December 3, 2016 by Crescentine
A carte de séjour (CDS) or titre de séjour is the official residency card in France. You must have a long-stay visa (Type D) in order to receive a CDS. The long stay visa that you will receive as the spouse of a French citizen makes you eligible for a carte de séjour (CDS) or titre de séjour. If you are an EU citizen, then you do not need to have a visa nor a CDS.
The carte de séjour (CDS) or titre de séjour must be renewed EVERY year, 2-3 months before the last one expires. In the case of your first application, you must schedule and submit your application before your long stay type D visa expires or else,
you have to leave France and re-do the process of applying for the visa and the residency card all over again. As of 2017, instead of having to go back to your home country to re-apply for a new long stay visa, you just have to pay an extra EUR 180 at the prefecture. We don’t want that!
So, you successfully received your long stay spouse visa and you just arrived in France. What to do next?
Step 1. Send your application form “Demande d’attestation OFII” to the nearest OFII office.
You have to do this as soon as you arrive in France. Do not wait, send it right away because you have to wait for approximately 2 months from the date you sent it to the nearest OFII office to receive a scheduled date when you will be processed.
All the OFII procedures have to be finished within the first three months that you are in France.
The application form should be part of the requirements submitted to the French embassy when applying for the long stay spouse visa. This will be stamped by the consulate and returned to you.
Fill in the bottom half of the application form with the date of your arrival in France and your visa number. Photocopy your passport and the visa along with the arrival stamps from the airport and send this to the nearest OFII office where you live. For the list of OFII offices, please refer to the list given by the French embassy along with the application form or click on this link to find out.
Send it by mail using the services of La Poste (It’s France’s version of PhilPost albeit more efficient) or any courier service of your choice. It is better to ask for the letter to be sent “recommandée” which just means that they will track the letter for you and send you a confirmation letter that your mail was well-received. In case of loss, they will also be held responsible to track it down for you. For very important documents such as this, it’s better to pay a little bit more for security which will cost you around EUR 11.
The letter should be received by the OFII office the next business day and the confirmation slip will be sent to you around 3 days from the day you sent it. The OFII will also send you a confirmation letter “Attestation de réception du formulaire de demande d’attestation OFII” one week after they receive your mail, keep this letter safe because this will serve as your proof that they received your letter should they forget to give you your scheduled processing date (yes, it happens).
After approximately 2 months, you will receive another letter by mail from the OFII wherein they will give you your scheduled date for processing your application, the requirements along with a medical exam, French language exam and formal signing of the contract of integration into the French republic. You will also receive many important documents, formation services, information on life in France such as social security, employment, public service and so on.
The requirements for holders of long stay spouse visas are, although this might be different for other OFII offices:
- Your passport
- A French passport-sized photo of your face (no hats, make up or jewelry)
- Proof of domicile which can be a lease / rental contract or gas, electricity, landline phone bill in your name, or if you don’t have any, an “Attestation d’hébergement” written by whoever is accommodating you in France along with a copy of their official ID(s) and their gas, electricity or landline phone bill.
- Medical certificate and x-ray results, if you have done the medical visit prior to your arrival in France.
- EUR 250 that can be paid online on www.timbresofii.fr using a credit or debit card, remember to print the resulting document.
All this is not for free of course, be prepared to pay around EUR 250 or PHP 13,000 which can be paid online via credit or debit card.
Step 2. Go to the OFII office on your scheduled processing date.
I went to the nearest OFII office in Rennes in the region of Bretagne located at 8 rue Jean Julien Lemordant 35000 Rennes, France. It’s a bit difficult to find so I recommend using waze or GPS applications. We have a car so I don’t know how to get there via public transportation, it’s better to ask someone to drive you there.
The office opened exactly at 9AM which makes it quite difficult if you have to wait outside especially if you arrived in the winter season, so cold! I believe it’s the same for all OFII offices and government offices for that matter.
