New arrivals to France are obliged to have two meetings with OFII within their first three months in the country, following the validation of their visa: a medical examination and an interview.
As I’ve already extensively detailed the medical examination process, I decided to follow-up the post with my experience doing the interview, which happened a week later. To repeat the disclaimer on my first OFII-related post, this is just my experience at the OFII offices in Paris, and I’m just sharing it as a way for newcomers to know what to expect and to better prepare for the meetings.
Convocation & Arriving at OFII
After validating your visa on the online portal, you will be sent two convocations by email from OFII within a few weeks of doing so. One is for the medical exam, while the other is for the interview.
Unlike in the past, where you used to be required to bring quite a few additional documents to your interview such as a justificatif domicile, nowadays all you need is to print out the convocation (both pages) and bring it along with your passport or titre de séjour. It is essential that you don’t forget these two documents, as they won’t even let you enter the building without them!
On your convocation, it will state the time and place of your meeting. Mine started at 8H15 in the morning, and as it states that being late is not tolerated and will result in you losing your meeting time, I made sure to be there at least 20 minutes in advance.
There was a queue, but don’t bother to arrive earlier just so you can be in front – everyone else there will be coming for the same group meeting, and so it doesn’t matter where you stand in line, as it won’t have any effect on how soon you have your interview.
Upon arrival I had to go through security, have my convocation and passport triple-checked, and then headed to a classroom with the others, where we had to check in one by one before being seated. Following this, we were given a brief overview of how the half-day would pan out: a brief overview of OFII, a French test, and an individual meeting.
OFII French Test
During the meeting, OFII assesses your French level via a simple written French test, as well as your oral French during the interview. Both will be scored, and a level of A1 must be obtained, otherwise you will be obliged to take French classes (ranging from 100-600 hours). These are free and mandatory to take in order to renew your titre de séjour.
We had 20 minutes to complete a 5-page test, that compromised of 3 question and answer, as well as two short writing exercises.
I won’t go into details of the content of the exam, and can’t promise that yours will be the same format. I will, however, say that it should be easy to fill out if you know basic French. Higher levels will find it excrutiatingly easy – I’m between B2 and C1 and completed it in 10 minutes, and was told by my interviewer I scored 100%. So no need to panic or spend hours studying prior to your meeting with OFII!
Interview with OFII in Paris
Following the test, we were essentially told that the rest of the day would compromise of waiting for our interview. There were around 35 people and 5 interviewers, with each interview taking around 20 minutes. As this means you could be waiting hours, I recommend you do as I did and take a book with you. People were browsing their phones while waiting, but I’m not sure all OFII offices allow this, so bring some backup entertainment to keep you occupied.
I was very lucky and was the third person called (the first time such a thing has ever happened!). I am not sure how they decide who goes first, as I wasn’t one of the first in line outside, and my last name is alphabetically very far down on the list. So I just chalk it up to chance.
My interviewer was very pleasant and told me she spoke both French and English, so we could conduct the interview in either language (though she seemed extra happy that I didn’t mind doing it in French – I suppose it’s quite rare).
We went over my personal information, after which she asked me whether I had a job, whether I had my social security number and a carte vitale, if I’d managed to find a place to rent, and so on. As I’d already been in France for two years at this point, I already had all of this, but she told me that in case I hadn’t she would have provided me with information and resources relevant to my situation, which I found very kind and helpful.
After this, we looked over potential dates for the four civic classes that are mandatory to take in order to get the titre de séjour. They run from 9H until 17H, are available in multiple languages, and are available to take on weekdays or on Saturdays. The first two are spaced out by a few weeks, and then the next two come a month and a half later.
You must receive the certificate certifying you took the first class in order to take the second class, and so on, so be sure to attend all classes, as you’ll need the papers to get into the next one (and will need all four when applying to renew or receive your titre de séjour). My interviewer very kindly helped me find dates that didn’t interfere with my work or vacation dates.
What do these formations comprise of exactly, you may ask? While I haven’t personally attended them yet (but will update my blog when I do), from what I’ve heard the modules tend to cover French history, principles, values, and institutions, as well as practical topics like how to get a job in France.
After choosing the dates for the civic classes, the last thing I had to do was sign the contrat d’accueil et d’intégration and I was free to go!
Once again I find myself commending your tenacity and patience, Katrina! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences through your blog. You’ve take the bloom off my rosy dreams of living in Paris someday, but if I ever do it in earnest I’ll be much better prepared thanks to you. Also, chapeau for having done your interview in French! One more reason why you’re my heroine. 🙂
You’re far too kind! It’s my pleasure to share my experiences – it’s not my intention to discourage people from moving to Paris, but to better inform them of what to expect and to help them navigate the monster that is French bureaucracy and administration. I hope you’ll consider moving here someday! & thank you, I’ve always spoken French but feel it’s improved a lot in the past 2 years. I’m happy that I feel confident and comfortable handling legal and administrative matters in it now. It definitely wasn’t always the case, as I was scared I’d say something wrong and land myself in trouble! But now I’m able to do it without overthinking or being worried. 🙂
Thanks very much for a detailed write up of your experience with Ofii. I, however, received my 2nd convocation ( few days ago and I have my signing contrat d’accueil et d’intégration in a couple of days.
Is there a way I could contact you directly to get some more information regarding the meeting.
Look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you for your comment. I wrote in great detail about this meeting including the signing of the contract in this post – I am not sure what other information I could supply you with?