Today I had my medical visit at OFII (Office Français de l’Immigration et l’Intégration). In all of the research I did before coming to France, I found many tales of the dreaded OFII appointment. Reading these tales made me nervous for the day I would finally have to go through the appointment myself. After sending in a ridiculous amount of paperwork and documents (and by sending in I mean bring them to the first orientation day and they will mail them in for you), you receive a letter telling you when your appointment is*. I read many dire warnings about the importance of making it to the appointment on time, not missing the appointment, and not trying to reschedule the appointment. In hindsight, these are all reasonable requests, but in the months leading up to my departure for France these warnings seemed ominous. Then the anecdotes arrived at the details of the actual appointment, culminating in the infamous chest x-ray which requires you to remove your shirt and bra and, judging by the accounts I read, parade around the exam room while the doctor just stares on.
Let me reassure you that this appointment was the most un-french thing that has happened since arriving in France – there were no problems at all! The appointment went smoothly, all of my paperwork had already been organized, stamped and reviewed by the staff, and every single person working in the office from the security guard at the door, to both nurses, the doctor, and finally the secretaries, were amazingly kind and friendly! This was the complete opposite of what I expected.
The process is as follows: The security guard calls you into the office from the hallway, you show your passport to the secretary at the front desk. You then proceed to a waiting room in the back of the office. There will likely be around twenty other people there with you, some of them being fellow assistants. Ask around to find out which assistants have the same appointment times as yourself – you can plan to travel there together. Once you are in the waiting room, groups of 4-5 people are called to proceed down to the other end of the hallway. One by one you will be called into the exam room to get the chest x-ray. Then you will be called in to see the nurse, who asked me if I had any questions about the secu (sécurité sociale) process/requirements. The nurse takes your height and weight, then you go back out into the hallway before going in to speak to the doctor. I had brought copies of my immunization records but didn’t end up needing them. The doctor asked a few medical history questions, said “everything is okay for me, just return to the first waiting room and you will be done.” You are then called into another office by a woman who places the sticker in your passport et voila ! You have the option to speak English or French. You are also provided with a changing room and a gown before getting the chest x-ray. Furthermore, the doctor took an interest in everyone she saw today, asking where we were working, how we liked the schools we were working in, and asking about our plans for the future.
The biggest downside to the appointment in my opinion was the location. It was a bit difficult to find and I had to take the unfortunate bus line 9. The 9 is one of the worst lines in Nice. Thus, all in all, my OFII appointment wasn’t half bad.
*Side note: I did not receive the convocation paperwork with the date and time of my appointment, as well as the documents you are expected to bring with you. These packets were mailed out to the schools and the secretary should have distributed them to the assistants. Before receiving an appointment date, you will receive a letter confirming reception of all of your dossier with a dossier number. If you hear of other assistants receiving notification of their appointment dates and you haven’t heard anything back, contact either OFII or the rectorate. I sent an email to the contact person for the alpes-maritimes assistants and she sent out a new copy of the paperwork for me, in addition to a pdf copy that she emailed to me.