The residency card (Carte de Sejour) that I finally obtained last year after arriving expires on March 5th. As a responsible person, I begin gathering my documents and showed up at the immigration office 90 days before the expiration only to be told that I had plenty of time. “Come back two weeks before it expires.”
In the meantime, some of the documents that I had obtained in preparing to apply 90 days in advance expired. They are only valid, according to the immigration office, for three months. So, I had to obtain an update on a couple of them.
None of the documents are difficult to obtain. I gathered my rental contract, our marriage license, three months bank statements, a report from a doctor saying I am in good health, copies of my passport, and a background check from Morocco, which I was able to do online and then pick up, along with two application forms.
Since we are traveling at the end of February, I decided to return thirty days before it expired. My husband got up very early to put my name on the list at 7:30 so that I could get one of the first numbers when they handed them out at 8:30. However, they have changed that process. You must arrive at 8:30 and take a number as you arrive. I met him there and was given number 4.
Some men called each number and at a desk in the waiting area went over why you were there and what documents you had brought with you. They determined that I needed to fill out one other form concerning my past work and hobbies and that my husband needed to sign a statement of support. All of these documents had to be “legalized” which is some form of notary service. We had already done all of the documents that we brought with us and he was able to go next door and legalize his handwritten statement.
We were then asked to wait for one of the officers. When I was called, I entered the room with my husband. My husband asked the officer if I could get the document for ten years and he told him, “We will see.” He then began looking over my documents. This was a long, slow, painful process and he seemed to just move the papers around the desk while leaving the room several different times.
My husband who had returned to the waiting area said he came outside and asked him a few questions about our change of address. Finally, the office said to me, “Give me a thousand dirham”. Apparently, I looked shocked and I was. He said, “You wanted ten years, right?” I was speechless. We went to the ATM to get the money and returned quickly and obtained a receipt and instructions to return in two weeks for the card.
I don’t even know how to describe how exciting this is! If only you could understand the ten years of document chase that, I have done in Italy and now here. Italy was by far the most difficult with the permission to stay and residency being two separate transactions. Both require some of the same documents plus others and are at different offices.
We also got married in Italy, which was a year-long document gathering process for us both. Here in Morocco, it has been more streamlined and efficient (if you can ever say that about anything related to any government transaction) but in all fairness, since I am married to a citizen, half the battle is already won. Therein lays one of our biggest reasons for moving to Morocco. Two foreigners in a different country can be a challenge.
When I hear stories of American immigrants, I can really empathize. I think the process there must be even worse than what I have experienced. Dealing with documents only in English, many only available on the computer and traveling long distances to the immigration offices are only some of the obstacles that I see. These days, I am certain it is even more difficult than ever.
In ten years, I will have to return to Casablanca to renew my passport and will have to renew my Carte de Sejour. That seems like a good long time and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.