If you are recognised as a refugee, you still have a few administrative procedures to make, like getting your residence permit, getting your civil status documents established, going to the OFII. The refugee status grants you access to social rights and to work.
1/ The residence
If you are recognized as a refugee: You have to go to the prefecture with the decision sent by the OFPRA or CNDA stating that you have been granted the refugee status : you can ask there your residence permit.
WARNING: you will not be given your definitive residence permit (10 years permit) straight away, because you need to present the birth certificate from the OFPRA to the prefecture, as well as the OFII medical certificate and a domiciliation certificate in order to get this definitive permit.
The prefecture will deliver you, within 8 days, a temporary authorization valid for six months (a récépissé), with the mention “status of refugee”, which allows you to work. It happens sometimes that prefectures only deliver récépissés valid for 3 months only.
>>>When your récépissé expires, the prefecture will deliver you another one, if you still do not have the birth certificate from OFPRA.
>>>The prefecture may ask you a housing certificate (proof that you have a place to live in). If you do not have such a document yet, you can present your domiciliation certificate, and explain that you do not have a stable house yet.
WARNING : a lot of prefectures demand a housing certificate before they deliver a residence permit. This goes against what is written in the legal texts. Homeless people may ask help from their domiciliation centre.
2/ Civil Status Documents
OFPRA sends you a letter with a form you have to fill out very carefully (called “fiche d’état civil”) with the following information:
-Family name, given name
-Date and place of birth
-Husband or wife’s name
-Information about your marriage even if it is a traditional one
You must join your birth certificate if you have one, or otherwise write a letter to explain why it is impossible for you to get one.
>>You may be asked to present any identity or travel documents you have. If you don’t, you just have to explain the reason why you can’t get it to the OFPRA. This won’t be a problem for the rest of your procedures.
>Within a month, OFPRA will send you by mail a document that will serve as a birth certificate and a marriage certificate if you are married.
3/ OFII Office Français de l’immigration et de l’insertion
As soon as you receive your birth certificate established by OFPRA, you have to show it at the prefecture.
The prefecture will then give your file to the OFII. OFII will ask you to come in its office in order to:
-Attend a medical examination
-Attend a day of formation about France (“civic day”- journée civique)
-Attend a french language test
-Sign the CAI contract (contrat d’accueil et d’intégration, CAI – “arrival and integration” contract).
Going to this appointment at OFII’s will allow you to obtain your resident permit.
It is an obligation to sign the reception and integration contract (CAI), to take part in the civic day and to follow the French lessons.
>> If you didn’t receive the OFII’s appointment 4 or 5 months after you give the birth certificate to the prefecture, try to contact the OFII to know the reasons of the delay and to check that the prefecture actually transmitted your file to the OFII.
4/ Refugee’s family
Family reunification: if the husband or wife and the children under 18 stayed in the home country and you want to make them join you in France.
As soon as you get your récépissé with the mention “refugee” on it, you can apply for family reunification. Refugees do not have to prove that they have special funds or lodging.
WARNING: the family reunification must be made in the French consulate of the country your family lives in. You mustn’t ask anything to the authorities of your country.
You must send to your family all the documents provided by the Ministry so that they can go to the Consulate with copy of these documents and ask for a visa:
-letter from OFPRA/CNDA granting you the refugee status.
-a both side copy of your resident permit or your récépissé delivered by the prefecture
-Details about the composition of your family, with the exact address of your family out of France.
-And, if you already have it: your birth certificate provided by OFPRA.
It may be useful to make a copy of the visa application and send it (registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt) to the visa office in Nantes : here is the address :
Direction générale des étrangers en France
Sous-direction des visas
Bureau des familles de réfugiés
11, rue de la maison blanche
44036 Nantes Cedex 01
Normally, the processing time would be 2 months. But it happens frequently that the control of civil status and family bounds takes more time, up to 8 months.
Once they get the visa, your family can join you in France.
GOOD TO KNOW ABOUT :
1/Principle of family unit
The principle of family unit allows to grant your wife or husband (if she or he has your nationality and if you were already married when you applied for asylum) and your children under 18 the refugee status, on the condition that they are registered by OFPRA.
Which means, after their arrival into France, the person will have to go to the prefecture to apply for asylum and will state in the file that their husband or wife or relative is a refugee.
The husband or wife and the children older than 16 can then be recognised as refugees and obtain a resident permit.
2/ The 10 year resident permit is a right for the member of the family
Even if they are not granted the refugee status by virtue of the family unit principle, your husband or wife can benefit from a carte de séjour (residence permit) valid for 10 years. You have to have been married before the granting of the refugee status. Children must be under 19 years old.
5/ Social rights
When you get the refugee status, you can benefit from some social assistance.
As a refugee, you are entitled to general social insurance which is called “Protection maladie universelle”.
You can obtain Cmu – complémentaire (that gives you access to free medical attention) provided that you are on low income.
This means :
>>If you only have right to the general social insurance, you will pay your medical care, and then the health insurance reimburses you a part of the money you paid.
