As an American citizen working in France, one of the administrative tasks that is necessary to complete is having an appointment with the Office Française de l’Immigration et de l’Intergration, or as it is more commonly known, OFII. This visit is what officially gives you the legal right to be staying/working in France, so it’s obviously an important (and necessary) appointment to attend!
As the result of my TAPIF-blog-reading obsession I had prior to being accepted into this program, I read a lot of horror stories about the OFII appointment and was unbelievably worried something was going to go awry the whole day. However, current and future TAPIFers, do not fret–I’m here to tell you that it is very possible to have a good, and dare I say quick (and by quick, I mean as quick as the French government can be), OFII appointment!
During the Orientation in Dijon at the beginning of October, all the assistants were given the time to hand in our paperwork for this appointment. About a week later, I received a letter from OFII stating they had received my paperwork, so all I had to do was wait to have my appointment details mailed to me.
And here begins the story of things I perceived as bad or annoying, working out for the better. After opening my bank account at the beginning of September, I still had not received my debit card by the start of the vacation (so nearly four weeks). Originally, I thought this was because there was a problem with my address, but after getting my address changed and not receiving my card, I was still without my card before I left for my trip with Alli. After returning to Clamecy, I accompanied T on a trip to the post office, as she had received a package she needed to pick up. The lady working at the post office let me look through the high school’s mail on the off-chance my bank card was somewhere in the stack (fun fact: it wasn’t), but she did hand me my letter from OFII. Upon opening the letter, I found out my appointment was scheduled for the Monday following vacation. If I hadn’t had problems with my bank card and asked to look through the mail, I would have ended up missing my OFII appointment because the high school doesn’t get mail delivered during the breaks and there is no way I could have made in from Clamecy to Dijon that minute if I had found out about the appointment on Monday! As I already had plans to go to Beaune for the last Friday-Monday of vacation, the family I stayed with was flexible with my sudden need to be in Dijon on Monday morning. What a blessing in disguise.
(And for those who were wondering, I finally received my French debit card last Friday; my American bank account and credit card are currently weeping with praises.)
Fast forward to Monday: the appointment compromises of 2 parts: a chest/lung x-ray and an appointment with the OFII office to process your paperwork.
I ended up getting to my x-ray appointment at 10h00 and even though it was scheduled for 10h45, I was immediately sent downstairs and ushered into the changing room, as you have to be topless for the x-ray. I don’t know if they were in a time-crunch or just excited to take my x-ray, but the technician opened the door to my changing room three times to check on me over the course of the 3 minutes I was in their putting my stuff down and removing my layers (sorry I’m not some sort of speed-demon un-dresser, Mr. X-Ray Technician). Overall, the x-ray was quick and painless and after being sent to the lobby to wait for 10 minutes, I was out of there by 10h40, x-rays in hand.
Given that I had 4 hours to kill between the end of the first appointment and the beginning of the second, I had some time to explore. I had met two other assistants in the lobby while we were waiting for our x-rays, so the three of us explored Dijon together for a bit, grabbed lunch, and headed to the OFII office.
At 14h00, the OFII office admitted all of us who had appointments scheduled for that afternoon (probably 20+ people), and we waited together in the lobby. Thankfully, my name was one of the first ones called, and I can honestly say I had one of the fastest doctor’s appointments I’ve ever had in my life (The doctor: “You don’t know you’re weight in kg or height in meters? Here, I’ll just guess for you. Don’t smoke? Great. Don’t have any illnesses? Perfect. Your x-rays look nice. Ciao!”). I waited less than 10 minutes after this to meet with the final doctor, who placed the vignette in my passport and sent me on my way. From start to finish, I was at the office for just under an hour, which I am still shocked by, given I was expecting to be there for hours.
The quickness of the appointment gave me just enough time to speed walk to the train station and catch the 15h30 train from Dijon to Auxerre–thank goodness for the ability to purchase train tickets from the SNCF app, as I was literally sitting on the train 2 minutes before it left the station, praying my payment would be processed before we departed. After an hour layover in Auxerre, I made it back to Clamecy by 20h00.
While it was a long day, it really could not have gone any smoother. I hope this brings some peace of mind to current or future TAPIFers who are worried about this appointment going horribly awry-it’s really not too bad!
Thanks for reading and check back next week for more.
Until next time,