Making an appointment to the prefecture: what to do if it is impossible?

prefectureFor months, getting an appointment to the prefecture to submit an application to the foreigners’ service in certain prefectures has become a real obstacle course.

The counters are less and less open to the public, it is now necessary to use a mobile phone or computer, and to have access to the Internet, to apply for a residence permit or the renewal of a residence permit, to signal a change in their situation, submit a nationality file, or have an application registered.

Public services are all increasingly using digital technologies to reduce the number of agents assigned to receive people. The administration speaks of “simplification” or “facilitation” measures; but everyone can see that what is called “dematerialization” on the contrary makes the slightest step more complicated, and excludes a large part of the public, the most deprived, the less educated, the most isolated.

Very often, even if one has a computer and an internet connection, they have to spend a lot of time in front of their screen, repeating and repeating the attempts, the administration site indicating at the end:

“  There is no longer a free time slot for your appointment request. Please try again later  ”.

Under these conditions, what to do?

The purpose of this note is to suggest a few avenues:

  1. Multiply the attempts to obtain an appointment
  2. Gathering evidence of efforts made to secure this meeting
  3. Preparation for an Appeal to a court
  4. Request Help from an immigration attorney

I. Multiply the attempts to obtain an appointment

> Note. The goal here is, of course, to obtain an appointment, but also to set up a file which will make it possible to make an appeal, if one does not obtain this appointment.

You must start by trying to get the appointment by following the instructions given on the sites of the prefecture or sub-prefecture on which you depend: making an appointment online, or by email, or by mail or at the counter.

Please note: in some departments, applications do not have to be made at the same place, or in the same way, depending on whether it is a first application or a request for renewal of the permit, depending on the nationality of the person, and depending on whether the request concerns a student in France, an employee, a request for a permit for health reasons, etc.


Step 1: Making an appointment online

If the appointment is to be made online, you should try again if possible every day if possible, and if possible at different times, for an extended period (see below, “Gather proofs (…) “).

During each attempt, repeatedly press the F5 key on your keyboard to “refresh the page”, which may allow you to have access to new available appointment ranges.

The meeting times on the sites of the prefectures are renewed automatically at varying times of the day, during the week and at weekends …


Step 2: Sending emails

You can, after a few tries, send an e-mail to the service for foreigners (stay of foreigners) of the prefecture. This mailing does not guarantee that an appointment will be given at all, but it will allow you to show that you have done everything you can to secure that appointment.

Sending e-mail can be repeated several days in a row, several times a week.

In the message sent by e-mail:

  • indicate the purpose of your request (eg request for [such] residence permit, on [such] basis, that is to say for [such] reasons);
  • explain that you have tried, without success, on such and such dates, to make an appointment online;
  • request that an appointment be given, by e-mail, or by post.

Do not forget to mention your name, first name, place, and date of birth, nationality, e-mail address, and postal address, as well as your foreigner’s number if you already have one.

> The idea is to enclose with this e-mail evidence of your attempts to obtain the appointment on the Internet.


Step 3: Procedure at the reception of the prefecture or sub-prefecture

Even in the prefectures that warn that people are not welcomed at the walk-in counter, it is worth taking this step. It will probably not allow you to get the date you want but will be one more element of showing that you have tried everything to get this date.

It is recommended to be accompanied by a third person who can testify, if necessary, of the refusal of the prefectural agent to grant you an appointment.


Step 4: Sending a mail-in RAR

It is also interesting to write to the prefecture (Foreigners Service), by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt (RAR). In most cases, the answer will be return mail and the indication that the appointments are being made online, but you will have more proof of your attempts.

The mail must contain the same information as listed above for sending an e-mail. Again, it is best to attach proof of your attempts to make an appointment on the internet (see below) and by e-mail.

To this letter, it is also possible to attach a copy of the documents requested to constitute the file.


Step 5: Request mediation from a local representative of the Defender of Rights

The local representative of the Defender of Rights can intercede on your behalf to obtain an appointment. But do not expect much from him.


II. Gathering evidence of the efforts made to obtain this appointment

To take legal action against the impossibility of obtaining an appointment, it will be necessary to have proof of each of the steps taken in order to try to obtain this appointment.

Several ways of constituting this evidence  :

→ The collection of the dates of the steps taken

Whenever you try to get an appointment, whether by internet, e-mail, mail or at the counter, it is important to note the day and time.

→ Photocopies

You must keep a copy of all the attempts you have made: print sent emails, copies of sent emails. If possible, scan them, to have a digital version.

Also, keep the receipt notices of letters sent in RAR (received receipt requested).

→ The screenshots

The screen to be copied is the one that includes the response from the prefecture site indicating that there is no free appointment slot. Be careful to include in this capture the date and time of the connection to the prefecture site.

