The Meeting

“When did you meet each other?”

A question a lot of people that have fallen in love online face multiple times.

“We met online through Instagram.”

How the people feel after hearing this answer and whatever direction their minds wander is their business and I respect their freedom of thought. The important take-away is to never judge anyone for their decisions with who they choose to love, how they fell in love, or anything regarding such personal experiences.

Why? Because no one in this world can comprehend or understand exactly what entailed for a couple to share love between each other. No once can predict the future, either. It’s easiest for everyone to accept that love is beautiful and everyone feels it and if he decides to share his feelings for her and she decides to share her feelings for him, and they are in symmetry, then rest assured they’re most likely happy!

Zouhair and I met for the first time on Instagram and met in-person in the Casablanca airport!

4ebff2_ccfa4aa32df04aa596e7ce633ffcaab5-mv2After deciding to get married, which was an easy decision for both of us; I collected all necessary documents from the US (which can be read about in-detail here) and bought a plane ticket that would fly me from Indianapolis, Indiana to New York to Paris, France to Casablanca, Morocco.

I imagined every day (and night)…every second, really about what it would be like to finally look into Zouhair’s eyes and hug him and be in his presence.

The afternoon of March 3, 2016 Zouhair and I were FINALLY in the same country with each other. My heart was pounding with anticipation and excitement.

I felt comfortable and at peace even in this new country I had never been to meeting someone I had never truly met “in real life.” I will never forget this feeling.

After getting off the plane I waited in a long line to enter the actual airport and get my Morocco stamp added to my passport. The temperature was chilly and the line of people in front and around me was disorganized, but all I could think about was the fact that Zouhair was in the same building as me.

I sent him messages as I slowly inched closer and closer to him.

My passport had a fresh stamp and I entered baggage claim to find my two suitcases strangely by themselves near the belt return. I grabbed my bags and scanned every crevice of my surroundings for Zouhair.

“Where is he? Can he see me? Do I look okay? Is my heart still beating? Am I breathing?”

I successfully finish scanning my luggage one last time and I received a message.

“I see you.”

I still couldn’t see him, so now my every move was thought out as I didn’t want to trip and fall or embarrass myself in any way; It sort of felt like I was on a Miss America pageant runway or something.

I exited the baggage claim area and scanned the new surroundings, but before I finished scanning the last wall I see someone walking towards me.

Oh my gosh, it’s HIM!

We walk up to each other faces full of smiles and hug each other for the first time ever.

The feeling was one in a million and I felt so lucky to finally be in his arms.

<script async src=”//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js”></script> <script> (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({ google_ad_client: “ca-pub-5881875198710252”, enable_page_level_ads: true }); </script>

Advertisements

The Power of Asking for Help

Alhamdulillah!

Zouhair and I have been fortunate enough to be introduced to a fantastic baby doctor, OB/GYN through the use of social media.

Expat.com is a website I registered with to speak with other expats and read forums to learn more about the country of Morocco through the experiences of other Morocco-based expats.

I came across a thread titled, “Rules for Birth in Morocco.” I proceeded to read every word within the post and followed the read with posting a question about OB/GYNs and if anyone had any recommendations for the Tetouan area.

Two lovely women replied with very thorough responses and I couldn’t be more grateful for their input.

One woman recommended I search for the group “Positive Birth Morocco” as well as the group “American and English Speaking Women in Morocco” and suggested I search for a Tetouan-specific page for English-speakers, too.

Within seconds of reading her reply I searched the groups and asked to become a member of both groups and successfully found the page “English Speaking Ladies of the Tetouan-opolis” as well as “English Speaking Women in Tangier/Tetouan Region.”

I cannot express how much these groups have helped me in our pregnancy journey since being accepted into the pages.

The women within these pages will respond to your questions thoroughly and will offer more advice than you could have ever hoped for.

A woman specifically reached out to me from Tangier. She sent me a direct message through Facebook after seeing one of my posts on the group pages and offered to help me in any way she could and to not hesitate to come to her with any questions as she had just had a baby girl a few weeks prior in Tangier.

We spoke to each other quite often and one of the first things she suggested to me was her OB/GYN in Tangier. She raved about her experience with this doctor and that she felt very cared and even pampered by the staff during her birth.

Zouhair and I made an appointment, which even making an appointment made us feel optimistic, as the doctors we experienced in the past didn’t take appointments.