>>If you have right to the general social insurance AND the CMU-Complémentaire (CMU), then you do not pay for your medical care: the insurance pays for you.
If you want to benefit from this health insurance system, you have to go to the CPAM (The health insurance office of the area you live in).
>>RSA ( Revenu de Solidarité Active)
The RSA is a financial assistance given by the CAF (Caisse d’Allocation Familiale), provided that
– You are a refugee
– You are over 25 years old
– You have no or very low income.
>>If you are under 25 years old but pregnant or taking care of a child, you can also benefit from the RSA.
>> If you are under 25 years old, you can go to the “mission locale” of your place of residence : this is an office in charge of helping under 25 years old young people to find work or training.
To apply for RSA, you have to go to the city council of the place where you live or to meet a social worker. The documents you need to show :
– your récépissé with the mention “refugee” on it
– a certificate of domiciliation
– your ADA notification (the document where is written the amount of money OFII gave you during your asylum process).
The amount of the RSA is about 524 euros per month for a single adult, 787euros for a couple.
It is re-calculated every 3 months.
>>Temporary allowance (ATA)
If you are under 25 and cannot apply for RSA, you can ask this allowance to the Pole Emploi. It is about 345e per month, limited to twelve months.
You have to go and apply for it at the Pôle Emploi office.
>>Familial benefits (CAF)
Refugees and persons under subsidiary protection can be entitled to family benefits if they fit the criteria (expecting a child, having a child aged less than 3 years old, having two children or more, raising a child alone…). Information can be given by a social worker.
>>Transport solidarity card
Every region in France organises special price system for people who benefit from the RSA, or have low income. You can get information in the transport offices (bus or train stations..)/
In ILE DE FRANCE (Paris area) : Solidarité Transport
With your attestation of complementary CMU (social insurance), you can get a 50% discount on your train and metro tickets for Paris and the suburb, and 75% on the orange card. When you have RSA, it is completely free.
Call the free number 0800-948-999 to get the file to fill in.
If you have been granted refugee status or subsidiary protection, you have the right to work and this right is mentioned on your récépissé. To help you beginning your job search, you can register yourself as a job-seeker in the Pôle Emploi.
The Pôle Emploi is a public service, in charge of registering job-seeker and heping them find a job. You can be registered with the Pôle Emploi to get help to look for a job or a training by calling them at this number : 39 49 or checking their website. They will give you an appointment for registration.
>>Local mission for people under 26
If you are under 26, you can get registered with the Pôle Emploi and with the local mission (Mission locale), which will provide you help and support about professional issues.
Advice: it can be faster to find a job if you get registered with temporary work agencies. These work agencies are private societies that put in relation employers and job-seekers. Generally, these agencies are specialized in one business sector (building, food service…).
>> Ask for temporary stay in a CPH (temporary center)
As a refugee, you can ask for a stay in a CPH. You have to fill the file with a social worker and send it to the OFII. If you get a place in a CPH, you can keep it for 6 months.
>> Apply for social housing at your city council
It is called HLM (social housing). The application has to be done in the Housing service of the city council where you live.
>> Apply for SIAO (temporary housing) with the help of a social worker
8/ Driving licence
Once you have been granted refugee status you must ask for the exchange of your foreign driving license within one year.
You have to go to the prefecture with:
-your driving license,
-a translation of this license
-your residence permit.
9/ Travel documents
If you want to travel abroad after you obtained your resident permit or your temporary card, you have to go to the prefecture and fill a form asking for a travel document.
You have to bring with you :
-Your residence permit
-The OFPRA/CNDA decision granting you the refugee status
-A housing certificate
-20 euros (tax stamps)
Warning : you can’t go to your country except in exceptional circumstances (death of a member of your family, disease…) otherwise you can loose your refugee status.
If you have to go to your country because of one of these events, you have to ask the prefecture for an authorisation. The prefecture will deliver you a “laissez passer” instead of your travel document.
10/ Certificate of study level for degrees obtained abroad
If you have been graduated abroad, your degrees can be recognized. It is free for refugees.
You will have to send to the address “ CIEP, ENIC-NARIC 1 avenue Léon Journault 92318 Sévres Cedex “ the following documents:
– a copy of your original degree,
– a copy of the translation of your degree (made by a sworn translator) except if they are in English or Arabic
– a copy of your resident permit,
– a proof of address
– a letter explaining why you want your degree to be recognized, how long you’ve been studying and the details of your studies,
– a half size envelope, stamped, with your name and address on it.
11/ Loss of refugee status
The refugee status is not granted for your whole life. It can be removed, in the two following cases:
– voluntary loss of the status: you go back to live in your country, you obtain another nationality, you managed to be under the protection of your country
-The 1C5 clause (cessation clause) of the Geneva Convention provides that the refugee status can be removed when the circumstances in connection with which he was recognised a refugee have ceased to exist.The Geneva Convention provides that the refugee can keep the status if he invokes compelling reasons arising out of previous persecution.
>> If the refugee status is lost or removed, it might not affect your right to stay in France.