How to do this depends on the computer systems used.

  • Some keyboards include a “Print screen” or “Screenprint” key to take a screenshot. If this key is absent or does not work, the same operation can be performed by “right-clicking” on the mouse and choosing the “Take a screenshot” option.
  • On a computer configured under Ubuntu, there is also the possibility of using a tool called “gnome-screenshot” or “screenshot”, which allows you to select the area to “capture”.
  • You can find various ways to make a “screenshot” (depending on the system used: Linux, Mac OS, Windows )

You can then save the screenshot in an image or pdf file, or paste it into a word processing file (CTRL + C and CTRL + V keys). This backup will be one of the attachments to the file.

The copy can be printed on paper, and / or kept in a “pdf” file.

You have to take screenshots regularly. Administrative tribunals have different attitudes in different departments when it comes to assessing a person’s goodwill in view of the number of attempts he has made.


III. Preparation for an Appeal to a court

There are several types of litigation.

The different procedures are more or less long, more or less easy to initiate alone, requiring or not the assistance of a lawyer … The choice of the procedure to be used depends on criteria that will be retained by the administrative court. The question of urgency arises in particular. If, for example, you need to obtain an appointment for the renewal of a residence permit which authorizes you to work, and you risk losing your job because your residence permit has expired, you can invoke the emergency. 

If, on the other hand, it is the filing of a naturalization application, with some exceptions, urgency will not be retained.

> The best is to consult a legal office of an association to know if an appeal can be initiated, and what type of appeal can be made.


IV – Request help from an immigration attorney

We will represent you before the French Authorities and will double down on your demand to schedule an appointment with the Prefecture. If the Prefecture does not give the proper answer, we will take legal actions and will represent you before the Court.

 Are you still waiting for your appointment with the Prefecture?

let’s take actions

J2M tax & legal


The “useful measures” summary

The “useful measures” summary procedure, which is to be initiated before an administrative tribunal, is so-called because it allows in principle, as its name suggests, that the judge quickly orders the administration (here, the prefecture), to take a “measure” (here an appointment).

The judge calls a hearing within 15 to 30 days and in the event of a favorable decision, orders the Prefecture to set an appointment, most often within 15 days.

The court will take into account the elements showing that the administration has not responded to the requests made to it (art. L. 521-3 of the code of administrative justice – CJA).

To initiate this procedure, it is preferable to have the assistance of a lawyer.
This issue should be addressed as soon as you contact a lawyer. 

The “request” presented to the court must provide proof of the urgency, the impossibility of obtaining the appointment and also the seriousness of the request.

  • Demonstrate the urgency
  • Provide proof of the steps taken to obtain an appointment
  • Show the “serious” or “reasonable” nature of the request

The different possible consequences of a legal action

  1. It very often happens that following a request for interim relief “useful measures” the prefecture proposes, before the hearing, a date of appointment, to avoid a conviction by the judge. Unless this date is too far away, or even, in the event of the intervention of a lawyer, when the administration is ordered to pay the costs of the proceedings, it is desirable to accept this date of Appointment.
    If the administration does not propose an appointment date, the judge will rule on the request.
  2. It is possible that the appeal lodged with the administrative court does not even lead to a hearing, the court finding that the appeal is “without merit”. This rejection, decided at the outset, is called a “sorting order”.
    Court decisions vary, on this subject as on many others. Some judges, for example, considered that the impossibility of obtaining an appointment did not constitute an administrative decision, a refusal by the prefecture …
    Nothing prevents to file a new request, a few weeks later, after having gathered new evidence of unsuccessful attempts to secure the desired date, and emphasizing the consequences of the difficulties encountered.
  3. If the decision of the administrative court is negative, the rejection of your request will be motivated, that is to say that the reasons for this judgment will be given to you in the text of the decision.
    It will be possible for you, as in the case of rejection at sorting, to lodge a new appeal, but making sure that your second request responds to the court’s objections. Depending on the reasons for the rejection, wait to have proof of a longer duration of attempts, or bring more proofs per week, or new proofs (by cumulating e-mails + screenshots + letters in RAR ).
    You should know that people get satisfaction by insisting, after the appeal in court, or with a new appeal. So, we should not be discouraged because we lost in court.

  4. If the administrative tribunal’s decision is positive, the Prefecture is therefore ordered to set an appointment within 8 or 15 days.
    Please note: it often happens that this deadline is not respected by the administration, or even in certain cases that the decision remains without effect for a few months. It may then be useful to inform the judge that his decision has not been executed and to ask him to impose a fine for each day of delay (for example the payment of 100 € per day by the prefecture until she gives the requested appointment). It is strongly recommended to contact an association or its lawyer.