Reader question: How long should it take between validating a VLS-TS long-stay visa and the Ofii interview? My husband validated his visa a month ago and we have not heard anything yet.
The VLS-TS is the most common kind of long-stay visa used by Connexion readers moving to France.
It has to be ‘validated’ online within the first three months.
Most holders of these visas are then invited by the French Office for Immigration and Integration (Ofii) to a visite d’accueil (reception visit) and/or a medical.
Certain people, such as retirees on a visiteur status visa, only need the medical at present, though it is possible this may change in future, as France’s new immigration law calls for everyone to sign some form of agreement to respect French values, which might involve a visit to Ofii.
This new agreement would, however, not be identical to the republican integration contract explained below.
In many other cases, notably where people are coming to work in France, newcomers to the country will also be asked to come for a half-day visite d’accueil, which will include an interview during which they sign a republican integration contract and take a language proficiency test.
If you have not heard from the Ofii within 45 days of confirmation of your visa being validated, then you should send a letter to the relevant Ofii office with a copy of your passport (information and visa pages) and the confirmation of visa validation.
The relevant Ofii office is the one closest to your address. You can find the list of the 31 offices here and enter your postcode to know which one is yours.
What happens during these days?
Three main things will happen during these half-days: a language test, a personalised interview with an Ofii agent and the signing of the republican integration contract.
If your French level of knowledge is found to be below A1, the most basic level of understanding, then you must agree to take free lessons to improve your French (between 100 and 600 hours).
A1 includes, for example, being able to introduce yourself, ask and answer basic questions and being able to communicate in a simple way if the person you are talking to speaks slowly and clearly.
Note that France’s new immigration law includes some toughening of rules relating to language requirements for people applying for certain residency cards or French nationality.
It is possible that, linked to this, the relevant level in these Ofii tests could be raised to the slightly higher A2, though this has yet to be clarified.
You will then have a one-on-one interview with an Ofii agent. You will go over your personal and administrative situation and evaluate your needs.
If necessary, they will direct you to nearby services that will facilitate your integration into French society.
They will also present you with the terms of the republican integration contract and explain the four-day training you must complete related to this. The contract requires agreeing to certain French ‘values’ such as freedom of speech and belief, equality of men and women etc.
The four-day training (which is spread out over a period of about four months) is mandatory for anyone who signs the contract and covers topics such as the French institutions, health, work and housing.
What happens after the interview?
After you have completed the required training you will be invited to the Ofii for an end of contract interview to review what you have learnt.
If you respect the terms of the contract, including attending language classes ‘assiduously’ if required, and are not considered to have disrespected the values of the French republic and French society, when you come to apply for a residency card to prolong your visa you may be granted a ‘multi-year’ version (up to four years’ duration).
If there is doubt as to your integration or commitment to language learning, a one-year card may be given instead.
In future, the new immigration law states, however, that it will not be possible to renew a one-year card more than three times. Furthermore, in future achieving level A2 will be needed to obtain a multi-year card.