New Zealand to France as a “jeune fille au pair”
If you are interested in the process I went through, here it is. There are also some links below for some useful sites.
The first thing I did was to book my flights; this can be left until later, but generally the earlier you organise this, the better. Prices fluctuate throughout the year, and depending on when you go, it may become a lot pricier the longer you leave it. I went through Student Flights, and the agent I have been in contact with and met from there has been incredibly helpful. As I will not be returning to New Zealand directly from France, I haven’t included that cost. I paid $1,449.00 from Auckland to Paris via Singapore, which also included an $80 deposit on my insurance. Insurance in total came to a premium of $504; the excess is $250, and this covers me for any healthcare/dental care I may need, emergency accommodation and transport, and varying amounts for any lost luggage, documents, incidents, death, personal liability, etc. You can choose different premium vs. excess amounts.
The next thing I had to do was to find a family to work for. This took some time, as the school year begins in September, so most families focus on searching for an au pair for that time of the year. Often if you are seeking a position for later in the year, you will be replacing someone who needs to leave before the school year ends for some reason. The main place to find families anywhere in the world is Au Pair World – good families in ideal locations often receive a high number of applications, so anyone taking this route should contact the family ASAP and make an effort to stand out from the rest. I found my family through a Facebook group – there are a number of groups for Au Pair in Paris/Au Pair in France/etc. The family’s previous au pair had posted on their behalf, and through her I obtained their contact details and was also able to ask some questions. I began emailing the mother, scheduled a Skype date, and researched the questions that I should ask before accepting a position as an au pair. I also Skyped a friend who had worked as an au pair to talk about what I should ask. After the Skype conversation, I was very happy with the information I had, and the mother seemed absolutely lovely! She sent me some information about their location and some family photos, and also the contact details for their current au pair. I emailed the current au pair, who answered all the other questions I had, and she spoke very highly of the family. She told me that they were very keen for me to accept the position. I was happy with the situation, so I emailed the mother to accept.
Then came all the paperwork!
In order to work as an au pair, your contract must be filled out and signed by both yourself and by the family. Scans are acceptable. It is then taken by the family to the «Direction Régionale des Entreprises, de la Concurrence, de la Consommation, du Travail et de l’Emploi » to be validated. Along with the signed and completed contract, you must submit the following documents:
A letter of motivation (why you want to go to France to work as an au pair) in both English and French. Your host family should be able to help you with the translation if needed. It is often good to include a couple of mistakes, because a major reason for working as an au pair is to learn the language.
A copy of your degree or diploma. Sometimes this is accepted in English, but it is recommended to submit a translation in French, too. This must be done by an official translator; I went through the NZ Government translation services, which cost $85. It is good to have a copy anyway in case it is needed for any other official matters.
A copy of your passport.
You will need a health certificate, though not necessarily before your arrival in France. This should also be translated into French if your appointment was not in France. It must also be from no more than 3 months before your arrival date in France. As a student, I paid $10 for my medical check-up. There are no required vaccines, but I was given a list of recommendations as I have never been vaccinated. There are two which they highly recommend, so I will likely get those.
Proof of registration in a French class. For New Zealand citizens, there are no minimum required hours. I enrolled for two trimesters with France Langue, on the Discovery Programme for au pairs. I had to pay a deposit of 245,00 €, from a total of 810,00 €. The other 565,00 € is due one week before arrival. I was able to submit just my initial registration information and the receipt of my deposit in order for the DIRECCTE to validate my contract, but they should also send a certificate of enrolment in advance for au pairs to submit for their paperwork.
The next phase was the visa appointment. I applied for the au pair visa (“visa long séjour mention étudiant”) , which is valid for up to a year. It is necessary to go to Wellington for this, as they will take your fingerprints and also a photo of you at the embassy. The embassy is in central Wellington, and there is a sign to direct you to the visa office. There are two windows – the first is for French citizens, and the second is for visa applicants. I arrived approximately 15 minutes before my appointment was scheduled, and didn’t have to wait long.
The documents which you are required to submit for your visa include:
Completed and signed long stay visa application form and copy. You will need the contact details for your host family for this.
Completed and signed OFII form and copy. You fill out the top section, the embassy stamps the middle section, and the rest is completed on arrival.
One recent passport photograph (attached to your long stay visa form – I attached mine with a paperclip, and the embassy glued it on)
Passport (valid for at least three months after your return date) and copy. You have to leave the passport with the embassy until they post it back to you.
Your DIRECCTE-validated au pair contract (accord de placement) and copy. As I did not receive the validation before my appointment, I had contacted the embassy in advance. I simply had to email it to them once I received it in order for the visa paperwork to be processed.
Proof of enrolment in a French course – you should already have this from your DIRECCTE application.
Your highest qualification and copy. They did not need this in translation, but submitting the translation may be useful if you have it.
A pre-paid envelope with your address on it provided for return of passport. I bought a $3 postage bag and paid for the courier.
Long stay visa fees, in cash. These can vary. The price dropped for two weeks a few days before my appointment, which was great! I paid $151.50. The information is in French – I had to pay for the visa over 90 days.
Once the visa paperwork is completed, the embassy advises that it will take a minimum of three weeks. I have heard of the time frame being shorter than that, but allow for at least one month, and more around holiday periods.
Upon arrival in France, you have to complete and post the OFII form to the authorities of the relevant area of residency (details with the form). You must fill out the second half of the form, and attach photocopies of the following:
the stamp from the French immigration officer, showing the date you came through the border
You will then be requested to come in for a medical examination (unless you have had one) and to attend an introductory meeting (“visite d’accueil”). On the day, you also pay a fee to obtain your "titre de séjour". You submit the following documents:
a passport photo
proof of residence – something that confirms your address in France
a medical certificate if you have it
the payment - details should be on your invitation letter. It should be approximately 85,00 €.
Once this is all done (must be done within three months of your arrival in France), you can stay in France until your visa expires!