Short overview of the reception system
OFII (Office français de l’immigration et de l’intégration) is the administration responsible for the reception of asylum seekers. All asylum seekers are referred to OFII after being registered as asylum seekers by Prefectures.
OFII interviews asylum seekers to assess whether they are eligible to reception conditions. If so, they will be directed to accommodation. In practice, the orientation of asylum seekers to accommodation takes place in the days or weeks following the OFII interview, but only half are accommodated in reception centres for asylum seekers. OFII is also in charge of setting and granting financial allowances. Payment starts after the registration of the asylum claims at OFPRA. The asylum claim must be sent to OFPRA in a maximum time of 21 days after registration by the Prefecture.
Asylum seekers are only accommodated when there is enough capacity. Yet, places are currently insufficient as a result of which OFII must prioritise cases based on individual circumstances and vulnerability. Persons entitled to reception following a decision from OFII can stay in the centre for 6 months after they are granted international protection or for 1 month after their claim is rejected.
Accommodation centres for asylum seekers provide rooms to sleep and cook (usually common kitchens) as well as assistance from social workers on legal and social issues. Each centre is different, ranging from large buildings with offices and bedrooms to apartments at different locations.
There are different types of accommodation centres:
- CAES (centres d’accueil et d’évaluation des situations): these are transit centres which aim at providing a quick access to reception while evaluating ones’ personal situation so that they can be re-directed accordingly;
- CADA (centres d’accueil pour demandeurs d’asile): these are accommodation centres for all asylum seekers, with the exception of those subject to a Dublin procedure;
- HUDA (lieux d’hébergement d’urgence pour demandeurs d’asile): these are centres for all applicants, including Dublin applicants.
On 18 December 2020, the Ministry of Interior published its 2021-2023 national reception plan for asylum seekers and the integration of refugees. This plan makes it possible to adapt the reception policy to the migration context and to the specific characteristics of the regions, inter alia through a better distribution of asylum seekers across all French territory. It is based on two pillars: better accommodation and support. Since 2021, this plan (governed by an order of 7 April 2021) enabled better orientation from the Paris region: 36,106 asylum seekers were directed to accommodation in another region, including 19,378 in 2022. However, this plan had a negative impact on accommodation in these regions, as the local situation has not improved and it is now becoming almost easier to be accommodated from Paris than from other places. Moreover it can lead to deprivation of all reception conditions for people who do not accept to go to another region (27% between January 2021 and July 2022).
 Arrêté du 7 avril 2021 pris en application de l’article L. 744-2 du code de l’entrée et du séjour des étrangers et du droit d’asile, NOR : INTV2107330A, available in French at: https://bit.ly/3LQ6r53.
 Strategic comittee on national reception plan, meeting at ministry of Interior, 20 March 2023.