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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

I have my appointment for the OFII on June 12th, and I feel like I have no idea what to expect in regards to certain processes that the OFII has...The questions below have to do with my Long Stay Visa (Visa D).

My appointment is in Rennes, and I live in the Northwest part of Bretagne in an area close to Morlaix (it's about a 2.5 hour drive to Rennes). With the language courses that are offered (my French is nonexistent), will there be classes near where I live or will I have to go all the way back to Rennes to take them? I have travel plans in July (July 9th - 29th) and won't be able to take any classes during that time, will that be an issue for the OFII? What about the "civic" classes that are required (I've only read about them) - will they be offered close to my home, and what happens if I miss the classes?

Also, do I need my vaccination record from the states? I'm not even sure how to go about getting that...I'm praying that courses are offered near where I live because driving / taking the train to Rennes constantly sounds less than ideal. Thanks in advance for the info - the forums have made my time here a lot less stressful!
 

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There are a number of posts here that describe our members' OFII visits. One thing to remember is that every departement does things their own way, so chances are that your mileage WILL vary.

Still, July and August are definitely vacation months here in France. If you have plans for July, wait and see what they propose for your classes and just tell them that you have travel or vacation plans. Chances are they can and will work around it. (Everyone here in France takes their 3 or 4 weeks of summer holiday in July or August.)

As to where your language classes might be, that, too, can vary by where you live. Chances are you may have a choice in location, though, as the language classes tend to be contracted out.

You don't need any official documents for your vaccination record. Be prepared, however, to at least estimate when you had your last shots for tetanus, polio and the various vaccinations in childhood. Normally that is more than adequate.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #3
There are a number of posts here that describe our members' OFII visits. One thing to remember is that every departement does things their own way, so chances are that your mileage WILL vary.

Still, July and August are definitely vacation months here in France. If you have plans for July, wait and see what they propose for your classes and just tell them that you have travel or vacation plans. Chances are they can and will work around it. (Everyone here in France takes their 3 or 4 weeks of summer holiday in July or August.)

As to where your language classes might be, that, too, can vary by where you live. Chances are you may have a choice in location, though, as the language classes tend to be contracted out.

You don't need any official documents for your vaccination record. Be prepared, however, to at least estimate when you had your last shots for tetanus, polio and the various vaccinations in childhood. Normally that is more than adequate.
Cheers,
Bev
Thanks Bev,

I've searched a lot about OFII experiences, I guess my main concern is the commute to a language class...glad that there will probably be an option near me, as I'd like to take advantage of the classes...can my partner come into the appointment with me to help translate or do they speak English at the OFII? Granted, like you said, every OFII is different, but generally speaking, is it common for them to speak English at the OFII?
 

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That, I'm not sure of. (I bumbled my way through the immigration process long before they created the OFII.)

But English is a better chance than some of the other languages of newly arrived foreigners. Actually, the OFII is generally one of the "nicer" administrative offices with which you'll have dealings in the next few months and years.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Thanks Bev,

I've searched a lot about OFII experiences, I guess my main concern is the commute to a language class...glad that there will probably be an option near me, as I'd like to take advantage of the classes...can my partner come into the appointment with me to help translate or do they speak English at the OFII? Granted, like you said, every OFII is different, but generally speaking, is it common for them to speak English at the OFII?
It's easy for me to say this now as I was as worried as you before my OFII appointment, but honestly I spent more time waiting at OFII than doing anything. You definitely don't need your partner. OFII won't let them in the X-ray anyway. Passport - handover with appointment info. Sit and wait. Go into X-ray. No need for French - they direct you what to do and I just looked blank. Those staff didn't speak much English but it didn't matter. It's just an X-ray and you are just a number. Sit and wait. Eye test - which I did badly in for one eye. Then go and see doctor. I told her in French that my French wasn't great (but is good enough to explain stuff) and could she speak in English so I didn't make a mistake and say yes to something fatal! The night before I'd printed out from the internet the list of vaccinations Aussie kids have and what age they have them and then I just edited it eg removed things not relevant to me, and acted as if the document info was mine. They just want the general info. They don't want the exact truth. Just do an estimate. But do it before you go so you don't extend the appointment thinking about it.

