Civics Requirement for your French Visa
So you're in France and you've had your appointment at the prefecture to sign the CIR (contract d'integration republicaine) and you're notified that you will have to complete a civics requirement. What? Yes, depending on the reason you've received your visa, you will most likely have to complete a series of civics classes in order to renew your long stay visa. This should happen relatively close to your arrival, but Covid slowed things down a bit. By the time I received my appointment at the prefecture to sign the contract, I only had a couple months before my renewal appointment and had to wait to complete the civics requirement the following year.
The purpose of these classes is to provide an étranger with the knowledge of french history, culture, and life in France. The classes will cover topics of French values, health, family rights, places to live, working in France, culture, food, and history. Having already been in France for more than a year, I was familiar with many of the concepts, but they can be helpful and useful. These 4 classes take a period of 4 days and may be spread out. My first two were one a week for two weeks in a row, one two weeks later, and the last one a month after the 3rd class. You receive the date of the final class on the day of the third class because you get to choose a specific topic you'd like to learn more about.
My personal experience with the classes is a bit different because of Covid and an office relocation......
With Covid, there were no in person classes, so OFII (the French office e of immigration and integration) developed an online version of the class. The class took place over zoom and in my convocation lettre it stated that there would be a translator available, but there was not. With my intermediate French I was able to get by, but the days were long. A 7 hour class in French on zoom was exhausting, thankfully I was in the comfort of my own home. Those of us in the class received the notification of the zoom link the night before and the login information for the platform went to spam, so a good reminder to check your spam folder. The email came from osengo and/or nepsod. This was only the case for my first two classes, the third was in person.
On the day of the third class, I arrived at the address on my convocation lettre ten minutes early. Unexpectedly, the office was no longer at that address. There was the sign on the building and on the map, but the office inside was gone, with no indication of a new address. I asked some people that work in the office and they said the office was gone and they moved but did not know where. I looked online, but was having a hard time finding the new address. Thankfully two men who were also searching for the office showed up and showed me a text message they received stating the new address. *I never received a text. After sending an email to OFII I have learned that there are many people who have had this problem and did not receive any correspondence with the new address. I was literally told I must have fallen through the cracks.* Here is the new address for Lyon:
50 Quai Paul Sédallian
If you miss a class, it can prolong the process and make it difficult to renew your visa.
Another fun fact to note: I did not receive attestations after my first three classes as stated I would by OFII. I was notified by the instructor on the third day that I would receive one attestation on the last day of class that would be a "universal attestation" for the required civics courses. When I went to renew my visa, I was repeatedly told that I would need all 4 attestations in order to apply for a multiyear visa, but this has clearly c hanged. If you have other information, please let me know.
There is valuable information in the classes and although they are time consuming and frustrating at times because you don't know when the classes are going to take place, they are required and definitely better in person. It was helpful to have a translator too! I wish I would have had the classes when I first arrived, but that is not how it happened. The French system can be chaotic to navigate as there is a persistent lack of communication between departments and organizations so remember to breathe and remember that you are not alone. It can seem as if your life and your emotions are being toyed with by the powers that be, but it is not your fault.
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