My Experience with OFII Civic Courses in Paris

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Since my arrival in France with my new salarié visa, I’ve written about both the OFII interview and medical examination. Having just completed my fourth and final mandatory civic course this week, I decided what better time to wrap up my series on the French immigration obligations with OFII?

As of March 2019, OFII changed the structure of its civic courses from two days of lectures to three days of lectures as well as one atelier or workshop. As my other foreign friends in Paris had gone through the old system, I had no idea what to expect of the new four-part program.

While it will undoubtedly differ depending on course location and teachers, I decided to provide a brief recap of each of my days with OFII, which resulted in my getting the four certificates of completion necessary to my visa renewal in spring 2020, during which I’ll receive a 4-year carte de séjour!

Day 1 – Introduction

As my address is registered in inner-city Paris, the convocation that I received during my OFII interview took me to Montreuil. The courses are run by AFCI, an organization that professors told me are associated with OFII but who run other types of formations besides the immigration ones as well.

The convocation stated I had to arrive at 8h45 sharp, with no lateness tolerated. The only documents I was requested to bring were my passport and aforementioned convocation, but I brought my folder of OFII documents, a notebook, and a pen just in case, with all coming in handy throughout the day.

Once in the building, you’ll be called upon based on what day of the course you’re on and whether you’re in a special language class. If you requested a translator during your initial interview with OFII, you’ll be given one who will translate the material taught by the French-speaking teacher. I ended up in the English course, as that had been the only option for my availability (Saturdays). I’ve heard that Arabic and Spanish classes are also common.

AFCI seemed quite disorganized on the first day, to be honest. Neither our teacher nor the translator showed up, with one of the AFCI administrative employees ending up teaching us during the morning portion of the class (which finally start after 10h30!). An English-speaking translator was found for the afternoon, thankfully, as being the only person who spoke both French and English in my class, I had had to do much of the translation that morning.

During the first day, we were given a brief overview of OFII and the aims of the civic courses (integration and familiarizing yourself with French laws and societal norms, mainly). We also touched on life in France in the afternoon, but that topic was explored in further detail on Day 2. We were let out by 16h, with an hour and a half long lunch break in between, during which a basic meal of tuna pasta, bread, and apple sauce had been provided for us (though you have the right to decide to eat out if you prefer).

Overall I found the day quite stressful, but was just glad to have my certificate of completion for Day 1!

Day 2 – Life in France

My second day of civic courses came around two weeks after the first – again on a Saturday. We were requested to bring the same documents and arrive at the same time as the first day.

While I anticipated the worst, the second day ended up being much more well-structured and I can truthfully say that I learned a lot. While we still had a MIA translator in the morning, our teacher that day was fluent in both English and French and changed throughout the morning as there were francophones in the English class as well.

We went in-depth into topics such as women’s rights, parental rights, social security, healthcare, emergency services, anti-discrimination services, housing, applying for cartes de séjour, and even applying for nationality! We were even given some helpful addresses and phone numbers, which I really appreciated.

Like the first day, we left a little before 17h, and had a lunch break with the same tuna salad combination as last time. It was noted to us that the meals are bland but adhere to all religious and cultural diets, so that everyone can consume them, which I found very thoughtful.

At the end of the day we were given our certificate of completion for Day 2, as well as were handed a convocation for the third class. While my first two classes had taken place in June 2019, my third was scheduled for the beginning of September. I’m not sure if this is because of the summer break, or if it’s typical to have multi-month breaks between Days 1 & 2 and 3 & 4. Unlike the first two, which had taken place on Saturdays, the third was to take place on a Tuesday.

Unfortunately having work that day was not a good enough excuse to reschedule to a weekend course – they only accept plane tickets or something of that nature. I had a few classmates who tried to call and change afterwards, but didn’t succeed in even getting in touch, as a result I’d recommend not trying to change the convocation unless absolutely necessary, as it seems rather difficult to get ahold of AFCI let alone provide justification strong enough to change the date.

