GETTING CAF: What is CAF? As I mentioned in my housing guide, this is a housing subsidization from la caisse d’allocations familiales, CAF. All assistants should be eligible if they’re paying for housing. While you can fill out the application online at http://www.caf.fr/, personally, I would suggest going in person to CAF because there are actual people available to help you and they hand you all the forms you should need. Once you are in possession of your housing, you should make starting your CAF application a priority. You do not get an allocation for your first month of rent.
I’ve got the application. So… What do I do with this thing?? Once you have the application, there aren’t any directions to fill it out. If you go in person, you can ask questions. If you can’t go in person or you prefer the online option, I’ve attempted to put together a guide to filling out the application. Please excuse the quality of the photo. Most of it is pretty straight forward and you probably don’t need me to tell you where to write your name and such, but if I didn’t cover something, feel free to ask. Keep in mind, you are the “allocataire” and unless you lived in the region before and received CAF, you don’t yet have a number.
Déclaration de situation pour les prestations familiales et les aides au logement:
Votre nationalité: Autre (unless you’re European, then it’s EEE, Espace économique européen)
Votre date d’entrée en France si vous résidiez à l’étranger: You’re a foreigner, so the date you entered France
Commune: The city you live in
As assistants are not French citizens, your parents do not receive any of the listed funds, so check the “non” box.
You are “salarié”. If you’re currently enrolled in a school, then you might check “étudiant”. Ask.
Votre employeur côtise à: autre, Éducation Nationale
Demande d’aide au logement:
Ce logement est-il votre résidence principale? Oui
Déclaration de ressources: If you were a student and didn’t have any income (work study shouldn’t count), check the box for “absence de ressources en 2011”. If not, you will need something to prove your income for that year. I wrote “étudiante” next to the box to justify it, but that might not be necessary.
Attestation de loyer: Your landlord should fill out this form. One side is if you live in a student residence, the other is for any other situation. For assistants, it’s generally less complicated for the money to be put directly into your bank account.
How to get to the CAF in Nîmes The address is 321 rue Maurice Schumann. From the centre ville, take Tango ligne K, direction carré sud. Get off at the CAF stop. Once you pass the skate park, there’s one stop, multiplexe, before the CAF, but you can ask the bus driver for the stop when you board if you’re worried about not knowing when to press the button for the stop. CAF is down the road to the right when you’re facing the stop. Bonus, there’s a grocery store with pretty good prices and a decent international foods section across the street next to the bus stop to get back to the centre ville.
I handed in my application Friday and was told it’s not a problem that I don’t have a social security number yet and that they shouldn’t need it. This sounds fishy to me as some others were told they needed it, but we shall see. Some people have been asked to bring a copy of their landlord’s identity card or other things. I’ve heard some horror stories, but here’s hoping my CAF story won’t be too complicated. It can take up to three months to start receiving the funds, so you basically have to hold tight and hope it all works. I was told it would take about 1-3 weeks to get my numéro d’allocataire (which means that at this point, I would be able to check the progress of my application online). Good luck to all others applying to CAF! Hope this helps.
You’ll see that CAF and I have a very love/hate relationship through my updates. I love getting my allocations, I hate that they’re almost not worth it since I have to fight for them almost every month.
UPDATE: I got my numéro d’allocataire in the mail yesterday (the 28th of November). It thus took about two weeks and I was told it would take between 1-3 weeks. From this point on, my dossier should be evaluated to see how much my allocation should be and then I should hopefully start receiving the money between 1-3 months from now.
UPDATE: Yesterday (the 16th of December) I got a letter asking for the form for revenue earned in 2012 to be filled out and for a copy of my November paystub (bulletin de salaire).
UPDATE: I received a letter in the mail sometime between December 27th and January 2nd asking for a copy of my birth certificate translated by a traducteur assermenté. January 2, 2014: I went to the CAF today and turned in the revenue for 2012 form, the November paystub, and the official translated birth certificate. At the desk, they gave me a number and someone saw me at another desk to go over my file and make sure everything was complete. They put my file on “urgent” status and I was told that I should receive the allocation within 15 days. Let’s hope that’s true! The two women I spoke to were both extremely nice.
UPDATE: Today, the 15th of January, I received my first CAF allocation!!! Woooo hoooo!!!! Celebration!
UPADATE: And a few days after, I received a letter asking for my bulletin de salaire and my revenus de 2012. I called the CAF to see if they still needed these since I had already started to receive my allocation and they do not. They said to just ignore the forms.
UPDATE: March 21, 2014. Never received my allocation for January or February, so I went to CAF to ask about it. Somehow, after using my paystub to calculate my housing allowance, they lost it and apparently it wasn’t in the system and they never notified me. Well, it was on file and I personally believe this is a really poorly formed excuse because HOLY FLUTTERMUFFINS how do you loose something you already used and had on file that clearly must have already been entered into the database because I received my allocation for December?? I should be reimbursed within 8 days. I am CONVINCED French bureaucracy makes varying levels of crappy excuses to try to avoid paying people. And no, CAF woman, my allocation is not worked into my salary. Just… No. That’s my NET salary you’re looking at and it says so. You were friendly enough, but seriously, what in holy fluff pigeons did you eat for breakfast? You could have at least found a better excuse.
UPDATE: I received a letter on April 9th dated April 4th saying CAF does not have my birth certificate on file. I called and was told my birth certificate doesn’t have a stamp. Which isn’t possible. I gave them the official translation on January 2nd (look at my updates) and just looked at my copies of this and they each have a stamp. Holy sugarplum dumplings. I think I might just péter des plombs. Seriously, how is this even possible? Is there a poltergeist at CAF that has invisible ink and steals things randomly? Because really, besides dishonesty, incompetence, and terrible organization, that’s all I can think of as a possibility. When I return to Hemingway this afternoon, I will make more copies of my birth certificate and apostille and hopefully be able to make it to CAF before they close at 4PM. And I received my CAF allocations for January and February last month the same day I received my paycheck (but not as part of my paycheck, you CAF woman that flabbergasted me).
I went to CAF today (April 10) with copies of my birth certificate and apostille. They put my folder on urgent status. We’ll see what happens, because I might just for real péter des plombs if they mess up again. I returned home with half-priced mochi from the Grand Frais across the street. No regrets. I also learned that while Petit Chat won’t cuddle with me, he’ll cuddle with my booted feet if you sit on the steps with him. What a silly kitty.