It's that time of year again. Time to fill all the paperwork needed for my new work contract. Every year the documents I am required to provide change. One year I need the papers for my house and a copy of my marriage act. The next year, those documents are not required but I must provide a copy of my college diploma and teaching certifications along with translations in Arabic. Now I'm sure I provided these papers the first year but this year they are now requested again. There are forms which must be filled out in triplicate -- I can't copy the original but must laboriously complete the same form with the same information --three times for one set of papers and five times for another. Oh yeah, and it's all in French which I barely comprehend.
These documents are next sent to Rabat and Casablanca for review and approval. Approval that comes in the form of a stamp and a scribbled signature. This can take up to 2 months if the authorizing individual happens to have scheduled a vacation that coincides with the arrival of my paperwork for it seems there is only 1 person who can approve the contract. Once this is done, I have one of the precious documents necessary to renew my work visa.
Now the fun really begins because a completely different set of forms, along with this new work contract, need to be provided to the police in order to renew my visa. Nine passport photos must be provided and money must be paid for a stamp which will ultimately find it's way onto the visa/identity card.
But before I can present these forms to the police, a trip to the Beledia is necessary to notorize a copy of appropriate pages in my passport and some other official papers -- exactly what they are escapes me now. I seem to block out the memory each year because it ends up taking a month or more to chase down the paper (this is after the two months needed to get the work contract) and fulfill all the requirements for copies, stamps, notarizations, etc.
But that's not the best part. The best part is the trip to the police station where I must present all these papers which took months and months to gather to officials who don't exactly find their work fulfilling. Perhaps its because they are forced to work with ancient manual typewriters with carbon paper behind desks piled precariously high with folders and paperwork from seemingly thousands of others just like me. Every day the line of visa applicants stretches around the corner and these officers are behind schedule before their workday even begins. Day after day after day.
I consider myself incredibly fortunate if, by some miracle, I'm not sent away to gather some other obscure document or trade the stamp I purchased for one in a different color or make additional photocopies. Any business with these officials must be conducted in Arabic or French and woe to the foreigner who tries to speak English. But once all the hoops have been jumped through, I only have to wait another two months to get my new visa. Once my new visa arrives 5 months have passed since the whole process began which means that by the time I get my new annual visa I only have 7 months left before it expires again and need at least 2 of those 7 months to collect the paperwork all over again.
Thank God I am eligible to apply for a 10 year visa this year.