The OFII Stamp – Completing the Long Term Visa Process

It’s official. We have completed the last step in the long term visa process and are free to stay in France until next summer. What a relief not to have to think about this anymore. This has been on my mind with nearly every travel decision we have made for the last 9 month. Yes, I do worry these things to death.

For those contemplating the quest for a long term visa, I outlined our experience obtaining the actual visa in Washington DC here. The second step is to register with the local OFII office once you have arrived in France. I won’t bother repeating the information given on the official website, but rather give our personal account of what actually happen once we arrived in France.

We mailed the OFII form and required documents – copies of the identity page of our passport, visa and immigration control stamp where we entered the Schengen zone – within days of arriving in France. About a week and half later we received a letter stating that they had received our documents, and another month later received the papers (convocation) with the date of our appointment with our local OFII office in Nîmes which turned out to be three months after our entry into France. Because of travel conflicts I tried to phone the office to get this date changed, but since all change requests need to be mailed in with a new convocation letter mailed back it was easier for us to change our travel plans.

The convocation letter schedules three appointments – the first with the medical clinic for a chest x-ray, and the last two, the medical exam and administrative interview, a half an hour later at the OFII office around the corner from the clinic. Anxious, we arrived early and stopped at a nearby McDonalds for a cup of coffee. At the table next to us an English speaking couple with young children was eating breakfast. Coincidence or are they too heading to the OFII office? They leave a few minutes before us and are checking in at the radiology clinic when we walk in the door.

This step is simple and rather, well, clinical. You check in, wait for your name to be called, go to an exam room with the technician, strip down from the waist up, get the x-ray taken, dress, and wait some more in the waiting room until they give you your x-ray to take to the OFII office. This Friday morning they processed about a dozen foreigners, most of whom were English speaking, American or Canadian, in the short half an hour that we were there.

For the next two appointments the convocation letter lists the required documents. Medical exam: passport; the x-ray that you received at the radiology visit; a vaccination booklet if you have one; glasses and hearing aides if you wear them; medical records if you have been hospitalized within the last year and anything else you think is relevant. Administrative interview: passport; passport photo (nude head); proof that you are living in France, i.e., rent receipt or utility bill in your name; and timbre which is a receipt for taxes paid. The convocation letter includes the website where you can pay the 349 Euro visitor tax and print the necessary timbre.

At the OFII office we check in and are told to wait in the back room. Many of the same faces are already sitting in the waiting room. We strike up a conversation with a young missionary couple sitting next to us. They are based this year in France but were leaving for India and Nepal in two days.  Coincidently we had just returned from India and Nepal. The conversation flew back and forth, easing the nervous tension. None of us knew exactly what was to happen next as we watched the other applicants be called, return, and be called again.

Don and I were called for the medical exam. They ask if we speak French, I hesitate but say, “yes”.  One by one she has us step on the scale and then read the eye chart. She looks at our vaccination booklet, and asks general health questions such as, “Do you smoke and what medications are you taking?” Don had fortuitously prepared a list of medications. Once she finished her notes she took us back to the waiting room and told us we would be called by the doctor. We relayed the details of the exam process to our new young friends.

Next, we’re called in to see the doctor who looks at our x-rays and goes through the notes that the nurse had taken. She asks more specific questions concerning any medical conditions and/or any surgical procedures we may have had. I struggle in French, my medical vocabulary greatly lacking, to describe various medical procedures. Turns out “bypass” in French is only used for the stomach not the heart. Her questions satisfactory answered we return again to the waiting room.

We are called into one last office to go through our file and get the visa validation stamp placed in our passport. A friendly, chatty sort she asks us if we had a chance to talk to the other applicants in the waiting room. Turns out she deliberately calls in all the Americans on one day so they have a chance to meet each other. She looks through our papers and scowls at our rental receipt. “Was this written by an American?” “Non, une Anglaise,” I reply. “That explains it,” she says clarifying that the French wording is very strange. Fortunately it does not hinder the process and after noting a few items in the computer she places the stamps in our passports and we are done!

For links to all the posts in this series see the France page.

6 thoughts

  1. Hi! I’m aware this post is 3 years old, but could you explain what the OFII office was looking for in a rent receipt? Just proof of payment of rent, or is this something specific/more detailed than that?

    1. Hi Aliyah, If I recall correctly we had to show a lease as proof that we had a place to live while we were in France. Since our landlords were British our lease was in English and we got them to provide a rent receipt in French rather than getting the lease translated which satisfied the proof of housing requirement.

  2. Hello
    I was given an appointment date of 3rd July and I went in for my appointment but as house contract was not in my name they dint accept it and asked me to come when I have my name in the contract .I won’t be getting the contract before 2nd week in September, should I go and inform them or is there a deadline?
    As I don’t speak french it’s hard to explain the situation to them and they don’t really speak or understand English,

    1. Hi Mili nair, I’m sorry I don’t know if there is a deadline. I would suggest finding a French speaker to help you negociate this situation. I hope all goes well.

  3. Hello, Apologies for questioning an old (and very helpful) post, but I assume you had a long-stay visitor visa? I had my medical exam today and now I have to wait for my OFII appointment. It doesn’t sound like you had any language tests….am I to understand those are required for different visas? Thank you!

    1. No apologies necessary. I’m just afraid my information isn’t very current. Yes we got long term visitors visas and there was no language requirement at the time. I don’t know about other visas or what they currently do for visitors visas. Good luck and I hope everything goes well.

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