First word of advice: If you are a girl, do NOT wear a dress. Just don’t do it. Also, don’t wear anything on top that is difficult to take off. You can thank me later.*
In order to get the OFII appointment, your work starts before you leave the states/whatever non-European Union country you come from. You should be able to find the form to print on your consulate’s website. If not, either google search “OFII formulaire” or check the DC consulate’s website which usually has good information. You fill out the top part in the states, hand it in with your other papers at the consulate, and they give it back stamped when you get your visa. In France, you fill out the bottom half with your address and such. You mail the form by lettre reccomandée along with a copy of the identity page of your passport and the visa page including the stamp* proving your entry into the European Union. After a few weeks to a month, longer for some (it took about two weeks for me), you should get a letter confirming the receipt of your documents. This first letter may seem to be telling you you’re missing paperwork. You’re (probably) not. It’s only a warning with a list of what you were supposed to send in and if you didn’t send it in, get it in the mail pronto. Soon after (almost immediately after for me), you should get a convocation letter with your appointment date. Should being the key word. I know of two assistants who either did not get the letter or had to call OFII because it was taking too long and yes, they were scheduled. So call if you think something’s up or if people who sent in their forms around when you did know when their appointments are and you don’t. They tend to lump assistant appointments.
When you get to the OFII building, you let the secretary know you’re there and then wait. With you, you’ll need your passport, convocation letter, the page with the letter exempting you from taxes, and a French regulation identity photo (you can get these at photo booths in train stations and sometimes even at Carrefour). You’ll have the x-ray, they’ll check your weight and height, ask you questions, tell you that you don’t have TB, give you your sticker, and take your forms. All at separate times in separate rooms. French bureaucracy. In Montpellier, unlike in Nantes, there was no doctor to lecture you; “Are you taking birth control? You really should take birth control. I can see from your x-ray you haven’t eaten today. Breakfast is really important, you know.” There were, however, numerous posters warning against IST’s (STD’s in French) and contraception all over the building. Take these two lovely (or terrifying?) examples. Unlike in Nantes, I did not get to keep my x-ray as a souvenir this time. Pity.
In Montpellier, the OFII building is very easy to find. It’s right by the gare. You come out of the gare on the side towards the centre ville. Facing the city, you head right and fall right onto the rue Jules Ferry at the corner of the gare and the macdo.
*Ok, maybe I should say so you can be prepared. When you get your chest x-ray to check for tuberculosis, you must completely strip your upper body and shove yourself against a cold metal machine. No shots and checking for raised bumps here. Nothing painful, but maybe not a typical method for Americans who may feel odd stripping in front of a doctor with no hospital gown or anything given.
*When getting to France, if you went through customs in a country in the Schengen zone on or after the start date of your visa, you’re fine. If not, you should go through to get the visa stamped in France or you have to find the Police de l’air et des frontières (PAF) and ask them for a stamp proving your entry into the Schengen zone when you arrive in the French airport.