In any case, the employment situation also constrains this right. In accordance with Article R.5221-20 of the Labour Code (Ctrav), the Prefect may take into account for instance “the current and future employment situation in the profession required by the foreign worker and the geographical area where they intend 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. In practice, Prefectures use these lists of sectors facing recruitment difficulties.
Recent data on asylum seekers being able to work were not available until recently even to members of Parliament but the impact study relating to a bill proposed early 2023 has provided some recent figures: between April 2021 and April 2022, out of 4,745 work permit applications submitted by asylum seekers, 1,814 were approved, i.e. 38.2% of those who applied (i.e. only 1.7% of the first asylum applications recorded in prefectures in 2021).
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, this permit is delivered to unaccompanied children, and the employment situation cannot constrain them if they meet certain criteria, except when they are in asylum procedure due to limitations applied to all asylum seekers. Thus, it is more difficult for a child asylum seeker to obtain a permit. 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.
 Article L. 554-1 Ceseda.
 Article R. 571-1 Ceseda.
 CE, 15 July 2020, 428881.
 CE, 24 February 2022, 450285.
 Ministerial Order NOR IMID0800328A of 18 January 2008 on the issuance of work permits to third-country national workers, available in French at: https://bit.ly/3A21d1l.
 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: https://bit.ly/3KsjmIJ, 37.
 Projet de loi pour contrôler l’immigration, améliorer l’intégration, Impact study, 1st February 2023, available in French at: https://bit.ly/3KC743C.
 Article L. 5221-5 Ctrav.
 They do not have the right to work except if the length of the procedure is more than 6 months.
 Article L. 554-2 Ceseda, as amended by Article 49 Law n. 2018-778 of 10 September 2018.