What is the OFII, you might ask? It stands for Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration aka immigration. As some people might remember, I mentioned the issues I was having with the OFII because my work authorisation took forever to arrive to the consulate so that I could apply for my visa. (I later found out that this was because of another administrative step, but whatever.) This, as some might remember, made me arrive in France about two weeks later than anticipated (plus, I missed la rentrée, or the start of the academic year). Anyways, my time with the OFII was not over. Two days after I arrived in Paris, I went to the administration of Paris 7 to sign my paperwork. Luckily for me, Madame Bongo, our HR admin at the university, sent in the paperwork to the OFII for us, which was super.
At Paris 7, I had to give Madame Bongo: my passport/visa, and a document that I filled out when I applied for my visa that was stamped by the Consulate. She had to make a copy of the passport/visa, as well as the police stamp marking my arrival in Paris. I know you’re thinking, “isn’t a visa enough?” Well, it’s not. If I didn’t go through the OFII, I wouldn’t be able to leave the Schengen Zone after 90 days, or I would not be allowed to re-enter. So, she sent this to the OFII, and around two weeks later, I got a notice for my convocation, where I would have a health visit and interview. Mine was on 27 October at 13h. My colleague, Nikki, and I went together, since we got our summons for the same day. Anyways, when we got there, there was a line to get in. For this appointment, you have to bring: your passport/visa, proof of residency, a passport-size photo, and, in my case, a timbre (tax stamp), which cost me 241 € (yikes!) Anyways, they start by making you take a test to see your French level to determine whether or not you need to take classes (if you don’t have an A1 level in French, you are obligated to take French classes offered by the OFII, which is pretty cool that the government does that for its immigrants.) Afterwards, you are called in for an interview, where the employee asks a bunch of questions. Then, I was sent to the health exam, where they make you get undressed from the waist up (don’t worry, you’re obviously alone), and they get an x-ray of your lungs to see if you might have tuberculosis. Then, they take your weight and height, check your eyes, and then the doctor just asks a few questions and sends you on your way. After that, the OFII finally gives you your titre de séjour, which for the first year is only a vignette (sticker) in your passport.
I know you’re probably thinking, “Wow that was easy!” Well, that’s only step one. I had to then take two classes from 9h to 17h, which I took last Tuesday and Wednesday. One is on formation civique and the other is vivre et accéder à l’emploi en France. Basically the first one was civic formation, where they talk about the valeurs de la République, such as liberté, égalité, fraternité, as well as laïcité. I wasn’t looking forward to them, but I saw that lunch was included, so I figured it couldn’t be bad. Well, I did not enjoy the food, so… Anyways, after each class, we had to take a test to see what we learned, as well as a satisfaction survey. Honestly, they were tedious. My formation civique class had a bunch of Russian immigrants who didn’t speak French and therefore needed a translator, which made it difficult to pay attention. My other class wasn’t bad either, but there was a guy who kept calling me Mademoiselle l’Amérique as an attempt to hit on me, I think. That class was also difficult to sit through, but mostly because it was the day after the elections… Anyways, it was finally over! I got my certificates and I was on my way.
And there you have it, the (sort of) lengthy process I went through at the OFII.