The time came for our appointment and we couldn’t be happier with our experience. The doctor in Tangier is professional, takes her time to get to know you (even with the language barrier), and it is obvious she takes pride in her work and takes each patient and case seriously.

Our appointment took around an hour, which most likely equated to the combined time of our past doctor appointments from weeks 6 to 25.  The office was very clean and the ultrasound machine recorded in 3D and 4D, which was a wonderful surprise for both Zouhair and I. There was even an HD TV on the wall facing adjacent from the ultrasound machine for the expectant mothers to watch the ultrasound process without cranking their neck around to watch on the ultrasound machine screen.

Zouhair and I watched our little guy on the screen and he translated to me anything the doctor said, which, Alhamdulillah, everything was fine. His organs, hands, feet, eyes, and little heartbeat are all developing great and how they should be!

Zouhair and I both are truly grateful for the support and advice we have received from everyone throughout our pregnancy.

Coming from America, I have different expectations about what sort of care I would like to receive and although my expectations do not always translate when I am in Morocco, I never forget that I am indeed in a different country. I’m in a different continent. Many things are going to be different and in many ways I like these differences.

The importance lies with comfort and trust with the physician, especially considering that pregnancy and birthing a baby is something that cannot be planned for 100%. The physician/patient relationship is important no matter the difference in language, the costs for care, or the location within this world.

It’s absolutely beautiful how much people can help each other Mashallah. If you ever find yourself in a situation that seems there’s no option that is good or enough for you, just keep looking. Keep searching, and most importantly ask for help! It seems simple, but sometimes I find myself forgetting that this world is full of people who have had their own unique experiences and some of these people are very willing and excited to share and help others as much as they can.

We’re not alone in this world and helping each other as the family that we are will help make this life much easier. You will most likely have many new friends and relationships than you did before, too. ❤

<script async src=”//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js”></script> <script> (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({ google_ad_client: “ca-pub-5881875198710252”, enable_page_level_ads: true }); </script>

How to Apply for a Family Book in Morocco?

What is a family book and why does Morocco use it ??

We will have a baby boy soon Insha Allah and we didn’t know exactly when and where the baby will be born. In case the visa is delayed we made our decision to apply for the Moroccan family book.

The process seems complicated to apply for a family book in Morocco. You need to ask to many places to be successful in what you are doing, because if you start searching online for how to apply for a family book in Morocco, you will find things different.

We started searching online for how to apply and we found documents just for Moroccan citizens, but our situation is different as I’m a Moroccan citizen with a foreign wife.

To find the documents that you need online is nearly impossible. When we went to Mokata’a to ask what the documents were that we needed to apply for this book, they gave us universal answers. They didn’t know that the documents they requested for Moroccan citizens were not the same for an American citizen.

This was my conversation with the officer in Mokata’a :

Me: “Salamo Alaykom we need to apply for a family book for a Moroccan husband and a foreign wife. What are the documents we need?”

Worker: “Wa alaykom Salam Where are you living?”

Me : “In Tetouan City?”

Worker: “You need a copy from your ID Card, 2 pictures, a copy from your certificate of marriage and “Noskha Kamila”.

Me : “What about my wife?”

Worker: “Where is she from?”

Me: “From America.”

Worker : “She needs  “Noskha Kamila” and a copy from her ID Card.”

Me :”From where will she bring this “Noskha Kamila”?

Worker: “From the place that she was born “which meant from her country”…

If you think about her answer you need to take a plane to America and spend a lot of money and see if you can find it or not. They thought traveling to another continent is easy.

If you are a Moroccan citizen and you live in another city, yes you need to go to your city that you born in and you can bring that paper easily because your information is in that city.

We were confused about the “Noskha Kamila” and what they call it in America and if they have it or not. We asked many places and they said the same answers to everyone; they didn’t care if you had the same documents as morocco in your country or not, but to just bring them what they requested from you.

I tried to translate that word from Arabic to English to explain to Hannah what exactly that paper meant, but the translation was like this ‘Copy Complete’ or ‘Full Copy’. I know in Arabic what the meaning of this paper was, it has more extended  information than her birth certificate,
but Hannah didn’t understand it yet because they didn’t use it.

We came back home and we made some research about these documents. Hannah made a post on a Facebook group for foreign people that are living in Morocco to ask them about this paper and they were helpful and we appreciated it.

What we understood was that the “Noskha Kamila” was a full birth certificate and they didn’t have it in America because they use just a normal, short-form birth certificate. A woman said they have this “long-form” birth certificate in the UK and a women from the same group said her husband applied for it and to just use her birth certificate. Some people needed to translate it, we didn’t, but every office has different rules.

