Your French Immigration Appointment: How to Avoid Crying (Like I Did)
Hey guys. I'm just going to come right out with it. I cried during my French immigration appointment at l'OFII. Here's how it all went down:
Everything was going swimmingly until the very end - but let's start from the beginning...
First, I had to reschedule my immigration appointment at l'OFII (l'Office Français de l'Immigration et de l'Intégration) because I'd been sent a letter about three months after arriving in France that my appointment was scheduled for the day before I arrived back in France from the US for Christmas (yeah, confusing).
Rescheduling was easy, though, I just had to call the immigration office and they gave me a date that worked for everyone involved (read: me + the immigration office).
So, fast forward to the day of the appointment.
I arrive, sign in at the reception desk (tell them my name, show my passport, etc.) and am then sent into the waiting room. So far, so good.
After maybe 15 minutes, I'm called back into one of the rooms for the good ol' chest X-ray. The technician told me to enter first into a changing room to take off my bra and any jewelry above my waist. Then I entered into a bigger room where the X-ray was, had the photo taken and was out in maybe 3 minutes. Then was told to go back to the waiting room to wait to be called into another office for the paperwork stuff.
After about maybe 15 more minutes, I'm called back into a normal office with a man who gave me a stamp saying my chest X-ray was A-OK. That's a relief. Told to go back into waiting room.
After maybe 10 minutes, I'm called back into another office with a lady and my paperwork. This is where things get a tad bit dicey.
So, my appointment was on a Friday afternoon - so I already had the feeling that people just want to be out of the workweek and into their weekends. This woman exhibited this splendidly. She breezed through my paperwork, good, good, good. And, then. Utter chaos ensued.
And the carte d'identité of the monsieur or madame with whom you live?
... I ... is that needed?
Oui, madame, if you look just here it clearly states that you need PROOF of the person with whom you live if you don't expressly have your own place of residence....
(*reads over document*)
...et if you look here, there are numerous things you missed and this entire appointment was a complete waste of time for you.
(guys, by this point, the tears were COMING. You KNOW that feeling. I knew I had a number of seconds before I would be full-on crying..)
...and so what can I do?
Bah, alors, the only thing you can do is to come back next week. Monday morning, maybe, if you're lucky. I'll just need your phone number. If you look here where you wrote it on the document, I can't even READ what you've written - it's so badly-written - is that a '4' or a '9'?!
....'it's a '9'....
Bof, alors, you must come back on Monday - there's nothing I can do for you until I have the pièce d'identité of a member of your host family.
Leave the building. In tears.
How to Set Everything Up for Your Immigration Appointment in France:
Upon arrival in France, mail the following documents to your académie's Immigration Office (OFII):
- Your demande d'attestation OFII paperwork (you printed it out and had it stamped at your region's consulate when you applied for your visa)
- One copy EACH of (1) your passport identity page(s) and (2) your visa page(s) and (3) the stamp of entry you received when you entered into France or the European Union
- One copy of you arrêté de nomination (work contract)
few weeks after mailing these documents to your académie's OFII, you will receive a letter letting you know that the OFII has received your documents and that your dossier is now being processed. You will receive a file number - so keep that in a safe place just in case!
Anywhere in the next three months, you will receive an appointment (by mail) telling you when your medical visit will be that will permit you to validate your visa/titre de séjour. Ding ding ding!
What to bring with you to the OFII appointment/medical visit:
- A recent passport photo (face and head uncovered) - if you don't have one on hand, you can go to any photo booth in a train or metro station and get four or six of these babies for around 5€.
- A justificatif de domicile en France = something that proves that you currently live somewhere in France - this can be an electricity, telephone, or water bill in your name and with your address
- An attestation d'hébergement/statement that you live with a host family (if you don't live on your own) AS WELL AS a copy of an identity card (pièce d'identité) of the person whose house you live in (this is where I effed up and forgot to bring the identifying information of my hosts!!)
4 Tips for Avoiding Any Tears at l'OFII:
1. Have ALL of your paperwork and required documents - Take it from me. Read the paper telling you what you need, read it again, have your friends and colleagues read it and recite it back to you, make flashcards for what you'll be needing. Seriously, you can never be too sure about what you'll need.
2. Write legibly on all forms - Honestly, my handwriting was NOT bad, but I think if people are in a certain mood, they'll find anything wrong with what you've turned in - so make sure it's all ~flawless~!
3. Bring a friend with you for moral support! - Although not totally necessary, I think things like these are always a bit less "scary" if you have a friend with you. Whether it's a fellow teaching assistant or a local French friend who can help you navigate the confusion - it never hurts to have a little bit of support!
4. Allow for lots of time on the day of your appointment - I think I spent about an hour in all at my appointment, but with this sort of administrative task, it's always best to err on the side of taking more time than being totally "get in/get out" quick!
There you have it, folks.
mmigration appointments in France can seem stressful and scary because you don't know what to expect - but as long as you show up prepared to the best (and I mean best!) of your ability, then you'll be GOLDEN!!