Finish that and sit and wait. Go to front desk. Told to hand over the stamp etc. Woman has forty other people to process that day so I didn't have to talk to her and she didn't want to chat to me. She just asked for things and if I looked stupid, she repeated it in English. Stamp, stamp, stamp of documents. Long speech from her in French telling me the importance of the document and what to do two months before my visa ends eg make an appointment and renew it or confirm leaving date. I just listened and as she was pointing to the documents at the same time, everything was clear. However ask them to tell you in English if something is not clear.

That was it. No discussion with anyone about my French or anything else. I do speak French somewhat, but no-one said anything about classes anyway. They only wanted the required documents, X-ray and doctor's chat (X-ray & eye exam). I have a great big glaring disability of quadriplegia and the only comment made about it was my positive attitude. You seriously have nothing to worry about in terms of language. If you need to have French lessons, then they will have them close to you I'm sure. I think it's great you want to learn French but be warned, OFII may not even mention it!
 

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Hi,

I just had my OFII appointment last week so I can give you my account. Mine was in Montrouge (dept. 78). FYI I understand spoken French pretty well and can have very basic conversations. Here's what happened:
---I showed up at 1:00 for my appointment time, along with about 20 other people who had the same appointment time. We were let in the building one by one after a bag check by a guard. The lobby secretary just said, "Passport" to me, which I gave her, along with my paper showing I had an appointment (take that with you!). She pointed upstairs told me to go to the second floor.
---2nd floor: small conference room where a nice OFII worker came in and started telling all of us in French how we were all in that room to watch a "welcome to France" type of video. She then explained how the rest of the half day would go, including the medical test and the certificates we'd get at the end of the half day. All of this was in French. At some point she asked (in French), "Does everyone here understand and speak French?" and everyone chimed in "Oui," and I then realized I was the only non-native speaker there. Everyone else was from a French-speaking African country and/or was otherwise perfectly fluent. I think they had somehow assumed I am more fluent than I am, because I know they put some (completely) non French speakers in a different room. Even if I spoke no French, I could have sat there silently and faked it until they called my name.
---The video lasted about 15 minutes and was stuff like "here in France, husbands cannot tell their wives not to work," etc. etc.
---Next, in seemingly random order, we were called individually by name. This took the longest out of any part of the day. I was called second to last so I probably spent an hour waiting to be called.
---When called, they sent me to a little room for height and weight measurements. No need to speak French there, it's pretty obvious to stand on the scale, etc.
---Next, into a little office to chat with an employee who asked me to verify on her computer screen my name, birthdate, etc. This was the time when I think they "unofficially" tested my French, because she didn't speak a lot of English. She asked questions like if I work, where I work, how long I've been here, etc. *She told me about the language classes (which I said I didn't need and she didn't really push it because she could see that I understood her well enough to reply...I think the classes are really for people who speak NO French?)...she also asked me if I needed to see a social worker. I said I had no need. Finally, she told me about the mandatory half day of civics class that every person who comes through the OFII has to take, regardless of French proficiency or how long you've been here. She offered me two locations close to where I live and two possible dates. They only offer two dates and if you can't go to either, it's a hindrance to renewing your visa the next year, etc. So make sure you can go. That was it for her part.
---Next, the chest xray. Men and women both go naked from the waist up into the xray room and it takes two minutes max. (*Note for ladies reading this: Some women say they had to walk down a hall half naked. This location had a little "changing room" and the only person who saw my boobs (ha) was the technician who did the xray, and he sees 54354230322 boobs a day, so who cares.
---Then, wait 10 minutes or so for another nurse (?) to call me into her little office. She didn't speak English, it was all in French. She listened to my lungs with a stethoscope and then showed me my xray film (that was quick!) and told me I had no problems (no kidding, sheesh). She asked me the standard list of questions a doctor might ask about medical history: have you had surgeries, cancer, operations, etc. It was all yes or no. ***She asked me if I take any medications and I lied and said no (ha) because I do but nothing serious or worth mentioning. She asked me if I had any vaccination records from the U.S., and I said no, which is true, so she asked when is the last time I was vaccinated for something or other (I can't remember), and I told her I can't remember. :) She said, okay, "you're supposed to get vaccinated at the age of (blah blah) and/or (blah blah), she handed me a little card with the ages and info, and that was it. So in summary, you don't really have to share your medical data unless you have some pertinent issues to share.
---Someone else at a desk also asked me if I had medical insurance and through who. That part was a little complicated for me to explain in my sketchy French, but she was patient and finally got that I'm covered under my husband's plan. (I have my own carte vitale.)
---Finally, I paid the ridiculously high fee in stamps, they gave me a receipt. They gave me my carte de sejour, which is like a little driver's license. Then I was free. So it took a half day, like they said.

