As anyone with familiarity with the TAPIF program can attest, the arrival of your arrête de nomination signifies the moment when full-fledged planning can begin. This pack of documents contains your work contract, identifying which school(s) you will be working at, allowing you to look into housing and make contact with the TAPIF reference located at your school. Unfortunately, work contracts are scheduled to be delivered (by snail mail, usually) anywhere from June, July, and the first week of August. Only a few contracts have arrived for the 2015-2016 participants, and sadly I am not among the lucky ones.
So what do I do now?
Luckily, there are still lots of ways you can lay the groundwork for your TAPIF adventure! Here are the 7 steps you can take prior to receiving your arrête de nomination that will make your life in France easier!
1. SAVE MONEY.
Yes, it’s a paid position. No, you won’t get rich.
In all seriousness, one of the biggest perks of the TAPIF program is the chance to live and ACTUALLY work in France so that you will be making money instead of only spending it. However, making a net income of 790 euros a month does not leave a lot of wiggle room, especially of the traveling variety. In addition, you won’t get paid until the end of October (if you request an advance on your first payment). That means that you will need living expenses until that sweet sweet paycheck arrives, including groceries, transportation, housing, and maybe some travel. The TAPIF handbook suggests a baseline of $2000 to make it until the end of October, but it depends on your lifestyle and how much you plan to spend. In any event, I like to consider what I could be spending my money on in France, which keeps me from wasting money in New York.
2. Get an official birth certificate
In order to enroll in the French health care system, an official birth certificate is required. This doesn’t have to be the original copy- I would advise against using that one! However, photocopies are prohibited, so you can order new official copies from the city of your birth. In many cases, however, it’s cheaper to order these through the service Vital Chek.
3. Make your visa appointment
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. While you can’t actually go to your visa appointment without your work contract in hand, it is necessary to make an appointment ahead of time! Many busy consulates- such as New York and San Francisco- book appointments up to 2 months in advance. You can find which consulate is yours and book an appointment here.
4. Research airfare
The official line from TAPIF is not to book flights until your work contract has arrived. I’m skeptical. As long as you allow plenty of time for your visa appointment, the farther out in advance you book your flight the cheaper it will be (usually). Make sure to take some time to compare airlines, and look up nearest airports or train stations to where you have been placed. Consider whether you want to purchase a round-trip or one-way ticket.
5. Research health insurance
While in France, you’ll be covered by the French health care system, but that will only go into effect once you are officially enrolled in October. Additionally, this will only cover 70 % of medical costs and only in France. It is recommended to look into temporary health insurance plans or riders to supplement these gaps so that an accident does not become a financial catastrophe.
6. Research travel insurance
As mentioned in #6, French health care only covers you in France. Now that means if you are planning to travel out of the country you would be UNINSURED. Travel insurance can offset any illnesses or injuries you encounter while on your travels and it highly recommended!
7. Call the IRS
This only applies if you are American- if not, the tax authority in your country should be contacted. You will need to determine your own tax situation with working in France as an American citizen, so it’s worth a buzz to the IRS to make sure you’re not hit with any heavy taxes unexpectedly.
There you have it! You still have plenty to do before that coveted work contract arrives!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!