Please note that we can only give general guidance on this subject and we recommend that you consult a specialised lawyer for advice if you receive an OQTF.
See here for the Ministry page in English
The OQTF (obligation de quitter le territoire français) is the French administrative removal procedure, replacing the former reconduite à la frontière, and not to be confused with expulsion, which is the deportation measure, typically based on grounds of public order and criminality.
The relevant decisions, or at least the main elements, may be translated on request (L613-4 CESEDA). Reasons are not given in the event of refusal to issue, renew or withdraw a residence permit as the reasoning contained in the relevant decision (which is a different decision from the OQTF) is considered sufficient.
There are two types of OQTF, one immediate (sans délai) and one that leaves time for the person to leave France voluntarily.
Where a residence permit is refused the immediate order can be issued (L612-2 para 2 CESEDA).
The normal deadline for leaving France voluntarily will be 30 days from the date of notification of the OQTF. If a person doesn’t leave (and doesn’t appeal to a court) within that time, they can be “removed” (a separate reasoned decision will be issued). The OQTF states the destination country to which the person will be sent forcibly in such cases. A ban on returning to France (“IRTF”, for up to 2 years) will also be imposed but may be annulled if the person returns within two months.
Exceptionally, the prefect may extend this period on request if the situation so justifies (length of stay in France, schooling of children, etc.). But the period may also be cancelled, mainly in the event of a risk of absconding.
During the period prior to voluntary departure, the prefect may require the person to report up to 3 times a week to the prefecture or the police station/gendarmerie.
A person may also be placed under “house arrest” (assignation à résidence).
A right of appeal is provided for under the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) for a refusal of status and the ordinary remedies apply (L 614 CESEDA) – there is no special mechanism for the WA cohort.
In addition to the OQTF it is possible to challenge any of the ancillary measures, including the refusal of the residence permit, a prohibition on returning to France (IRTF), the decision on the country of return.
If you are appealing against the refusal of a permit without the OQTF in theory you can try an ordinary appeal to the administrative authority: “Recours gracieux” (to the préfet), “Recours hiérarchique” (to the Minister of the Interior), within two months. But these out-of-court mechanisms are often found inadequate by migration lawyers, not least because they do not suspend the time-limit for appeal to a court. To suspend the measure itself in that period a référé procedure would be necessary.
If a OQTF is issued it has to be appealed against before the court on account of the time-periods involved.
An appeal against the OQTF is made directly to the French administrative courts, namely the Tribunal administratif (TA). Higher appeals then lie to the Tribunal administratif d’appel and (on points of law) to the Conseil d’Etat (with the possibility of a preliminary reference to the ECJ by the latter if it gets that far).
An appeal to the TA, but not a higher appeal, suspends the enforcement of the OQTF.
To appeal against the OQTF with voluntary departure deadline (or against a refusal of a residence permit) to the TA it usually has to be within 30 days from the date of notification (with additional time allowed for legal aid applications).
The court is supposed to give its ruling within 3 months. In practice the hearing is often held 5 months after the appeal and the decision takes a further month.
Higher appeals before the administrative court of appeal have to be lodged within one month.
In the case of an immediate removal order (and/or house arrest), the appeal is lodged within 48 hours. The TA then rules within 4 days if the person is in administrative detention, otherwise 6 weeks.
The administration cannot force a person to leave France if they are in a number of enumerated situations:
· minors (but may be removed with parents)
· lawful residence in France for more than 10 years (or 20 if 10 or more spent as a student, unless married for at least 3 years to a foreigner who has been living in France for at least 13 years)
· residence in France since childhood (beginning before14th birthday)
· marriage to a French citizen for at least 3 years
· parent of a minor French child residing in France (contributing financially or practically to the child's upbringing)
· receipt of an annuity, after an accident at work, from a French organisation (minimum 20% incapacity)
· medical condition requires care in France, which would not be available in the destination country.