Taking vulnerabilities into account

Ofpra has a role in identifying the vulnerabilities of asylum seekers. It takes them into account throughout the asylum procedure.

Lusenda, territoire de Fizi, Sud-Kivu, RD Congo : Une femme et son enfant dans le camp des réfugiés burundais de Lusenda
© MONUSCO/Abel Kavanagh

Assistance by a third party during the interview

Since the implementation of the asylum law of 2015, any asylum seeker has the ability to be assisted by an attorney or a representative from an organization during the interview conducted by the Office.

In this regard, you can consult the list of organizations authorized to send a representative.

The organizations that fall under the scope of this definition set by the law are organizations that defend human rights, the rights of foreigners or asylum seekers, the rights of women or children or work to fight against persecutions based on a person’s sex or sexual orientation.

The attorney or representative from the organization wishing to accompany an asylum seeker during the interview, notifies, inasmuch as possible, the Office of their presence in advance, at least seven days before the interview for a normal procedure and four days prior for an accelerated procedure.

Due to the great vulnerability of certain asylum seekers monitored by mental health professionals, Ofpra takes into consideration requests for support made by a psychiatrist, psychologist or psychotherapist, according to the conditions indicated in the procedures guide (See 6.2 Specific examination conditions > Special supplementary procedural guarantees).

In these exceptional cases, the Office can authorize the presence of a trusted third party during the interview according to the conditions indicated in the aforementioned guide (See 6.2 Specific examination conditions > Special supplementary procedural guarantees).

Excluding these specific cases, since the interview is individual, you may not be accompanied by another person.

The presence of children during the interview is also not permitted. If applicable, you must make the necessary provisions in order to come without your children or in the company of another person of your choice to whom they may be entrusted throughout the duration of the hearing.

Requesting asylum in case of female genital mutilation

If your child or the minor child for whom you are responsible is at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) in case you return to your country of origin, you can submit an asylum application in their name for this reason.

  • What are the risks if I practice FGM or cause it to be practiced ?

In virtue of the penal code, “violence leading to permanent mutilation or infirmity is punished with 10 years of prison and a 150,000 euro fine” (article 222-9).
If the victim is under the age of 15, the sentence is 15 years of imprisonment (article 222-10).

  • What can Ofpra do ?

Ofpra grants international protection to minors who are exposed to a fear of genital mutilation, without possible protection from their country of origin.


Which documents should be provided in support of the asylum application ?

  • Item #1: a medical certificate stating the absence of FGM

In application of article L. 531-11 of the Ceseda, this medical certificate is mandatory and must be issued by a forensic medical physician practicing in one of the health establishments indicated in decree INTV1721843A from August 23, 2017.

Here, you will find the contact information for the health establishments.

Here, you will also find the example of the medical certificate in compliance with the decree.

You will need to go to the medical exam equipped with :

  • The child’s asylum application certificate;
  • Your summons to the Ofpra interview;
  • The child’s health record booklet.

This medical certificate will be directly sent to Ofpra by the health establishment.

If, on the day of the Ofpra interview, your appointment with the physician has not yet taken place, you will need to provide the protection officer with proof certifying the appointment has been made.

The refusal of this medical exam or the absence of a medical exam according to the aforementioned conditions are not an obstacle to the examination of the child’s asylum application. Consequently, in the absence of a certificate established in accordance with article L. 531-11 of the Ceseda and decree INTV1721843A from August 23, 2017, a decision may be made on their application based on the sole elements in the Office’s possession.

  • Item #2: a medical certificate certifying the child’s mother underwent female genital mutilation, if applicable

This medical certificate is not governed by the conditions outlined in decree INTV1721843A from August 23, 2017. Nevertheless, it represents a necessary document in order to evaluate the asylum application. You can request it from the physician of your choice. You must, if applicable, send it to the Office as soon as possible once the asylum application has been submitted in the child’s name.

  • Item #3: if the minor was born in France, their birth certificate from within the last three months


Who are the people likely to be summonsed to the personal interview at Ofpra ?

Two cases are possible:

  • When the minor applying for asylum due to a risk of genital mutilation is accompanied by their father and/or mother living in France:
    • If she is under the age of 13 years old, the only people summonsed to the personal interview at Ofpra are her legal representatives or those with parental authority, i.e. her father and mother. When her parents are both living in France, the presence of both of them during the interview is essential, whether they have applied for asylum personally or not.
    • If she is between the ages of 13 and 17, she may be heard personally by an instructing protection officer regarding the reasons for her application, in the presence of her parent(s) and legal representatives.
  • When the child or young girl is applying for asylum as an unaccompanied minor :
    • Regardless of their age, she is summonsed to a hearing by Ofpra in the presence of her legal representative. The latter, who was appointed by a judge, is an ad hoc administrator, guardian or parental authority delegate.


Monitoring international protection granted to minors due to a risk of genital mutilation

Article L. 561-8 of the Ceseda provides for the periodic monitoring of the physical integrity of minors exposed to a risk of genital mutilation and, therefore, given protection for this reason.

In order to make sure that the Office’s protection is effective, the legal representatives of the minor child benefitting from the status of refugee or subsidiary protection, in accordance with article L. 561-8 of the Ceseda, is requested to make the child undergo medical examinations confirming the absence of genital mutilation.

A period of five years should take place between the two exams, unless the Office has serious reasons to think that genital mutilation was performed or could be performed.

In order to receive these medical certificates, you must follow the procedure detailed above, by going to a forensic medical physician practicing in one of the health establishments whose contact information you will find here.

If a medical certificate is not provided or genital mutilation is reported for the child granted protection, the Republic’s Public Prosecutor and the President of the departmental Council will be notified in application of article 40 of the penal procedural code and article 375 of the civil code. Indeed, it is reminded that harming the physical integrity of a minor in France is an infraction punishable by legal proceedings.

Lastly, when the parent(s) or legal representatives of a minor child placed under the protection of Ofpra due to the risk of genital mutilation, request, on her behalf, the withdrawal of her status, this protection is only ended if the Office, after hearing from the legal representatives and an examination, is absolutely convinced that the risk of genital mutilation has ceased to exist. If not, the protection granted to the child is upheld and a notification is sent to the Republic’s Public Prosecutor in application of article 40 of the penal procedural code.


If you are an adult (over 18 years old) and apply for asylum due to a risk of genital mutilation

This request may concern adult women who have not undergone FGM, women who have undergone partial mutilation as well as women who have carried out reparative surgery in France and who fear that they will be mutilated again.

You are invited to provide Ofpra with a medical certificate certifying the total or partial absence of FGM, or certifying that reparative surgery was carried out.

This medical certificate may be established by the physician or midwife of your choice.

You are invited to send it Ofpra, as soon as possible, once your asylum application has been submitted. If it was not sent in prior to the summons to the interview at Ofpra, you will need to provide it to the protection officer on the day of this interview.

This medical certificate is not mandatory for the examination of your asylum application: a decision may be made on the basis of the elements in Ofpra’s possession.


Assistance for disabled persons during the interview

If you are disabled, you can request the support of a healthcare professional who regularly monitors you or that of an organization specialized in assisting disabled people.

This possibility is in derogation of the procedures in progress and must be the subject of an exceptional authorization issued by the Vulnerabilities sector.

Consequently, you must formulate the request for assistance prior to your interview. This request can be done via email at the address: vulnerabilites[a]ofpra.gouv.fr.