There was no one when I arrived at 8:30AM but soon the number of people grew and since I was one of the first, I was immediately entertained and asked to go upstairs to the waiting room. Kindly note that you must do this alone (even if you do not speak any French) and no one can accompany you, not even family members.
We waited in the room for everyone to arrive, we were about 15 in total and were all from different countries. Pretty cool to see / meet other foreigners! Soon enough, a lady arrived to give the introduction in French which lasted 15 minutes. If you do not speak French yet, then I already feel so bad for you because the entire session will be in French whether you like it or not.
She asked for our full name, nationality and how long we have been in France. Ideally, you should respond in French but if you can’t, I believe they should know how to speak in English. She announced afterwards that there will be a written French language exam (Level A1, the most basic level) and any one who has done at least 3 years of schooling in France are exempted.
We started the written exam afterwards, a 6-page exam worth 50 points, which lasted for 20 minutes. Don’t worry if you don’t pass the exam, this just means an extra formation will be added to your requirements: 200 hours of French language lessons! Hurray!
After the exam, you will be called one by one to either attend the medical exam which consists of an x-ray, a consultation with a nurse and another consultation with a doctor. Or the administrative discussion wherein you will sign the integration contract, receive the dates for your next full-day formations or information seminars as I would like to call them (formation civique, formation acces aux services publiques and the 200 hours of French language lessons, if you didn’t pass the written exam) your visa will also be officially validated by the OFII with a vignette on your passport making you officially eligible for the Carte de séjour or titre de séjour.
After your visit at the OFII, you may now register with the Pôle Emploi to start looking for employment (if you don’t have one yet) and also, apply for your social security number with l’Assurance Maladie. I will make a separate post for this later!
My formations for formation civique et formation acces aux services publique will be in January 2017. I’ll update this post on how it goes!
Step 3. Attend the required OFII formation seminars.
UPDATE: I attended the formation civique and formation access aux services publique last January 2017.
By this time, I hope you’ve improved your French because you’re about to attend two seminars in French lasting for several hours and it can be quite difficult if you don’t understand, and quite enjoyable if you do! Nonetheless, there should be translators present if you require it.
Make sure to bring your documents and passport to present to the facilitator. Learn a bit of French, mostly how to introduce yourself, where you come from, how long you’ve been in France and your profession as you will most likely be asked to. Also, I recommend that you eat breakfast as the morning will be long! Don’t be late!
The first one was like a crash course on the history of France both modern and medieval, an introduction to how the government works, the foundations of the constitution, their views on religion and so on. Very interesting stuff if you’re into history and current affairs, I personally enjoyed it very much!
It lasted for 6 hours, I think it takes a bit longer if there are attendees who don’t speak French thus needing some extra time for translation purposes. Food and drinks were provided (tasted pretty good too!)
I attended the second one a week later, same drill. The information given was more practical such as how to find a job, where to start and the different offices that will aid you in job searching. They also inform you how the healthcare system works in France, the transport system and so on. Very useful! This one lasted a bit longer, 7 hours with no translators present.
After the second seminar, proof of attendance was distributed to everyone there and that is the last requirement that you have to do with the OFII. Make sure to make scanned copies of your documents because you will be needing them for the years to come up until you demand for the French nationality!
If you we’re required to attend French classes, you would also need the certificate provided by OFII that you completed all 200 required hours.
Step 4. Four months before your long stay visa expires, schedule a rendezvous at the prefecture for the Carte de Séjour.
The next step is to schedule an appointment on the prefecture website of the region where you reside. They say get a schedule two months before the expiration date of your visa but I recommend getting a schedule four months ahead because the slots fill up fast!
I went on the website on the 15th of May and only got an appointment on the 28th of August, that was the soonest date and my visa is expiring in mid-September. Imagine if I only went on the website two months ahead of the expiration date! Know that as long as your appointment falls before the expiration date of your visa, you’re A-okay!
Otherwise, you would have to pay EUR 180 if you have your application AFTER your visa expires. Let’s play it safe, shall we?
You will be given a récépissé valid for 3 months after your prefecture appointment which will be your temporary CDS until you get your permanent card.