Sunday, September 14, 2014

How to renew your au pair visa

So if you've decided that you just love being an au pair and everything that comes with it (free housing and transportation, the opportunity to experience another culture, having a constant and unrelenting headache, etc.), then you are probably thinking about renewing your visa like I did. I'm going to explain how I renewed mine in Paris, but note that the process is different in every city. France doesn't like to make things easy.

First of all, if you are planning on staying more than a year, make sure you've been doing everything right. This means going to school (okay really just paying for school) and going to your OFII appointment. If  you don't know what OFII is, then you fucked up, and you need to get your shit together ASAP. As for school, you will need documentation that you've been going to class and that you've received a grade. The school I went to gave everyone the same grade and attendance for the most part, so you don't have to worry too much if you've missed a few classes.

Okay, so you've been going to your classes and you've already gotten your little OFII sticker, so you're good to go so far. No more than two months before the expiration of your visa, you will need to make an appointment on the prefecture website. If you're in Paris, your appointment will be at Porte de Clignancourt a.k.a. the worst place in the world. I recommend making the earliest appointment possible and getting there before it opens. Student visas all tend to expire around the same time, so you do not want to be stuck there all day.

Because of all the required documents, I would suggest getting them together at least one month before your appointment. You will probably have to harass your French family to give you some of the paperwork, so you may as well start early. Here's the page (click on the link that says "renouvellement d'un titre de sejour etudiant") from the prefecture website of what you will need. I have put together a list in English of what au pairs will specifically need (I will go into detail about some of them after):

  1. Your original birth certificate + one copy
  2. A certified translation of your birth certificate + one copy
  3. Your DIRECCTE contract from the previous year + one copy
  4. Your DIRECCTE contract for the upcoming year + one copy
  5. Proof of housing (given to you by your host family)
  6. Grades/attendance from previous year + one copy
  7. Your "inscription definitive" for the upcoming school year + one copy
  8. Copies of your ID page of your passport, your French visa, and your OFII stamp
  9. 49 euros worth of timbres fiscaux that you can buy from any tabac
  10. Three passport photos
So let me point out that your new DIRRECTE contract does not need to be approved or stamped to go to your initial appointment at the prefecture. They will give you a receipt that will serve as a temporary visa for at least two months after the expiration of the original. After you receive your contract from DIRRECTE, you will then go back and get your fancy laminated Titre de Sejour (oh la la). With this you will feel so fucking French, you'll suddenly want to start protesting something - it's not important what, you just want everyone to know that one of them now, kinda.

For the translation of my birth certificate, I used a woman named Karen King. She only charges 35 euros, but did completely forget to send it to me. She was very nice about it and sent it out the day after I reminded her, but make sure you stay on top of it.

Also, you can take your passport pictures at any metro station in one of those little photo booths. It's only 5 euros for 6 pictures which I think is a pretty good deal considering how expensive it was in the US.

So that's what you'll need to renew your visa. It's not fun, and it can be complicated at times, but hang in there. The actual appointment(s) actually aren't so bad, so don't stress out like I did. Surprisingly everyone was really nice and patient with my broken French.

I feel like I've forgotten something, but I can't think of anything else. All and all, it took about 5 to 6 months for me to renew my visa, and now it's FINALLY over. If you have any questions or corrections, please leave a comment. I will do my best to help you with anything you need!