Saturday, 27 July 2013

The lowdown on OFII: paperwork & medical visit

So, before you even leave for France you're already thinking what is OFII and why do they want to examine me?

Well, 'OFII' is the French Immigration Office and they are the people who have to validate the visa you got before coming to declare you as a legal worker and resident of France. This is probably the most important (administrative) part of your time here and the whole process must be done within 3 months, otherwise you're going to start having some problems with the French police... and nobody wants that!

First thing to do is send off your paperwork. You'll need:
  1. Le formulaire  de "Demande d'attestation OFII"- You'll already have this sheet half-filled out after your trip to the consulate in your home country when you applied for your visa. You need to fill in the second half with your French address, contact information, entry into France etc.
  2. Photocopy of your passport page with your identity and personal information, as well as the page with your stamp of entry into France.
Once you've sent off this paperwork, you're playing the waiting game. About 2-3 weeks after I sent my documents, I received the "Attestation de reception du formulaire de demande d'attestation OFII" which reassured me that they had received my documents and what documents they had received.

A week or two later, I received what I'd been waiting for:
  1. "convocation a la visite medicale"-This first letter tells you that you've been summoned for an x-ray and a general medical exam and when and where you need to go to do this. In bullet points it also says to bring this letter to the appointment, your passport, any lung x-rays taken in the last 3 months (if you have any), a vaccination card (if you have it, don't stress), a hospitalisation report if you've been hospitalised in the last year, information relating to your pregnancy if relevant and any other documents you think are relevant to your health and should be shared with the OFII doctor.
  2. "convocation pour l'attestation par l'OFII de l'accomplissement des formalites"- this is the administrative part of the appointment: the validation of your visa by OFII. It will tell you when and where you need to go to do this (it's usually done directly after the medical visit), as well as all the documents you need to bring with you. You will need; your passport, a passport sized photo of yourself, proof of where you live, a medical certificate if you've already been examined by an OFII doctor abroad or in France and a 'timbre' to pay for the validation of your visa (as an assistant you're exempt and are sent a letter to that effect. Bring this letter with you to prove it) 
Now, it's time for the medical visit. You'll arrive and there'll be a whole group of other people there who are going through the same process. You'll usually meet other assistants there which is nice. You'll show the person at the desk your passport and the letter that says you have an appointment and they'll tell you to sit down and you'll wait to be called by the doctors. The first doctor will do the chest x-ray which is the most awkward part, especially for girls. I got a male doctor which was even more awkward. The second doctor will test your eyesight, weigh you and measure your height. The third will look at your x-ray and ask you questions about your health. If all goes well, they'll give you a medical certificate that says you've been cleared to reside in France and now you're on the home stretch, woo!

Now that you've done the medical side, it's time for the administrative side. Go back to reception and wait in line. When it's your turn, present ALL the documents they told you to bring. The person behind the desk will shuffle through it all and if you have everything, they'll present you with a vignette (sticker) in your passport that is your valid visa for the duration of your stay in France. 

After that, get out of there as fast as possible and feel relieved that you hopefully won't need to deal with OFII ever again. One french administrative body out of the way, only a few more to tackle! Good luck everyone!

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