If you are the recipient of a long-stay visa in France, one of the requirements you need to fulfill to validate it is to have a medical examination by OFII. I’d heard horror stories from others who’d undergone the process, and while my experience wasn’t that bad, I wouldn’t exactly call it pleasant.
To help those who have an upcoming appointment with OFII be better prepared, I decided to share details of my visit, which I had to undergo as part of the validation of my salarié visa.
Convocation from OFII
Upon receiving my visa, I’d been instructed to validate it online and pay a tax within three months of my arrival in France. I dutifully did so, which resulted in my being officially registered on the Etrangers en France website, and having OFII notified of my presence.
Apparently, it used to be that you had to mail in some forms to OFII yourself – this is no longer the case, and I had no direct contact with OFII prior to receive my convocation.
Within a few weeks of validating my visa, I was contacted by OFII by email. The email contained two convocations: one for my mandatory medical visit, and one for my interview and orientation (which I will discuss in a separate blog post).
The dates and times of these visits are fixed. While OFII says you can contact them to change them, apparently this requires you going there in person. And so, while the dates weren’t ideal (and only gave me two weeks to inform my employer of my absence), I decided to keep them to save myself the trouble.
Required Documents for your OFII Medical Exam
In my convocation letter, OFII stated that I was required to bring two essential documents:
- My passport,
- A printed-out copy of my convocation,
- My vaccination records.
I was also told to bring the supporting documents if they were applicable to me:
- Recent X-rays of my lungs,
- Hospital records,
- Glasses/contact lenses,
- Maternity records.
Out of these, the only thing I brought were my glasses and a box of contact lenses. I also brought the results of a recent vision test, as well as prescriptions I’d received in recent months, but the doctors weren’t interested in either of these.
The OFII Medical Visit
My OFII medical exam was at an office in one of the banlieues of Paris. It was slotted for 2:30 PM and I arrived by 2:15, having heard that it isn’t useful to arrive more than 15 minutes early as they won’t let you in until it’s close to your exam time.
There was a large crowd of people outside, which I assumed was the line, but found out that for those with convocations we could precede to the front door and reception. I was quickly checked in and ushered into a waiting room, where I waited for less than 10 minutes before being whisked into the exam room.
The OFII visit consisted of five parts with five different doctors. The first was the initial checkin, where I had to provide basic information such as gender, telephone number, and country of origin, followed by a questionnaire about tuberculosis symptoms (I’d soon find out that TB is the main focus of the examination).
After that, I went to see another doctor where they took my height, weight, performed a vision test, and asked about whether I smoke, drank, exercised, and so on. It all happened very fast and the doctor did not even ask me to remove my contact lenses before completing the eye exam, which I found a bit odd.
The third part was the most uncomfortable: the chest X-ray. For this I was required to strip from the waist up, tie my hair up into a bun, and have a technician do an X-ray of my lungs. I disliked this part for two reasons: 1) the technician was a man, whereas I would have preferred a woman doctor for something this intimate, and 2) the technician had a very strong accent that I could not understand despite being fluent in French, and he frequently got testy with me and raised his voice, and repositioned me as I did not understand how exactly he wanted me to stand. The whole thing made me feel very humilated.
In the fourth part I had my blood pressure taken, and the doctor listened to my heartbeat and monitored my breathing patterns. Much like the second part, I was asked questions about my lifestyle and medical history. After being scolded for not exercising enough, I was given what I came for: my medical certificate, certifying that I was healthy enough to work in France.
The fifth part was optional but highly encouraged by the previous doctors: a test for Hepatisis C, Hepatisis B, and HIV. The informative paper I was given on this stated that the results would have no impact on the obtention of a carte de séjour, and would only be used for research. It involved a short questionnaire, a prick of the finger, and waiting a few minutes for the result.
After this I was free to leave, instructed only to have my medical certificate stamped by the receptionist on my way out.
While the process was uncomfortable at times, overall I didn’t find it as bad as people said it would be. That said, I’m very, very glad that this will be my last time doing this!
Do you get a gown or a cover of some sort, since you have to take your top and bra off??
I can’t speak for all the OFII centres in France, but at least for the one in Paris there is no gown or cover offered. I just covered up with my hands until I did the x-ray. Was a bit awkward as it was a male tech but everyone is professional and it only lasts a minute or so. I’m glad it’s something I only had to do once!
Wow that’s really barbaric. Boobs are sexualized in France, as with every other Western country, so totally inappropriate. It’s a shame women can’t be treated with more respect and dignity, as in other places. Not to mention there are women of various other cultures going through this. I’ll go elsewhere if I decide to stay here. Thank you for the quick response!
I find France is quite relaxed about nudity so it could be why they are fine with the process. When seeing other doctors throughout the years for various things in Paris I’ve never been offered gowns either, so it’s not just something done at OFII (and not necessarily just a French thing either – I’ve lived in other European countries and covers during medical exams are not very common). As it was all very professional I was okay with the few minutes of discomfort but understand that for women of other cultures this could be very uncomfortable, and wish they’d be more culturally sensitive and offer a cover or at least have a female tech in charge of the procedure. Having this x-ray done is an obligatory part of the immigration process and you could be denied the medical certificate (which you need when applying for a carte de séjour) if you don’t do it. I think maybe the one exception would be to have a recent x-ray done elsewhere, with the results from that, but that’s something you’d need to discuss with OFII as I’m not entirely sure they’d accept this. & no problem, don’t hesitate to let me know if you have other questions!
They’re relaxed with naked men on TV as well, not just sexualized women for the male gaze? And are men offered gowns or covers of some sort for various things? I’m genuinely curious because I don’t know. In Spain, you get one. For a gyno exam, who wants to see a stranger rooting around in your vag?! And it is a desexualized, professional medical setting after all.
I’m no expert on the subject/don’t consume a lot of media but have seen nudity of both genders on TV and in magazines. And I don’t know if men are offered some sort of cover – I’m guessing not but maybe I should pose the question to a Frenchman! And at least in my experience, gynos don’t use gowns or covers here. But I’m sure there are some that offer it if you look for it, especially if they regularly treat Americans and other foreigners.
Also, maybe the French are more relaxed about nudity but I doubt someone is going to walk around naked when living with roommates for example (correct me if I’m wrong XD)
That would depend on the roommates I guess 😉 In all honesty I would say no, of course they still set & respect boundaries, but in general I just find the attitude towards nudity to be relaxed here/they’re not prudish about these types of things. For example, it’s visible on magazine covers at news stands, still common to be topless at beaches, etc. But this is just my opinion based on living here for 4 years, observing things, talking to French friends, being in the healthcare system and so on. Maybe other people think differently/have had other experiences so take what I say with a grain of salt.
Here to say nothing has changed. I had my exam today – there’s a male technician who yells “take off your bra” at Muslim women and myself a brown Indian woman.
Whether bodies are sexualized or not, every woman has rights to her body and dignity: both of which were missing in this medical visit.