We were lucky Hannah had two birth certificates her mom sent her to use in Morocco for all the documents that she needs to apply for. The next day we went back to Mokata’a to finish applying and an officer asked me, “Did you bring all the documents?”

I said, yes.

She asked me about Hannah’s Noskha Kamila (full birth certificate) and I gave her just the normal US birth certificate. She read it and then she sent us to another bureau. We went together and we gave it to another officer with the other documents and it worked this time.

The documents for Moroccan citizen:

A full birth certificate (Noskha Kamila) you have it in the same place.
A Copy for ID Card.
2 Pictures.
Certificate of Marriage.

The documents for Foreign:

A full birth certificate or Birth certificate:
Copy for ID Card:

And after two days we went back to pick up the family book and we needed to pay for a stamp. The price was 50 DH ($5).

Family Announcement

Baby banana is coming soon and we are so excited to hug him! We went to a market (Souk) and we bought Bananas. When we came back home we found an adorably tiny baby banana inside and decided it was the right time to make a  picture to tell everyone this big news. We are running out of time for our announcement family photo, but luckily a baby banana found us just in time before our real baby banana has decided to meet us.

 4ebff2_7f9bf507c2f14aab823edf3674c562cc-mv2

Zouhair’s Birthday

This is my 23rd birthday I wasn’t expecting any gift from someone. I’m used to celebrating just by a cake with my parents. This is my first year married away from my parent’s house and the first birthday with my wife, every day we spend with each other is a celebration for us. I had two beautiful gifts in this year one from my wife and the other one from Mary (my wife’s aunt). That was so great.

My wife’s gifts: The day of my birthday Sunday morning we went to see a tour of horses in Tetouan City called Moroccan Royal Tour. We took nice pictures and we enjoyed our time in that beautiful place. She wanted me to choose any meal I wanted, it was the Crepe and this was the first time in my life I ever had it, it was so delicious (Crepe with Banana and Nutella).

The second gift was from Mary. She remembered my birthday, as my mom did without notification from Facebook or another modern notification. She sent the package on the 22nd of September from the US early to be in Morocco on the same day as my birthday. When I opened the package I was surprised! I liked everything especially the Halloween pumpkin and baby socks.

Mary sent a package full with cute gifts and cards from Family.

  1. Cards

  2. Cakes

  3. Happy Birthday Banners

  4. Candles Package

  5. Baby Socks 🙂

  6. Napkins

  7. Halloween Pumpkin

Thank you Habibti for the nice Crepe and  thank you Mary for the perfect gifts you sent to us .

Our First Pregnancy Doctor Experience in Morocco

In America, if you’re looking for a new doctor, you either go to Google, call your insurance provider for a recommendation, or consult family and friends for a referral. After you’ve found your prospective physician you then proceed to call the doctors office, a nurse answers, and you schedule an appointment.

You usually get a call from the nurse a day before your appointment to remind you of the time and location of your upcoming visit.

In Morocco, you go to the pharmacist and ask for a recommendation or wander the streets looking for signs on the sides of buildings listing the doctor’s name and specialty. You walk in and you wait to see the doctor.

No records. No insurance. No paperwork. No medical history. Nada.

At around 6 weeks pregnant we decided to find an OB/GYN (baby doctor) in Tetouan.

We were lucky because Zouhair was able to find a forum at this website anaqamaghribia in Arabic of women asking for baby doctor’s in Tetouan and a specific doctor was mentioned multiple times with good reviews, so we decided to go see him.

We will call this doctor, Dr. 1, because he was the first doctor we visited.

 If you’re interested in the name of this doctor feel free to message us and we will share.

On June 6, 2016 we went to the hospital that was affiliated with Dr. 1 and we were directed to the delivery ward of the hospital and we luckily crossed paths with Dr. 1.

We told him we were pregnant and interested in him being our doctor. He told us his location and that he would be heading there soon.

We got in a taxi and headed to the office. No appointment necessary, of course.

The office is inside of an apartment building, as are most Moroccan doctor’s offices, and it’s on the third-ish floor, very fun for the very pregnant women to walk up stairs. Get the pregnancy blood pumping.

On the outside of the door is a doorbell that you ring for the staff to unlock the door. We enter and, as always, are stared at by everyone for looking like foreigners, especially me.

There was a nurse at the front desk and she seemed to know who we were. How? Probably because the doctor warned her that we (the new foreign-looking couple) were coming.