Finally, before leaving, we were asking to complete a feuille de route which had to include three objectives to achieve by the next course, based on your immigration or integration needs in France. Examples included register with Pôle d’Emploi or updating your French CV if you needed to find a job, submitting your dossier to CPAM if you still didn’t have a French social security number, and so on.

As I’d already been living in France for 2 1/2 at that point, and had already done most administrative things, I personally went with 1) Visiting a museum close to me, 2) Signing up for a library card, and 3) Going to my Mairie to find out about cultural activities or sports.

Day 3 – History of France & Recap

During the multi-month break, I had completed all three objectives in preparation for the third class. I brought evidence of having accomplished them with me to the AFCI center, along with the requisite convocation and passport. Though in the end, it was all for naught, as like the first day there were major delays and we were left with little time to even learn that day’s material and write the exam, let alone check everyone’s feuille de route.

On the third day we changed classrooms twice before starting, and had a last-minute teacher assigned to us as well as an English translator, who typically only translated into Spanish or Japanese.

After the French teacher began to teach us about France’s history, it became rather evident that the translator did not speak English fluently, as she ended up mistranslating quite a few sections. It did not bother me as I was only listening to the French lesson and not the translator, but I think it was a shame for those who didn’t understand any French as it meant they were receiving some incorrect information.

After covering France’s history from medieval times to the Fifth Republic, we broke for lunch before returning for the afternoon portion of the class that was a recap of the material we learned in Days 1 & 2, as well as a short exam. For those worried about the prospect of an exam, don’t fret: It wasn’t graded and had no affect on whether or not you’d receive your certificate for Day 3.

After receiving our certificates, we were given dates and topics for workshops that would make up Day 4. We had a choice of three different topics, with limited spaces available for each: A workshop on how to apply for jobs in France and French work culture; a cultural visit to a museum; and a workshop where we’d learn about French cuisine and be able to bake or cook something ourselves.

Some of the workshop dates were as early as being a few days after Day 3, with others being towards the end of the month. I ended up opting for the French cuisine option as I’m very interested in French cuisine, and living in a little Parisian studio, I have no oven and was excited at the prospect of being able to use one!

Day 4 – Atelier

Day 4 took me Ile-St-Louis, where the workshop took place in the kitchens of a foyer des jeunes travailleuses. Like the previous three days, we were asked to come at 8h45 sharp. For the first time, the timing was strict – while at AFCI classes would begin hours after they were meant to, for the workshop the teacher was making sure we all arrived on time, and those who arrived late were sent back to AFCI to reschedule for another workshop.

Unlike the previous courses, which always offered a translator, at the workshop there was none. We were asked to introduce ourselves in French, and the teacher got rather testy with those who weren’t able to, which I found quite strange as many were newcomers from non-francophone countries and one wouldn’t expect them to have mastered the language after only a few months.

After the introductions, we headed straight to the kitchen, where we instructed to make a simple French pâtisserie: sablés fourrés au chocolat noir. It was easy but fun, and while we baked the teacher gave us some information on French baking tactics, how to properly weigh ingredients, and what types of chocolate to look out for. The end result were hundreds of dark chocolate-filled cookies, which we were able to package up and bring home afterwards.

Following the morning of baking we sat down for lunch (even if far from Montreuil, we still received OFII’s famous tuna pasta salad!), and then collected our certificates and cookies before being sent on our way at 14h – three hours earlier than anticipated.

My final verdict: The workshop was definitely my favourite of the four courses, and while the courses themselves do have major organizational issues that need sorting out, I did pick up some useful information that I was able to apply to my own immigration and integration process. And having successfully completed all four courses, with certificates to prove it, I’m now well-equipped for my renewal at the prefecture where I’ll finally get my longed-for multiyear carte de séjour!


  1. bonjour j’ai 3 em jour rdv mais j’ai un problème ma maison mon père était mort alors je vais en inde je manque mon 3 em jour rdv vous avez une solution s’il vous plait je vous remercierai


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