So are you ready for this rad guide to finalizing our long stay visitor visa?! Here we go… Once you arrive in Paris at the airport you must go through customs and you get your passport/visa stamped with a date. We arrived in Paris on March 2, 2018. Wow, feels like years ago.
This dated stamp is very important because it is your ticking time bomb to finalizing your visa. You get 90 days from the date of that stamp to send your OFII (French Office for Immigration and Integration) application and a copy of your stamped visa. Then you wait patiently for your convocation letters. Convocation is a fancy word for a letter summoning you to complete your visa process. You usually will get two letters for two separate appointments.
Once you get the letter in the mail you will get an appointment for a medical exam. This appointment is outside of Paris but our Metro passes worked fine. We were lucky to get our appointment scheduled for 10:30 am. I was dreading a 8:00 am appointment which would mean we would have to bring Olivia with us so she was in school. It took about 45 minutes to get there and we arrived an hour early. We stood in line outside and after waiting about 40 minutes Antz realized we were waiting in the refugees seeking asylum line. Whoopsie. If you have an appointment you just go to the door and show the security guard your letter.
This appointment is to get a chest x-ray to prove you don’t have tuberculosis (how is that still a thing?) we also had our blood drawn, had a quick medical questionnaire with a doctor and did I mention I had to be topless TWICE?!
I knew I would have to take my shirt off for the chest x-ray but I thought I could leave my bra on. We had to navigate the whole appointment with our terrible French and there seemed to be only a few doctors who spoke English. I reluctantly disrobed and went into a room with no female doctor as I anticipated, but a tiny male doctor who was intent on having a conversation with me about the Royal Wedding while I held my boobs awkwardly.
He tells me to stand in front of the x-ray machine and press my boobs into the screen. I’m like, okay anything to stay in Paris, I guess? He then tells me to put my arms down and put my necklace in my mouth so it won’t show up in the x-ray. Then he asks me if I attended the royal wedding? Do I personally know Meghan Markle because she is from Los Angeles? Then he tried to make me answer these annoying questions with my Olivia necklace in my mouth while I tried to keep my boobs on a metal x-ray machine. This really happened. This doctor was as tall as Olivia and he was one of the only English speaking doctors. I heard him say the exact same thing to the woman who went in next. She sounded more amused than I was.
So after I survived that trauma, I went into another room. There was a doctor who doesn’t speak English. He weighed me (I’ve lost 10 pounds!!) measured my height, gave me an eye test and drew my blood (ouchie). He was amazing with sign language so I understood everything. Then sent me to go wait again.
The last room is another take off your top area and then you walk into a small office. This time I kept my bra on because I was feeling like an unpaid prostitute. I casually sat down and spoke to a handsome doctor who had to use Google to translate our conversation. He explained that I was healthy, asked me some questions and stamped a certificate stating I was all good. He checked my heartbeat which is why I needed my shirt off. So ladies, wear a nice bra because you want to impress!
Then it was over. Hooray!
The front desk gives you the signed and stamped medical certificates and then you take the long, hot bus back into Paris. The funny thing is, the city we were in had this modern tram so we wanted to try to take it back into Paris. We hopped on and noticed we were heading further away from Paris so we took it back to the original station.
The Health Exam office is:
221 Avenue Pierre Brossolette
Our next appointment was a week later, also scheduled for 10:00 am. This OFII office was located in the 11th so it was close by. This time we knew to walk right in. We waited in a room for about a half an hour and listened to the three clerks interact with the people. Most of the people waiting spoke French but the few that spoke English ended up with the guy clerk. There was a mean lady and a nice-sounding lady. After hearing the mean lady, we crossed our fingers we would be called by the nice one. Luckily, she called my name! She asked for my paperwork and only spoke French. Since we hired a visa consultant, I knew everything she would ask for so it was easy to understand. She accepted all my paperwork and didn’t have any issues. She asked me if my husband was here and I called Antz over. He handed over his papers and she told me to relax and breathe as she stamped our visas.
I have never said Merci more in my life. I was so happy! Guess what? Five months before March (October) we get to start the process all over again for our renewal!
We decided to celebrate by going to lunch at one of the most touristy places in Paris.
I was feeling officially French but then we got a waiter who didn’t have time for me ordering in French. I literally was saying “Je voudrais oeufs avec frommage et un croissant beurre.” He then impatiently said “What do you want?” Le Sigh.
I am destined to never speak French.
This is what we brought to our visa appointment:
Proof of residence (lease agreement or housing attestation)
The clerk asked if we had a utility bill in our name but our utilities are included in our rent so she said okay.
Medical certificate (this is why you need to go to the first appointment)
I’ve also heard some people may need to bring a vaccination chart, they just asked me if I was vaccinated for tetanus and I said yes when I was pregnant with Olivia.
Passport with your stamped visa (I still hate the picture the LA French consulate took)
Another passport size photo (remember when I bought $96 worth of visa photos?)
A receipt showing you paid your tariffs. Our timbres were €250 each. Children do not have to attend this appointment or pay a tariff.
Here is a straightforward list of what you need to apply for a long stay visa.
The address to send your OFII application and stamped visa is:
48 rue de la Roquette
75011 Paris, France
Here is a recap of our Los Angeles visa experience, please ask me anything in the comments.