Applying for asylum
If you are fleeing from direct persecution in your home country, you are entitled to international protection. To increase your chances of being granted asylum, you should follow the asylum procedures set out by regional and national laws in Europe.
One of the EU laws that affects migrants in France is the Dublin Regulation. This law means that asylum seekers are the responsibility of the first European country they reach. If you are an asylum seeker that passed through other European countries before reaching France, you risk being sent back to the first country you arrived in.
It is important to apply for asylum as soon as you arrive in your first European country or as soon as a change in circumstances occurs that would lead to the persecution of you in your home country.
During the asylum procedure in both France and the UK, you will be able to seek a legal representative and an interpreter if necessary. Although you usually will not be able to work, you might be eligible for some financial and practical support for accommodation and education services.
If you are granted asylum by a European country, you will be able to live and work there for a fixed period of time, after which you may be eligible to apply for permanent residence.
The main steps for applying for asylum in France are as follows:
- First, you pre-register your application at a SPADA (a first reception centre). If you’re in Île-de-France, you’ll have to call 01 42 500 900 from Monday to Friday, between 10 am and 3.30 pm, to make an appointment first.
- You will then be called to a meeting at a GUDA (a prefecture service window) to officially register your asylum application.
- After that meeting, you’ll see an adviser from OFII (the French Office for Immigration and Integration) to discuss the support available to you during the asylum procedure.
- From the date of the meeting in the GUDA, you will have 21 days to file your application at the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless People (OFPRA).
You can find the addresses of all SPADAs in France here.
The main steps for applying for asylum in the UK are as follows:
- You ask for a screening meeting with an immigration officer at the UK border upon arrival. Or, if your circumstances change while you’re in the UK and you become eligible for asylum, you make an appointment at an asylum screening unit by calling 020 8196 4524 during working hours (Monday to Thursday, 9 am to 4:45 pm, Friday, 9 am to 4:30 pm).
- You register your claim at your screening.
- Afterwards, your case will be given to a caseworker and you will receive an asylum registration card (ARC).
- You might also receive a ‘preliminary information questionnaire’ which you will have to fill in and return by the deadline.
- You will then have an asylum interview with a caseworker who will explain the process to you and who will eventually make a decision on your case