TAPIF Tip/Lectrice Lesson: How to Survive OFII

If you are American, this means you are a non-EU citizen (unless you have dual nationality with an EU country). Americans have the right to stay in the Schengen Zone for up to 3 months without a visa. After 90 days, we are legally required to leave. We are also not allowed to work without a work visa, and must complete part of our visa process with OFII (Office Française de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration.)

The first part of the process is completed in the United States. After receiving your arrête de nomination, you must go to your local consulate to apply for your work visa (be sure to schedule an appointment online, and be sure to fill out the visa application form for lecteurs and assistants.) Your consulate will have a list of papers you will be required to bring to your appointment– one of those will include an immigration registration form from OFII, which can be printed from the website. Before you go to your visa appointment, be sure to fill out the top portion of the form, and then hand it in at your appointment. The consulate will then mail it back to you with your passport and your visa for you to take to France– it should be stamped! Do not forget to bring this, and do not fill out the bottom form until after you have arrived in France. Make tons of copies of this form and do not lose it!

Then, once you have arrived in France, found a place to live, and have a French phone number, you must register and send this paper (in addition to a few other things– including your arrête de nomination, a copy of your visa and passport, a copy of your entrance stamp into the Schengen Zone, etc.) to OFII, or Office Français d’Immigration et d’Integration within the first three months of your arrival. Where you are living in France will depend on which OFII office you will send your paperwork to. Be sure to send your papers via lettre recommandée to assure it does not get lost! 

Then, you will eventually receive a convocation letter in the mail from OFII after mailing in all of your documents, which will state the date and time of your medical appointment. This appointment is mandatory and cannot be missed. (Side note: I have a few friends who could not attend their appointments, and were simply told to miss the appointment, and then were automatically re-scheduled for a new one and sent a new convocation.) You may have to re-arrange classes and work schedules depending on when your appointment is scheduled, so be flexible and communicative with your teachers!

The day of your appointment, bring your passport, a passport-style photo, your convocation, a copy of your lease, a copy of your shots and medical records (which they say to bring but I never needed), and anything else stated with you. (To be safe, I brought literally ALL of my paperwork with me). Arrive early, and then be prepared to wait alongside 30+ other people (you think I’m kidding). The actual appointment consists of your average physical- height, weight, blood pressure, ears, heart, and eyes. You also have to complete a lung exam (shirtless, FYI), and speak with a final doctor, who gives you your vignette, or the “your-visa-is-now-approved” stamp in your passport.

Congratulations, you’re legal! Now, send a copy of this new vignette off to the CAF office!

Although this is exactly how the process went down in the Nice OFII Office, at the Lille OFII Office, because I had my passport/visa stolen, instead of a vignette in my passport, I received an official document to include in my dossier, which was sent to the Sous-Préfecture in Valenciennes so I can get my replacement carte de séjour. If I had not had my papers stolen, however, I would have received a new vignette like normal.

You do not have to re-do this process if you renew your visa from France, thankfully!

Do you have any OFII horror stories to share? I’d love to hear them.



12 thoughts on “TAPIF Tip/Lectrice Lesson: How to Survive OFII

  1. Hi Dana!
    Much reassurance after finding your blog post! I have been soo distressed for these past two months! I am an Australian on exchange in France for one year of study. In my first week, i had my wallet stolen that contained my passport. I immediately cancelled it online. But fortunately, i found it at lost and found, however it was all too late as i had just received my new passport. I went to OFii and told them my situation, they told me that i was to travel with my police statement, two passports and my OFii attestation letter. They said my OFii stamp after the procedure is completed will have my new passport number on it, so it would require me to carry both around. However, upon my returning to France after my holiday in Italy, the customs took my old passport that contained my visa.. they said it was illegal to have two passports and confiscated it. They gave me two photocopies of the pages of my old passport and visa. I received my appointment for OFii on that very same day as well. So i’m wondering if you’d have any idea how this would work? My new passport doesn’t have a visa…. the customs said they were going to send my old passport to prefecture.

    1. Oh my goodness what a mess! I’m so sorry this happened to you! I think you will have to apply for a carte de sejour at the Prefecture! Just go to OFII with all your photo copies and explain… and ask for an attestation stating that you completed your medical certificate so you can give that to the Prefecture! Ugh, such a hassle! Be sure to see if your bank covers theft; it’s such an expensive process but I was reimbursed in full in the end!

  2. Hi Dana, I’ve just received my Convocation today and the date is during Christmas holidays! I’ve already purchased flights, etc. Do you know anyone who’s had to change their OFII appointment? I’m in the midst of trying to call/email them and any help would be appreciated.

    1. Hi! I had a friend last year with this problem. I think he got into touch with them via phone; they told him to simply miss his appointment and they would send him a new one by mail.

      Good luck!

  3. Hey Dana! Really like your blog.

    I’m doing Tapif in Corsica and am going back home (i.e. leaving the Schengen) over Christmas break and coming back. I do not think I will have my vignette by the time I leave even though that’s weeks from now.

    It says in the handbook that as long as I have a receipt proving that I’ve started the OFII registration office I will be allowed to re-enter France.

    What receipt? Does that come with the convocation? What are your thoughts? I didn’t have a permanent address when I arrived so I put the Rectorat as the return address on my dossier. But they haven’t gotten anything/heard anything/don’t know what I’m talking about/can’t be bothered.

    1. Hi! Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you like my blog!

      Corsica must be an interesting and different experience- I only spent 4 days there in May but it must be so different to be an assistant there.

      Hmm, OFII really sucks (if you haven’t read about my current papers mis-hap.) I would call OFII directly, AND also send them an email asking for your convocation/appointment date. Just state that you changed your address and want to make sure you didn’t miss an appointment (also, your 3-month date is approaching). Usually, you should receive something in the mail that states when your appointment is (within three months of your arrival in France)– this is probably the paper they’re talking about. Otherwise, did you make a copy of the paper you sent to OFII? That could also maybe work.
      Finally, badger the Rectorat again. Send them an email, figure out who your contact person is, and get in touch with them, explain that you put the Rectorat as your return address and need to know if something has arrived with your name on it.

      Gosh, that last portion of your comment is just so France. 🙂

      Good luck!

  4. Hi Dana! One question about the medical appointment: Where you asked to bring your original vaccination record from the U.S.? I didn’t bring it to France and in my “Attestation de Reception du Formulaire…” letter it says you may be asked to bring it.

  5. I found that shirtless lung exam so strange. We took off our shirts in this little changing room then had to walk in a room shirtless with other medical people in it. I was like, how do I walk into a room shirtless? Just own it or?? That was my experience at the office in Paris

  6. I noticed that you said you leave in June. With TAPIF, the contract is until the end of April I thought. Was your contract longer?

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