She told Zouhair that we would be with the doctor soon and to wait a few moments.

The office was packed full and instead of sitting uncomfortably squished between a bunch of pregnant Moroccan women, we chose to stand in the hall.

We waited about 45 minutes and we met Dr. 1.

He spoke a tiny bit of English, which made me very happy, but the majority of the conversation was between Zouhair and the Dr.

About one minute into the conversation I was motioned to enter another room to have an ultrasound. This is very different than in the US.

First off, my blood pressure wasn’t taken, my urine wasn’t sampled to confirm my pregnancy, my weight wasn’t measured, and my temperature wasn’t checked. Nothing was recorded and it’s also not common to have an ultrasound so early.

We entered the small room with the outdated ultrasound machine with no lights on other than from the window. I lay down on the bed and Dr. 1 starts covering my belly in jelly and moving the monitor around my (at the time) flat stomach.

I saw my little peena peena for the first time! I was unbelievably excited and mesmerized! We even heard the heartbeat! I couldn’t believe it.

All of the conversation was in Arabic, so I was even more surprised by everything with no warning or heads up that “hey, you’re going to hear the heartbeat, Hannah!”

I was thrilled and I easily forgot that none of the typical US medical protocols were performed until after we left the office.

We were given a vitamin to start off with (Yofolvit) that only has folic acid, vitamin B12, and iodine, again, a lot more different than a US prenatal vitamin, which has at least triple the amount of vitamins and minerals, which put me off a bit.

Dr. 1 gave us a little paper folder and stapled a small ultrasound photo to the inside and sent us on our way.

The cost of the visit was $25 (250 MAD) and we didn’t/don’t have insurance, so we paid the very friendly front-desk nurse and left with big smiles as the news of our new little baby was in fact very real!

The ultrasound photo to the right was not taken at this exact visit, but at week 12. Isn’t he cute?!

Overall, we learned that if you want your weight to be measured, ASK. If you want your blood pressure taken, ASK. If you want anything from your doctor that isn’t already offered, just ask them. We weren’t satisfied with the Yolfolvit vitamin, so we asked and he gave us a free sample of another prenatal vitamin and we have taken it since.

Our experiences fluctuate as we progress in our pregnancy. We meet Dr. 2 and are very unhappy and start to feel hopeless about finding a doctor we both are truly comfortable and compatible with. Follow along in our blogs to come and learn why we went back to Dr. 1.

I-130 Packet: Cover Letter Example

April 25, 2016

USCIS

P.O. Box 804625

Chicago, IL 60680-4107

Subject: I-130 Petition for [SPOUSE’S NAME]

Dear Sir/Madam:

I, [NAME], a citizen of the United States, would like to file a petition I-130 for my spouse, [SPOUSE’S NAME].

Please find enclosed the following required and supporting documents:

  1. Completed and signed for G-1145

  2. Completed and signed form I-130

  3. Money order for I-130 filing fee

  4. Completed and signed form G-325A and photograph (petitioner)

  5. Completed and signed form G-325A and photograph (beneficiary)

  6. Copy of petitioner’s birth certificate

  7. Copy of our marriage certificate

  8. Copy of beneficiary’s birth certificate and passport

  9. A lease showing joint tenancy of a common residence

  10. Proof of a bona fide relationship

    1. A short summary of our story

    2. Evidence A

    3. Evidence B

    4. Evidence C

Copies of the documents submitted are exact photocopies of unaltered documents and I understand that I or my husband may be required to submit original documents to an immigration or consular officer at a later date.

I kindly request you to process the above petition and to provide the receipt notice as soon as possible.

If you have any questions or concerns on the above matter, please do not hesitate to contact me at [phone number], or at the address below.

Thank you,

[PETITIONER’S NAME]

[SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER]

[ADDRESS]

 

 

//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({ google_ad_client: “ca-pub-5881875198710252”, enable_page_level_ads: true });

I-130 Packet: Bona Fide Evidence Example

You must include in your I-130 packet evidence that your relationship with your foreign spouse is legitimate. In order to do so include things such as photos together, video chat logs, phone call logs, social media interaction, tickets from visits to each other, receipts from you wedding rings, shared lease, shared accounts, etc.

We personally wrote a story of our relationship of how we met. Included was evidence through photos, screenshots of videos we had made for each other, and logs from messages throughout the months of our contact.

