After two months of being an illegal resident in Morocco, I finally renewed my “carte de séjour” last Friday. I managed to get a ten-year visa this time, which gives me an odd sense of peace despite the fact that I don’t plan to stay for more than another six months. If nothing else, I’m allowed to live in Morocco at any point during the next ten years. Here’s a taste of what I had to go through to get there.
Last year, I had a lot of trouble turning my documents in on time because my employer took two months to give me my work attestation (someone in Rabat had to sign it first, which apparently is quite complicated). This year, I did my best to get everything together on time, and headed to the prefecture a full two weeks before my visa would expire.
The spiral staircase of Moroccan bureaucracy
Unfortunately, I chose a day when the lady who puts together the visa applications was in a bad mood. She asked me to provide a document which foreigners are required to get only once, and which I had turned in my first year, and so no longer needed. I pointed that out, saying that the previous year it had also been she, the same Visa Lady, who did not ask for that document. Why did I suddenly need it the third time around? No one knows.
That precious document took two months to acquire. I had to search for all sorts of documents I had never known existed (for example, the history of my health insurance payments, which was blank because I hadn’t been paying health insurance). I was also slowed down by a problem with the electricity company, who asked for my housing contract in order to renew my account for paying electricity bills. They promptly lost the housing contract, and then turned off our water and electricity for the weekend since the account could not be renewed without said contract. I had to shower with a bucket.
All doors lead to nowhere.
When I finally got another housing contract and the other document I needed, I was so late in turning in my papers that I had to run yet another obstacle course around Casablanca in order to be pardoned for my tardiness. First, I had to show up to the prefecture at 8:30am on a specific day. I waited in a long line of other tardy foreigners until my name was called, and I signed a document. I was then told to go to the Tribunal at 11:30am, so I canceled my classes for the afternoon to make time. It took 40 minutes to get to the Tribunal, where I waited outside in the rain (Morocco had experienced a drought up until that very day) with the rest of my tardy foreigner friends from that morning. After one hour, a man came out and called our names again. At the sound of my name (or the Moroccan version of my name, Elanoor Yassir), we were given the thumbs up. Really, the man gave us a thumbs up, and that was it. He didn’t speak much of any French, but what he was trying to communicate was that we could leave and go turn in our papers at the prefecture. I am still asking myself why I didn’t just send someone else to pretend to be me.
This is another police building, by the sea.
Fortunately, the Visa Lady was in an excellent mood this time around. When I went to the prefecture the next day, she called me up to the front of the line. As I handed her my papers, she noticed that I have a Moroccan wedding ring.
“Oh, you got married in Morocco!” She said, and I nodded. “So I think you married a Moroccan?” She asked. “Madame, are you pregnant?”
I smiled at her. “Let’s renew my residency visa!” I said. And she did! Maybe in ten years I’ll get another chance to chat with her.