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OFII: Your questions answered on France’s immigration office

If you're a foreigner arriving in France you may be required to register with the immigration office (OFII), take a medical examination, language classes and 'integration' sessions.

OFII: Your questions answered on France's immigration office

The Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration (Office of Immigration and integration, more usually known simply as OFII) is a necessary first step for some new arrivals in France, without which you are not legally resident in the country. 

It can be quite a daunting process, with a compulsory medical check and if office staff feel that your French isn’t good enough they can order you to attend language classes.

If we tell you that we once attended a Paris Halloween party where a group of people created a costume of ‘the OFII’, you get the general idea . . .

Who has to do this?

Not all new arrivals have to interact with OFII – we’re talking here about non-EU nationals who arrive in France with a long-stay visa known as VLS-TS, or visa de long séjour valant titre de séjour (ie they intend to live here).

EU nationals do not need to visit OFII, and neither do people with short-term visitor visas (visa de long séjour temporaire visiteur) such as second home owners. If you’re already in France with a carte de séjour residency card, in most cases you will not need to get involved with OFII. 

When you receive your visa, you will get instructions on what to do next and in most cases this involves registering with OFII within three months of your arrival. This is important, as your visa is not valid if you do not complete the registration process.

READ ALSO Getting a French visa: What paperwork comes next? 

How do I register?

As of 2019, registering with OFII is done via an online procedure. Within three months of arriving in France, once you have an address, you must declare your presence to OFII. Start by going to the government website for ‘Direction Générale des Étrangers en France’ (DGEF), next you click ‘Je valide mon VLS-TS‘.

Once you have done this, you will be shown a list of the visa types where validation is required. Enter the number attached to your visa and then click ‘confirmer mon numéro de visa‘. 

Follow the subsequent instructions on the screen, which will include paying a fee of around €200, and be sure to not to discard the confirmation that the visa was validated. 

If you have travel plans to exit the Schengen zone, this procedure should be done prior to that.

What next?

This isn’t just an online process, the next steps involve an in-person visit with a medical appointment.

Once you have validated your visa, in the following weeks (or months) you will receive by post a convocation from the OFII requiring you to come in to complete a medical exam. This is a standard requirement – typically the examination itself involves an eye test, checking your weight/height, a lung X-ray and a general doctor visit with some routine questions.

After completion, you will be given a ‘certificat de contrôle médical‘. Be sure to hold onto this document, as you may need it for future residency permit renewals. 

Depending on the office, it can be difficult to reschedule the appointment so it is best to keep the date assigned. If you absolutely cannot attend the date provided, you can contact the location listed on your convocation, by email or phone, to request it be rescheduled. 

What about the contrat d’intégration républicaine?

OFII may also contact you regarding the ‘integration contract’ (contrat d’intégration républicaine), as well as for civics and language courses – but not everyone with a long-stay visa is subject to this.

The most common groups called for this are people on a spouse or family visa.

If you have a visitor visa, or a student or intern, or have temporary or posted worker status, then you will not usually be asked to sign the contrat d’intégration républicaine. 

If you receive the convocation, then you will be expected to meet with OFII personnel who will assess your needs and determine which training courses to assign you, depending on your individual situation.

You will take a written and oral test to determine if your French level is beyond A1 (beginner level) – if it is not, then you may be assigned language courses. Some visa-holders in France have reported being assigned between 100 and 200 hours of (free) language classes by OFII. 

You will also be signed up for four days worth of civic training (a total of 24 hours) as well as an exit-interview.

OFII says the purpose of these steps are to help foreigners integrate into life in France.

If you don’t receive the convocation for this step, you can request one (it’s not compulsory but the free language classes and offers of training can be quite useful if you have just arrived in France).

Fill out this request form and attach a copy (of both sides) of your visa or residency permit. Then send (by post) the documents to your regional OFII office – the bureau de l’accueil et de l’intégration.

What if I never heard back from OFII after validating by visa?

If you have an issue with validating your visa online, you can send a message using the contact form on the DGEF website. You can specify that your concern is related to the validation of your visa. 

In the absence of a reply from OFII within 45 days of validation, the office recommends that you send a copy of your passport showing both your biographical information page, as well as the visa page, and the confirmation that your VLS-TS was validated by post to your local OFII office.

You can find the office closest to you on the OFII website here.

Is this just a one-time thing?

Yes, the OFII registration is required when you first move to France. After you have made the initial move you will need to regularly renew your visa/residency permits to ensure your remain legally resident in France, but renewals generally do not require another visit to OFII.

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Moving to France: Language tests, new immigration law and jobs for non French-speakers

Moving to France - a country famous for its complicated bureaucracy - can be a daunting task. Fortunately, our new newsletter is here to answer your questions - this month we're looking at new immigration plans, acquiring language skills and healthcare.

Moving to France: Language tests, new immigration law and jobs for non French-speakers

Here at The Local we’re an Anglo-American team living in France – which means all of us have been through the simultaneously exciting and terrifying process of moving countries.

Our new newsletter is aimed at people who are in the process of moving, have recently moved and are still grappling with the paperwork or perhaps are just thinking about it – and we’ll share a monthly selection of practical tips. Our team is also available to answer questions from subscribers to The Local.

Let’s start with some news that I know has been worrying people who plan to move to France some day – the new French immigration bill.

The bill is currently making its way through parliament, with a lot of accompanying political drama and some very headline-grabbing amendments from Senators (most of which have now been scrapped).

This seems to be one of those cases where the political drama is in inverse proportion to the actual content of the bill – because it really doesn’t contain a lot that would affect people moving to France. We’ve done a complete breakdown HERE.

It won’t immediately affect new arrivals – but one thing that the bill does contain is a proposal for compulsory language tests in order to gain the long-term residency card (which usually happens after four or five years of residency, depending on your personal situation). We have a guide on exactly what language level would be required and a quiz so you can test yourself against the required standard. 

Language skills

I’m often asked how easy it is to move to France if you don’t speak any French at all. Ideally you would do some studying before arriving, but sometimes circumstances dictate a move while your French is still at a basic level (full disclosure – my French was extremely rudimentary when I first arrived).

Here’s a look at how easy it is to move to France if you don’t speak French – and what jobs you could do while you learn. 

Staying healthy

The other big concern for many people is healthcare – specifically how to access care in France, and whether you need to pay for expensive health insurance in order to move.

In good news, the French system is pretty generous – you can register in the French public health system after three months of residency and the state covers around 70 percent of medical costs, depending on circumstances. It’s worth pointing out, however, that the registration process itself can be lengthy – it’s not unusual to wait a year for your first carte vitale health card.

What you do in the meantime – and what health cover you need in order to get a visa – depends on your country of origin. 

Brits can use their EHIC or GHIC European health card as proof of medical cover, although it’s advised to get a short private health insurance policy too as there are things not covered by the European health card.

If you’re moving from an EU country you would be covered by the reciprocal EU health agreements between member states, but if you’re moving from the USA you will need private cover for your first few months in France (and not all American health insurance covers treatments outside of the US). 


The Local’s Reader Questions section covers questions our members have asked us and is a treasure trove of useful info on all kinds of practical matters. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, head here to leave us your questions.

Bon courage !