How the Idea of the Visa Came?

Before Hannah came to Morocco we had a lot of dreams. We were preparing to have a job in Morocco and build our life and make a family here. The idea of getting a visa and going to Hannah’s country came from her.

We were coming back home from Casablanca when we went to collect the affidavit of marriage from the Embassy. Hannah surprised me when she told me “I’m going to apply for a visa for you and take you with me to the USA. There we have a lot of opportunities together contrary to Morocco.” She tried to find a job but she found just two opportunities either as an English teacher or at a call center.

 Morocco Mall – Casablanca, Morocco April 29, 2016

 She has a diploma in Photojournalism, but even if you try to find a job in the same specialty, your luck is lacking because the languages of the country are Arabic and French.

We applied for the visa April 29th and we are still waiting for it; now we’re half of the way there. I’m so excited for my new life in a new country that’s going to teach me and give me more experience in my life. 2017 will be the starter of the new life in USA Insha Allah.

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We’re pregnant!

“Do you want children?”

“One day, yes, when I’m financially secure and can support a family.”

The typical question and typical answer most of us have witnessed in our life at some point.

Well, I am having a baby and I’m not financially secure. I don’t even have a job. I’m not even in my home country and I don’t know exactly when I will be.

Currently, I am 22 weeks and 4 days pregnant; over the halfway mark to meeting my child! ❤

My bump is slowly growing. I feel my baby boy moving, kicking, punching, and break dancing at various times throughout the day. It makes me and my husband smile and laugh.

Should we be laughing? We’re not “prepared.” Should we be fearful and regretful?

I think enjoying this pregnancy and looking forward to parenthood is one of the most beautiful aspects of life.

Do you think my bank account should steal this happiness from me? You can think that, but I will not believe you or agree.

“Why have a baby now? Why not wait until your visa is finished and you both find jobs? You don’t have a plan. You’re irresponsible. How are you going to be good parents?”

I will be honest. These thoughts cross my mind, as I’m sure the thoughts have passed through my friends and family’s minds when they’re not showering me in best wishes and hopes for our growing family. Every situation in life has a good and a bad side based on perspective.

This pregnancy came at the perfect time. How do I know? Because God doesn’t make mistakes with timing.

I’m carrying a brand new life that I already love in a way that I can’t explain. It’s a new feeling of love. It’s the love only a mother can proudly feel and I am one lucky woman to be this child’s mother and to share this parenthood chapter with my husband, Zouhair (one handsome father he will be)!

I am more than excited to meet our little peena peena and grow as a mother spiritually, emotionally, and physically (in the belly, of course) as we approach nine months and the birth of our baby boy!

Our Marriage: Moroccan Process

Our Marriage: Moroccan Process

This is part II of Our Marriage Process. We will explain the processes and documents for the Moroccan resident, so here we go!

The information in this post is all based off of our experience in Tetouan, Morocco. The exact requirements and processing might vary based on which city you will be married in within Morocco.

Prior to your fiancé arriving to Morocco with his/her documents (see all documents the US Citizen will need HERE), have him/her mail you the documents he/she has collected to be translated into Arabic. This will save you time!Translations take between 2 to 3 days to complete depending on the amount of documents you have. The cost is hefty at around $10 per document, which is about 100 MAD (Moroccan Dirham).

Also, make sure you are happy with your translator and look over his/her translations to be sure they are correct. We found a couple mistakes in our translations from Arabic to English. The translator happily corrected them free of charge. If you are satisfied with his/her work, keep a business card handy because you will need to use them again if you are planning to eventually apply for a visa.

Secondly, you (the Moroccan resident) need to have all of your required documents collected before your fiancé arrives in Morocco. I didn’t have my documents before Hannah came and it would have saved us a lot of running around Tetouan had I done so before her arrival. You live, you learn.

The Moroccan Resident Documents:

– Police record حسن السيرة من مركز الشرطة
– Criminal record of the court. حسن السيرة من المحكة
– Birth certificate شهادة الميلاد
– Certificate of celibacy or divorce decree شهادة العزوبة أو الطلاق
– Courtship certificate (Application for marriage) The celibacy certificate should be received one day prior to the receipt of courtship.

– Certificate of good health شهادة طبية
– 8 pictures ثمانية صور

After all documents from both of you have been collected, translated, and certified you will take your stack of papers (and pictures) to the court. The processing will begin and you will need to travel back and forth to the court to know when your case is ready for the next step. (Yes, very annoying. If you have an Adoul from the beginning, your case will be much easier).

After initial processing, the court will send your case to the principal police office for more processing. The police office will contact you to have an interview.

The interview was simple for us. The majority of the questions were related to documents that were sitting directly in front of him. He asked to see both of our diplomas, he asked what Hannah’s father’s occupation was, and made notes of our responses on the outside of a folder. He collected our photos and told us that he would call us when the processing was complete.

After the police interview you wait to send your case back to the court to process again, this time you will have an interview with a judge.

Again, the questions were simple. For example, some questions were:
“How and when did you meet?” “What are your jobs?” “How did you decide to get married?” “What does your family think of your relationship?”