So overall, I would say that having some French knowledge was helpful, but I know they see people all the time who don't understand or speak French and they help you through it. If you have to go by yourself, don't stress about it. :)

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
CMTM and sandraeb - thanks so much for your responses ... they both put my concerns / stress at ease...I'm glad to know that they offer you more than one date for the civics class, and hopefully they have a French course nearby to where I live! I don't mind driving 30-45 minutes, but over an hour would be tough...thanks again!
 

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Oh and one more thing. I think my entire time at OFII lasted an hour with 40 minutes of that being waiting and 20 minutes doing something other than waiting eg having a chin wag with the doctor. I'm in Paris though. The OFII there seemed to have other more important things to do that day eg go to a cafe and drink wine.
 

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Just wanted to update this since thread since it's been dormant since May.

We went to the OFII office in Montpellier in early October 2015 and our experience was similar to what's been described.

As Americans, we don't have anything like a vaccination booklet, so we followed what is suggested above and put together a document for each of us with our best guesses as to vaccination dates. We printed out the document and took it in and they accepted it with no problems!

There were no videos and they said nothing about French classes or any other kind of classes. We're on tourist visas since we're retired - maybe that's why. We also speak French somewhat. (We could definitely use classes though!).

Overall, the OFII experience was quick, pleasant, and very professional.

Hope this helps someone else.

Rem
 

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Great - it's nice to hear such positive reports about interactions with the OFII.

And I think you're right - on visitor visas you wouldn't have any of the obligations related to the contract of integration, like the language or citizenship classes.

In any event, it's nice to know that at least one administrative office dealing with foreigners is developing a positive reputation.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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I never had any trouble either - though it was many years ago. I didn't speak a word of french at the time, and nobody was concerned about that.

Though in retrospect, I would have liked to be directed towards some classes, learning on my own took a heck of a long time and was extremely difficult!

Many years later, in applying for french nationality, they did interview me to assess my skills in french, and by that time, I had it down pretty well.

I didn't have my vaccine records either, I don't remember how we dealt with that. My husband was there and I am guessing he found ways to talk them into bending rules, as the latin peoples are so good at!
 

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I didn't have my vaccine records either, I don't remember how we dealt with that. My husband was there and I am guessing he found ways to talk them into bending rules, as the latin peoples are so good at!
When I had my medical for the carte de séjour, it was really just a simple interview. There was no "requirement" for any sort of medical records, nor vaccination card. And actually, I'm from that generation where we didn't have no (steenking?) shots for measles, mumps or chicken pox. We just "shared" the diseases with our classmates and then considered ourselves immune.

I do remember having to guesstimate at what age I may have had the various illnesses. But the doctor just noted it down and that was it.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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There were no videos and they said nothing about French classes or any other kind of classes. We're on tourist visas since we're retired - maybe that's why.
From my experience (my wife and I both have visas that allow us to work, but so far I'm the only one working) there was no video, no mention of language classes, so I suspect it's not the fact that you're on a tourist visa that led to that outcome -- I think it's more likely a matter of local variation in procedures.
 

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It's so funny to read this! I remember whenever I was getting ready for my OFII appointment, I completely freaked out when I saw the requirement for the vaccination records, and I think we ended up getting copies of my medical records to show my dates of vaccination. It was quite a pain, but that's how I interpreted what to do. Now I'm wondering why I went through all that trouble! :p
 

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From my experience (my wife and I both have visas that allow us to work, but so far I'm the only one working) there was no video, no mention of language classes, so I suspect it's not the fact that you're on a tourist visa that led to that outcome -- I think it's more likely a matter of local variation in procedures.
Actually, depending on what sort of visas you're on, it may be precisely because of the type of visa you have that you didn't have any videos, nor mention of language classes. The scientific/researcher visa doesn't seem to go through the OFII drill (or at least the civics classes, language assessment, etc. part of it), nor do those on tourist visas (including retirees here for the duration). I don't think I've heard of anyone on a standard work visa (i.e. where the employer has obtained work authorization in advance) having to do the contract of integration.

Seems to be mainly for the spouse visa folks, plus those coming in on family reunification or vie privée et familiale.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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