Casablanca Consulate – Visa Interview – 10/10/2014

So on 10/10 my husband and I woke up at 6 am to the sound of the athan- a feat for me as I have been battling a cold since before we arrived on Tuesday of that week on the over night train from Taza.

I had made sure the night before that we packed our luggage – inshaAllah – for the return trip to Taza the afternoon of interview.  I made sure my husband had his packet of copies and his packet of originals.

We arrived at the Casablanca consulate at 7:45 am – my husband complained that no one had arrived as early as we did.  I told him to be quiet – in America on time is late and 5 minutes early or more is on time.

By 8 am my husband had crossed the street and went into the consulate – not before almost giving me a heart attack – about where the passport sized photos were located – luckily in my wallet.

The consulate personel didn’t want to allow me into wait with my husband inside the consulate for his interview and tried to get me to go back across the street to wait – where I would have had to spend MORE money on purchasing a drink at a smoke filled cafe.  No thank you sir – I am sick with a cold and pregnant – please just let me sit here on the bench.  I am not bothering anyone nor am I a security risk.

Finally the security relented and just let me sit on the bench in front of the consulate to wait for my husband.  I waited from 8 am until 12:30 pm for my husband to come out of the consulate.  I didn’t even ask if I could use the bathroom during this time because I had given my husband my passport to take into the interview – because its says “The bearer of this passport is a Peace Corps Volunteer,” and it has all the stamps in and out of Morocco in that passport – so I knew I couldn’t get back through security without it.

Finally my husband emerges from the consulate with the following papers in hand – a 221 g sheet with two areas highlighted – see photo below and a i864A that had been illegibility scrawled on.

I am pissed. Why you might be wondering? Because in the two weeks BEFORE this interview I sent emails – on 9/11, 9/19, 9/23 and 9/24 – all asking for clarification on the following:
1. An interview letter – so that my husband could get his medical exam done by one of the two panel doctors in Morocco
2. That they had the original marriage certificate and translation that I sent to the National Visa Center with all the support documents for the DS 260
3. That the corrections I made to the i864 per NVC instructions were correct and if any OTHER documentation needed corrections before the interview
4. If our case which had been expedited – had even arrived at the consulate in casablanca

Of all the emails I sent – only one email was responded to – and that was the email asking for the interview letter.

I got multiple calls from the Casablanca consulate before the interview – that I missed because I either didn’t hear my phone or was in an area with no cell signal in Taza – that when I tried to call back – never got a person, went to voicemail boxes that were not set up, hand my call dropped and/or hand the money on my phone run out because I had to call the Embassy in Rabat to be transferred to the Consulate in Casablanca just to get a real person on the line. I even got told by the operater at the consulate to call back in an hour once – only to end up at her unset up voicemail box again and again.
So I decided after having an emotional melt down I wasn’t going to take this sitting down and wasn’t leaving Casablanca without clarification of exact what the consular officer wanted and a clear direct series of next steps of what I should do and what the consulate would do.

So my husband asked the security guard – when should we come back today? The security guard said – 1:30pm – ok I told him I will see you then.

So we go eat lunch – I call my mother on the phone and wake her up because of the time difference between Morocco and California – and cry. My husband tells me he feels horrible and I said – it was nothing you did – its the horrible blank wall of bureaucracy of the consulate and every agency I have encountered during this visa process.

So after eating a huge burger at the Americana Grill across the street- I walked back to the consulate – crossed the street and was told to go wait across the street although its 1:30pm by the Moroccan security service/police.

So I walk back and wait patiently for 15 minutes – nothing happens – so I walk back and I say in Darija – I need to speak to someone about these papers my husband got from his interview. The Moroccan security tries to tell me again – go back across the street – but I have had it with them – I pull out my passport and say in English – so being a US citizen means nothing at the US Consulate in Casablanca?

OH- the Moroccan security and police are stunned – An American that looks Moroccan but isnt at ALL Moroccan and speaks Darija? Thats RIGHT – RPCV Morocco – MoFo’s!

They let me through – so I sit they bring yet ANOTHER Moroccan to the bullet proof glass window – I tell the woman – No I need Immigrant Visa Services – Not American Citizen Services please – I have questions about the 221g paper my husband got. She says ok – but apparently that information didn’t process well because I get ANOTHER Moroccan – that again says, “Oh your here for American Citizen Services?”

NO! I have questions about the 221g my husband was given – I need clarification on it – and the consular officer requested that I be interviewed. We do NOT live in Casablanca but in Taza. So can I please speak to someone in the immigrant visa section??? or Can I have the chief counsel of the section or the whole consulate?!