If the judge is satisfied with your answers, then you will need to contact an Adoul (if you haven’t already).  It is best if you have an Adoul from the beginning. They will help your process go much more quickly. We were lucky with our Adoul, he was always available to help us whenever we needed him and his work was very fast.

Take your documents to the Adoul and wait for him to process your documents.

This is the last step. The Adoul finishes the marriage by providing a marriage certificate for both of you to complete and that’s it! You’re legally united and married.

Our Marriage: US Citizen Process

If you’re like us, the marriage process requires a bit more attention than usual and the process can be rather slow, especially if you’re not prepared for the paper trail and you’re in a foreign country.

Hopefully sharing our experience will help you if you are looking to marry someone that is living in

another country.

Google is the first stop. I used the marriage information of the US Embassy website for Morocco. I didn’t just use it. I printed it out, made highlights, and notes all over to organize what documents I could acquire in the US and what I needed to wait to collect in Morocco.

Unfortunately, this list did not provide every document that I specifically needed, but luckily Zouhair had a document from an l’Adoul, a religious man who is certified by the government, to follow and piece in anything I was missing from my list.

The documents required for the US citizen:

1. An Affidavit of Nationality and Eligibility to Marry. This document is obtained at the U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca by appointment at: http://morocco.usembassy.gov/appointments-2011.html. This document must be obtained in Morocco.

There is a $50 fee for a Consular Officer to notarize the document. This affidavit is valid for six months from the date it is signed and notarized at the U.S. Consulate.

 Be sure to make an appointment online before you go at https://evisaforms.state.gov/In structions/ACSSchedulingSystem.asp and print your appointment confirmation page to take with you to the embassy.

If you plan to go with your fiance to the embassy, be aware that he/she may not enter the embassy without their own individual appointment, so plan accordingly for your spouse to wait around an hour (depending on how busy the office is) for you to finish gathering your affidavit from the embassy.

 Before you enter the embassy you may not have any electronics and you and your belongings will be checked by security.

 Once inside the embassy the process is rather simple. Give the man or woman your primary documents and they will process them. After, you will swear that you agree to enter into marriage with a Moroccan, you pay your fees ($100 and credit cards are accepted), and you are given a piece of paper that says you can get married.

 2. Copies of the biographic page of your passport and the page containing your entry date to Morocco.

I notarized mine at home while in Indiana and it was free.

3. If divorced, provide original or certified copies of proof of dissolution of any previous marriage(s).

4. If former spouse is deceased, provide original or certified copy of his or her death certificate (s).

5. Provide an original or certified copy of your birth certificate.

Try to get a certified copy of your birth certificate, or if you can, take two originals with you. I only took one original certificate and they do not return the original to you.

6. Evidence of employment from employer in the United States or source of income.

I took copies of some pay stubs. It didn’t seem like they really cared that this was included in our documents, but it’s on the list, so take a few to be safe.

7. A written statement indicating your intention to marry in Morocco.

 Like the proof of employment document, they didn’t seem to care about this document, but write up why you want to marry your fiance, print it out, sign it, and notarize it (in the US if possible to save money on the notary service).

8. If resident in Morocco, a copy of the residency card.

9. If resident in Morocco, obtain a Moroccan police record from the Ministry of Justice in Rabat (Office of Penal Affairs and Pardons). (For U.S. citizens, resident in Morocco, you will need both an American and Moroccan police record.)

10. If male, a notarized statement of religious denomination or a certified copy of a conversion document to Islam.  (Conversion documents are obtained from and notarized by Adouls, or religious/court notarials, at the Ministry of Justice in Rabat.)  Women do not need this document.

11. A medical certificate of good health from a doctor in Morocco. This document must be obtained in Morocco.

I assumed this would be difficult and scary, but it was one of the easiest things we did. We found a doctor, walked in, waited two minutes, my husband spoke with the doctor in Arabic for a medical certificate, and without taking weight, temperature, or blood pressure, we had our certificate and signature.

The price for the “check-up” and the certificate was $5 for one person.

 12. Four (4) recent passport photos (3cm x 4cm, please note this is the same size required for a Moroccan passport).

I had my photos done by CVS in Indiana prior to leaving for Morocco. If you have the camera and the patience, I would recommend doing it yourself. I believe the price was $12 for 1 photo and if you need 4 photos, it’s a big chunk of change.

If you wait to take your passport photos in Morocco, we found the price was $2 for four photos. Mucho better.

13. An American police record must be obtained from a police department in the state where you last resided or from the FBI before coming to Morocco.

Find an electronic fingerprint location in your area. It will save you so much time than sending paper fingerprints in to the FBI.

In Indiana, I went to identogo.com and found a location only four miles from my home that takes electronic fingerprints. Find an agency and call and make an appointment. I paid for everything over the phone and when my appointment came, I drove myself to the location of the printing, gave them my name, they took my fingerprints and within a week I had my record. Very, very easy.

14. This item was not listed on the US Embassy list of required documents, but was required in Morocco and that was a celibacy certificate.

This document certifies that you have had no previous marriages. You may obtain yours by going to your local court house in the records division. It was free for me and was rather quick to acquire.

