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At the CEA, a newcomer can receive help according to their needs (visa, housing, taxes…) from the International Office (IO) created at the beginning of 2012 (they work with Science Accueil) by the CEA. However, the IO only helps people on contract with the CEA. http://www-centre-saclay.cea.fr/fr/International-Office-Bureau-d-accueil-international http://internationaloffice.ceasaclay.com
Science Accueil is a non-profit organization which can help with visa, housing, social security and others. Here is a letter that outlines their services (pdf), including arranging bank accounts in advance of arrival, French lessons and streamlining the residence permit process. Science Accueil website: http://www.science-accueil.org/uk/prepare-your-stay.html
Summary of Science Accueil services (from their November 2014 newsletter):
A personalized assistance to get through formalities In order to help guest researchers to get through their formalities (visa, residency permit, work permit, taxes, health insurance, bank account, schooling or nursing, etc.), please do not hesitate to contact Sandra Richard (email@example.com) in Orsay or Katrin Salhab (firstname.lastname@example.org) in Evry.
Help for housing With our database of 3.000 furnished accommodation (rooms in the owner’s house, one- bedroom apartment, apartments or houses), mainly located along the B, C, and D train lines (RER) or in Paris downtown, we can help you to find the most appropriate accommodation. Please fill in the form clicking here.
Cultural visits and activities We organize social activities for you with our local partners. For more details, please click here. For registration, please contact us (email@example.com).
French courses for Researchers In partnership with ALFAP we offer guest researchers and their spouses French classes of all levels in Orsay and Bures-sur-Yvette. Information: ALFAP - firstname.lastname@example.org
Note that Science Accueil is the Orsay member of the European organization Euraxess, so go to the respective Euraxess member website if you need help traveling elsewhere in Europe for scientific reasons. http://ec.europa.eu/euraxess/index.cfm/services/index
Euraxess Paris Centre (sometimes described as BACE (Reception Office of Foreign Researchers)), is separate from Science Accueil, but is also part of Euraxess. They have their offices at Cite Universitaire, but are independent from that organisation. Register with them here (they have a useful mailing list and arrange regular social events and tours at the weekend): https://www.fnak.fr/access/index.php?lang=en&id=pariscentre Euraxess Paris/BACE, Cité internationale universitaire de Paris (CiuP), Maison Internationale - 17, boulevard Jourdan F - 75014 Paris, Phone: +33 (0)1 76 21 27 72 - Fax: +33 (0)1 45 89 37 48, e-mail: email@example.com
RUSF (Réseau d'Universités sans Frontière) is a non-profit organization of committed university professionals and students helping foreigners for different issues. They fight discrimination on the basis of facts and testimonies. They also take clear positions concerning the French legal frame. http://www.rusf.org/
GISTI (Groupe d'Information et de Soutien des Immigrés) is a non-profit organization which dedicates its help to juridical problems encountered by any immigrant. In practice, most people asking for a work permit are students who have graduated, so GISTI help them in particular. http://www.gisti.org/index.php
FNAK http://www.fnak.fr/dn_TheFnAK/ All should sign up to get the GUEST RESEARCHERS card (useful for opening a bank account and for Cite Universitaire) Provides easy health and apartment insurance website itself is of limited use as most links are dead