By this time I am feeling sick as a dog with a fever, needing to pee, super sweaty and pregnant. Does what I am saying in English not compute for these people at the consulate I am wondering.

Finally that last Moroccan waves me through. WHO KNEW it would be so difficult for a US Citizen to get into their own consulate to ask clarifying questions?!

I go through security – get told to turn off my phone and leave it with them.

Then I get told go up the ramp and sit in the immigrant visa section. So I walk up the ramp and all the windows except the cashiers window have blinds drawn over them – more of the jail type communication windows – full bullet proof glass and a phone you pick up to speak with the person on the other side – so everyone else in the room gets to over hear your entire conversation when the room is full – so much for privacy!
I sit down in a chair and in a couple of minute an elderly man with glasses and hair like Albert Einstein pulls up the blind on the first window and calls me over.

I say great are you the person who can answer my questions?
Dont give me attitude is the first thing out of his mouth – consular officer (CO)

Well – I really wouldnt have an attitude if I hadn’t had to basically scale the wall of faceless unhelpful bureaucracy just to get physically inside the consulate I think to myself, if consulate staff in the immigrant visa bureau had answered my emails or had a working direct phone number!

WTF.. let me just act like butter won’t melt in my mouth.

Are you planning to leave Morocco? :CO

Not without my husband and his visa in hand.

Why did you come to Morocco?:CO

I replied Peace Corps.  I served from 2011 – 2013 here.  I met my husband during my service and decided to stay after my service ended in November 2013.  As it was our first year of marriage and I dont know of any marriages surviving long distances or absences apart especially the first year.

Just so we are clear are you interviewing me or is this just a conversation? since you haven’t said anything one way or another.

Oh this is your interview :CO

Mental Eye Roll – Way to go with sharing that information up front CO.

Tell me more about your plans to return to the US? : CO
How far along in the pregnancy are you? :CO

(Again 99% of the information this Consular Officer is asking for is all in either the expedite paperwork OR NVC OR USCIS paperwork)

So can you now clarify which paperwork you need? From who? And what my next steps are? I ask the CO

An i864A from your co sponsors spouse – I asked why because the cosponsor is the one taking financial responsibility for my husband. Seemed odd to me and I or my co sponsor would have done that a long time ago if NVC had said that was an issue with the i864A co sponsor packet at any point.

CO responded because the spouse lives under the same roof as the co sponsor.

CO: I don’t know the fax number but let me go ask someone who knows it. He asks someone – they dont know – they ask someone else that person finally does know it.

We want either 2013 W2s from your co sponsor OR your co sponsors spouse – as we can’t tell from the 1040’s or Tax Transcripts Provided who’s income stream is who’s. (Again something they could have answered me about in one of the many emails I sent to the immigrant visa section at the consulate) I said my co sponsor – who is my mom makes over the 45k a year that you are looking for alone. So could I just send in her 2013 W2? and not her spouses?

CO: Sure
CO: You wouldn’t lie to me about the amount of money your co sponsor makes?

I replied no why would I? It would mean my husband doesn’t get his visa and other than that – why would I lie about my mothers income? In fact let me swear to it. I raised my left hand since the right hand held the phone receiver.

CO: Wrong hand.

I swapped hands and I said – I swear the information that I am telling you is true. I will swear it on what ever I need to swear it on.

CO: Even the flying spaghetti monster?

Yes I replied even on him.

And what is the best way to submit this information / paperwork ? As its another expense I have to pay out of pocket if I have my mom one day express this paperwork on a weekend to Morocco from California and I don’t live in Casablanca… I live in Taza and there are no UPS, Fedex, Aramex etc type places in the entire city – I would need to go to Fez to get these documents potentially.

CO: I don’t know the fax number but let me go ask someone who knows it. He asks someone – they dont know – they ask someone else that person finally does know it. Writes it on the top of the 221 g sheet for me.

CO: You aren’t so bad off after all.

CO: So what I am going to do because I dont think you would lie to me is .. I am going to keep your husbands passport. Give you this receipt to pick up his visa on the expectation you turn in all this paperwork for the 221g before the end of the weekend.

What are the next steps I should expect from the consulate I asked?

CO: If all the paperwork I requested is returned before the Columbus Day Holiday the consulate will observe your husband will get his visa by Friday. The soonest he could have the visa in hand is Wednesday due to the holiday – again if all the paperwork is faxed and arrived before Monday.

*Mental Fist Pump*

So I walked out of the consulate with my husbands receipt for his visa after getting a 221g!

Questions CO asked my husband in his interview –

Is this your first marriage?

When did you first meet your wife?

What is your wife’s religion?

How long has your wife been Muslim?

What was the last time you saw your wife?