I am officially a resident of Morocco as of today. It took almost six months, but the process went smoothly and without much chaos. We visited the immigration office three times.
The first time we visited, they said that we needed to legalize our marriage in Morocco. We knew this but needed a little information on the process, which they provided. We got married in Italy and filed paperwork with the United States and with Morocco through the Prefecture and the Consulates.
In Morocco, we had to get an attorney to finalize the legalization process for Morocco. It took six weeks and one court appearance and cost about $600. This is important in Morocco for many other reasons than just the residency when a non-Muslim marries a Muslim.
Once we had accomplished that, we returned with that document, bank statements from our bank in Morocco, a background check from Italy, our rental contract for one year, a medical review from a local doctor, Ben’s residency card, my passport, of course, and completed forms provided by the immigration office.
The immigration office opens at 9:00, but to get a number, someone has to be there at 7 a.m. to put your name on a list. Then you return at 8:30 for your name to be called and they give you a number. They have a cut off around 15 people per day, so it is not crowded, and the waiting area is pleasant.
On our second visit, we discovered that they wanted a United States background check and not an Italian one, even though I had been in Italy for the past seven years. This is where things got tricky. To get an FBI background check, you must have fingerprints taken. There are no fingerprint facilities here in Morocco.
I had read online that other background checks such as local police were acceptable. My problem is that I had not lived in the US for seven years and really didn’t know where to start. I have a driver’s license and bank account in Tennessee with the address of my parents so decided to try the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. I applied online and they sent it to my parents address in Tennessee within a week.
My mother mailed it to me before Christmas, and after 6 weeks, it had still not arrived. They had sent two copies and she had mailed only one so she mailed the second one the middle of January. It took a month to get here! When it arrived, we went straight to the immigration office with all of our documents.
At this third meeting, they entered my information into the computer! We felt that we had made a huge step forward and we had. I paid 100 dirham’s (about $10) for the processing fee and left there with a receipt to come back in a month.
We were in the area today and decided to drop in and see if additional progress had been made on the residency application. The processing was complete and I left with a temporary residence card, which indicates I am a resident of Morocco.
Residency means that I no longer have to leave the country every 90 days and that phone plans, bank accounts, and some other services are available to me that weren’t in the past. My permanent card will be ready in 90 days and it is good for one year.
The renewal process for the residency card needs to start 90 days before the expiration and will require most of the same documents, but this time the background check will come from inside Morocco.
If you are moving to another country and want to establish residency, you need to do a lot of research. Many countries require a visa prior to trying to establish residency. In Italy for example, it is a three-step process. You have to get a visa before you leave your country for an extended stay, work, or elective residence. You have to apply and obtain your Permesso di Soggiorno and then apply for your residency.
In Morocco, for Americans, you have a 90-day visa for tourism to enter (and can leave the country and come back in to renew it within the 90 days) and the application for the Carte de Sejour and residency are the same application.
I was prepared for the worst and feel that I got the best! Who could ask for more?