15. A court record from Morocco. This document must be obtained in Morocco.

The claim is that this document must be acquired from Rabat, but we found that this document could be easily acquired online and receive it from the primary court in the same city that your fiance is living.

The website we used: http://casierjudiciaire.justice.gov.ma

We used 
http://casierjudiciaire.justice.gov.ma for me to receive a court record from Morocco. The courts in Morocco require this document for marriage. It was very easy to achieve. After we requested the document online at casejudiciare we picked up the record at the primary court in my husband’s city of Tetouan. If you request this document in the morning the record can be ready for you at the court the same day (at least in Tetouan).

After you have all of your documents be sure to make copies and place them in a sturdy folder that is durable and will last nicely through your travels across the ocean.

When you arrive in Morocco you will need to translate all documents in English to Arabic. The price was 10 USD per one paper for us. If you are comfortable with it, you could send your documents to your partner in Morocco to be translated and ready prior to your arrival.

4ebff2_f95fa9c1704f455b957055c40881af73-mv2Best of luck to you all in your journey of international marriage. We hope this information from our experiences help you!

How We Met: Online Love

“Good morning, Habibti.”

Who’s saying it? “Arabic-name-boy,” or as he is legally named, Zouhair, the boy I had been talking to through various social media for a few months at that point in time.

What does Habibti mean? It is Arabic and it means “my love.”

Our pen pal friendship had blossomed into a romance.  We spoke day and night through the autumn and winter seasons. We watched movies together (even with the five hour time difference) we talked politics, economics, religion, culture, family, dreams, aspirations, cats (my cute cat Sophie), and love.

A chilly November morning I woke up to messages in my WhatsApp from Zouhair, which quickly planted a smile on my face and a warm, glowing feeling through my body.

“Why do I feel so good when we talk?” I wondered. I pretended to wonder, but I knew.

I had been thinking about expressing my love for Zouhair, but something had been holding me back; fear of loss most likely. I allowed myself time to think about the consequences of telling Zouhair that I loved him, but I felt stupid. Why am I keeping this in? Love is the most beautiful gift in this world. If you love someone, just tell him or her! There’s no strings tied to this expression unless you want them to be there. So I decided to leave all strings freedom to fly in the wind.

“I love you, Zouhair. I wanted to tell you. It’s true.” (Kiss face emoji)

 I didn’t feel stress. I didn’t feel self-conscious or worried. I felt peace and happiness for speaking this truth that was felt so strongly within me.

I watched Zuhair begin to type back.

(Heart face emoji, kiss face emoji, heart emoji) “I love you too, Hannah. I’m very happy.”

Can you feel the feels? I sure did.

A week or so later I researched how to say “my love” in Arabic and found Habibi and Habibti. The first is masculine and the latter is feminine.

After thoroughly investigating the use of this word through forums of English-speaking people asking Arabic-speaking people the same question of “How do I say (my love) in Arabic?” I found that Habibi and Habibti were correct.

What happened next? A message with the word “Habibi” sprinkled with a few emojis followed by a message with the word “Habibti” and a few emojis and two very happy people with an ocean in between them, but a connection that left a feeling of no distance at all.

How We Met: #Instagram

When you imagine or dream of your future husband or wife, most of us have an idea in our mind as to how he/she will be. In my case, I imagined more of the personality traits that characterized my love more than anything else. Realistically, I assumed my future husband would be close by in my city or maybe in my state. I was incorrect.

A friend of mine went on a work trip as a photographer through Rustic Pathways to Morocco to introduce traveling and life abroad to a group of American high school students. I was very proud of her for taking on such a huge role and life experience.

I perused her Instagram feed as I usually did to see her photos of her travels, and I saw a photo of myself from a recent time we spent together. To amuse myself, embarrassingly and a bit narcissistically, I looked at the Instagram users of who “liked” this portrait of myself. I found a boy, or “Instagram user” with an Arabic name. I was intrigued.

 I somewhat quickly found myself at this “Arabic-name-boy’s” Instagram feed. I first saw he was very attractive and then I saw that he was indeed Moroccan. I scrolled through his photos and decided in my mind to speak to him. I always wanted a foreign pen pal and I wanted to one day make a visit myself to Morocco.

It was around 9pm in Indiana and at this point, I didn’t put two and two together that Morocco was 5 hours ahead, so I thought to myself, “What do I have to lose?” He’ll be awake.” I suavely sent a quick Instagram DM (direct message) to his account, which read, “Hi there! My friend worked in Morocco this summer for two months and I’ve been wanting to visit since. Are you living there now?”

He didn’t respond. Not until the next day that is!

I woke up to a notification from Instagram and I fought through the morning fog and remembered “Arabic-name-boy.” His message read, “Hi, good morning. Yes, I live here now in Tetouan city.”

This conversation, unexpectedly, lead us to migrate to WhatsApp, which lead us to Facebook, which lead us to an international friendship that became very special to me.

Our conversations were daily and we learned so much from each other. I never knew so much about the religion of Islam and I felt very enlightened and refreshed from what the American media portrays. The more we spoke the more I couldn’t wait to book a ticket to Morocco.