<script async src=”//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js”></script> <script> (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({ google_ad_client: “ca-pub-5881875198710252”, enable_page_level_ads: true }); </script>

USCIS: Our I-130 Packet

This is simply our specific steps for filing our I-130 Spouse visa packet. The steps and specific processes might change based on your specific situation and time of application.

The Visa Forms:

Step 1: Download -> I-130, Petition for Alien Relative as well as the Instructions pdf

Step 2: Download -> 2 copies (one for the petitioner, one for the beneficiary)

G-325A, Biographic Information pdf

Step 3: Download -> G-1145, e-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance

This form will let USCIS know that you would like to receive text message and Email updates rather than only relying on the post or through MyUSCIS case statusfeature through the USCIS website.

The Supporting Documents:

A cover for your packet (See our example here to the right)

Basic information: Title, name of petitioner, filed from abroad (if applicable to you).

A cover letter (See our example here)

This document is like the contents of a book. Organize and list all of what is inside of your I-130 packet.

A copy of your birth certificate or certificate of naturalization or ALL passport pages from the petitioner.

A copy of the beneficiary’s birth certificate. 

A copy of your marriage certificate.

If this, or any other document, is in any language other than English, be sure to translate it to English before sending.

A copy of a divorce/annulment decree or previous spouse’s death decree (if applicable)

Two 2×2 photographs of you (the petitioner) and 2 of your spouse (the beneficiary (aka applicant))

Attach the photos to each individual’s G325A.

On the back of each photograph include the full name and date of birth of the applicable person. Do this in PENCIL and attach with a paperclip to the petitioner’s G325A form as well as the beneficiary’s G325A form.

Bona Fide Evidence of you relationship (See our examples here)

This is basically examples to show USCIS that your relationship is true and not a fraud.

You can use photos, receipts for wedding rings, message logs, call logs, emails, video chat logs, tickets from visits to each other, etc.

A personal check or money order for the I-130 filing fee ($420 as of 2016) written out to the Department of US Homeland Security.

DO NOT forget to sign any of your forms or else they will be considered invalid by USCIS and you will have to start over. It’s so easy to forget!

//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({ google_ad_client: “ca-pub-5881875198710252”, enable_page_level_ads: true });

Visa Online Resources

Beginning to file for a visa. Where did we begin? Google.

The first thing that I did to help myself begin making preparations for this visa was to make a basic outline of all required forms and documents for the I-130 Spouse Visa.

A good place to start getting an idea for the I-130 process can be found here, but don’t become overwhelmed by seeing ALL of the steps (because the entire I-130 process is shown), just let it be a place of reference to start.

Another wonderful place for help anytime throughout your visa process is through visajourney.com. We set up a profile for free and have communicated with several other visa applicants that are either finished and have their visa in hand, are in the middle of the visa jungle, or are in the very beginning.

The people on this forum are there to share their experiences and try their best to offer any advice for your specific cause. You may reference their visa timelines, see where their foreign spouses are from, make your own forum topics, answer questions, and find some comfort in knowing you’re not alone in this process.

A fantastic blog that we referenced ritually was immimom.wordpress.com. The title of her blog is “Emigrating Mama’s CR-1 Spousal Visa Guide.” The organization and detailed information about her and her husband’s visa process is a tool that will undoubtedly help you. This blog inspired us very much and we highly recommend her blog to anyone that needs another reference and resource guide online.

YouTube is yet another incredible resource for reference when needed. Before we mailed our I-130 packet we wanted to see what someone else’s packet looked like and we found this video. The channel name for this video is “Justin Pruitt” and the video is an overall walk-through of their I-130 visa packet before the mailed it out to the US from Brazil. It’s very helpful.

If you don’t feel comfortable risking a mistake in any of your filings and have the means, then hiring an immigration lawyer is a fantastic option. Zouhair and I do not have the funds for this reassuring opportunity, so extra research is necessary on our part and the risk of a wrong submission or missing a piece of documentation is a lurking thought in the back of our heads, but we do what we can through all free resources online. (There’s a lot if you look) There are a lot of people that have successfully received their visa without an immigration lawyer, but be careful.

Zouhair and I had just finished our marriage process and we knew that the visa process was not going to be quick, so we dove into filing for a visa as soon as we could (which we wish we would have started even earlier because every day counts with a visa case). Check out our next blog for the exact steps we took.

<script async src=”//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js”></script> <script> (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({ google_ad_client: “ca-pub-5881875198710252”, enable_page_level_ads: true }); </script>