Just in Case

Here are some things I have done to kind of prepare for this major move…

“I don’t really see anything packed”

That’s what a guest said when she came into my house.  From others points of view, it may not look like I’ve done much to get ready for my move that is less than 60 days away but I’ve been quite busy.

Here are some things I have done to kind of prepare for this major move.

  • Completed an application for Global Entry-https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry/how-apply
  • Registered with the U.S. Embassy-https://step.state.gov/step/
  • Applied for an International driver’s permit-http://www.dmv.org/international-driver-permits.php

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  • Started purchasing necessities in excess to last almost a year: Secret Clinical Strength Deoderant (It has been mentioned in one of my Facebook groups that you can’t find this over there and with that heat, I will need it) Aveeno moisturizing cream (I have eczema and this works well), eye drops, herbs, allergy medicines, cold medicines, favorite perfumes, etc…
  • Sold my truck
  • Sold my day care furniture
  • Microblading (that’s a conversation for another day but it’s sort of eyebrow tatoos)
  • Set up dates to have lunch/dinner with certain people
  • Purchased a new unlocked Iphone (major for me as I am a androidian, is that even a word)
  • Cleaned my kids closets and dressers and sent their clothes that they won’t be wearing to ThredUP (hoping to get some money back)

So I may not be packed but I’ve been quite busy.

P.S. The first three bullets mentioned above were done just in case.  I highly recommend you do them too, if you plan on traveling abroad for any reasons.

 

 

 

 

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Authentication

So that’s how you get documents authenticated.

Since one of the reasons I started this blog was to assist others on a similar journey, let’s discuss the process of authentication.  This seems to be one of the most frustrating and drawn out parts of teaching abroad. So let me try to make it as understandable as possible.

Although I am preparing to work in Qatar, it seems a lot of the authentication process overlaps across the Middle East.

Your most recent college degree needs to be authenticated.  You can use a copy, attach your transcript to it and notarize together.  For Qatar, you also have to obtain a letter from the school on letterhead stating that the majority of your classes were taken in person instead of online.  I attached this letter too.  Then this needs to be attested at the state level, federal level and Embassy of the country you will be working.  Get this done right away. Oddly, I did not have to get my teaching certification attested but I did have to present it.

You will need to obtain your State criminal history clearance.  In PA, you can request this online at

https://epatch.state.pa.us/Home.jsp

but if you want it to come to you already notarized you can print the form, complete it, and mail it in with a $13.00 money order, like I did.  It comes back pretty quickly too.  Once you receive it notarized or get it notarized, then you will need to get it attested at the state level, federal level and Embassy of the country you will be working.

You will also need FBI clearances.  Some people use a Channeler to get it done quicker; there is a list on the website.  I would recommend to just go thru the FBI directly this way you know it’s correct and will be accepted.

https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/identity-history-summary-checks

The processing time directly through the FBI is long, approximately 12-14 weeks but once you get it, it doesn’t need to be notarized (at least mine did not) or attested by the state since it is not from the state.  However, it will need to be authenticated at the federal level and at the Embassy of the country you will be working.  Start this process right away

If you are married, your husband will also need state and FBI clearances authenticated. If you have children from a previous relationship, you may need additional information to sponsor them.  For ADEC, you need a letter from the father stating that he is okay with you sponsoring them.  For Qatar, a letter from my ex-husband did not suffice since we had a custody order.  If you are in a similar situation, pay close attention to this part because this part was the most exasperating.  You must get your custody order modified in court.  For me this meant paying a fee, requesting a court date, talking to my ex-husband, waiting for the court date, going to court and getting a copy of the order signed by a judge.  Then you have to get the Clerk of Common Pleas to certify, stamp and sign it.  For Philadelphia, this was a separate court than family court and a separate fee, and I had to physically go to City Hall to get help on this matter.  Once that is done, you have to get it attested at the state level, then federal and finally the Embassy of the country you will be working.

To obtain an Apostille or Certification at the state level in PA, it needs to be done through the PA Department of State, Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation in Harrisburg.  There is a $15.00 per document fee.  You can mail it to Harrisburg or walk in and have it taken care of right away.  They are pretty efficient. Here is what the first attestation looks like:

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The U.S. Department of State Office of Authentications accepts requests via mail in, walk in and appointments.  They are located in Washington, D.C.  The fee is $8.00 per document.  Appointments are only for emergencies and walk ins can leave documents and pick them back up completed approximately 3 days later. Here is what it looks like at this level:

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The last factor in the authentication process is at the Embassy of the country you will be working. Qatar has three Embassies in the USA, one in NY, Washington and Texas.  Which embassy you will need to send your documents for authentication depends on where your documents originated. For instance, my degree, state criminal clearance and custody modification order would go to the Qatar Embassy in NY but my federal clearances would got to the one in Washington.

I completed my state Apostilles on my own, since Harrisburg is a short 2 hour drive away and they completed them on the spot, except for that one time I mailed my custody modification but it wasn’t right so they sent it right back.  Once it was corrected I took it up there myself.  For the U.S. Dept. of State and Qatar Embassy authentications, I used a company to take care of it for me.  This way I didn’t have to drive all over the east coast.  Many people opt to DIY to save money but not me.  I would have spent money on gas, tolls, food, probably hotel stay.  I also avoided a lot of added stress by paying the company to do this for me.  The company I used was PROEX.

http://www.goproex.com/

Cindy is very helpful.  It wasn’t cheap but necessary.  Both times I sent documents to PROEX, I sent three each and it cost me roughly $300 both times.

So that’s how you get documents authenticated. The weird thing about authentications is, it doesn’t prove that the document is really from a certain place or is even legit.  It seems to just confirm the notary before.  I hope this post helps.

 

Qatar Roller Coaster

So let me tell you a little about this Qatar Roller Coaster but please keep in mind that everyone’s situation is different and not everyone takes the same Roller Coaster to QATAR.

If I had hair, I’d be bald, but I already am and therefore have none to pull out and none to lose. If I was light skinned, my face would be red, but I’m brown skinned, so therefore you can’t see my meter go up. LOL. I have to laugh to keep from crying, because this whole process is frustrating and a lot of people in my shoes would have probably given up by now.  But not me, although sometimes for a brief moment of insanity I want to.  But then all of this would have been for nothing, and a HUGE waste of time.  [Side note: I hate wasting time! It is a pet peeve of mine.]

So let me tell you a little about this Qatar Roller Coaster but please keep in mind that everyone’s situation is different and not everyone takes the same Roller Coaster to QATAR.  If your situation is similar to mine, (married, divorced, school age kids by first husband, remarried) then please learn from my mistakes.

  • I drove to Harrisburg to get my modified custody order authenticated and they turned me down.  The paperwork did not have the proper certification or signature.
  • Called PROEX to continue with the authentication of the Degree and state criminal checks so the custody order wouldn’t hold up those items or the beginning process of my visa. [Thank God I did, keep reading]
  • Received my authenticated paperwork back from PROEX! YAY

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  • Went to family court after numerous phone calls to confirm I was doing this right.  Paid $41.58 to have the court certify and sign the custody order.
  • Mailed the form to Harrisburg
  • Harrisburg couldn’t authenticate my custody order. WHY? Because the certification that I paid for, was incorrect.  [SCREAM] Hopefully the information I got today over the phone is correct or hopefully I understand it correctly.  So here is the scoop: My modified custody order needs to be taken to the Court of Common Pleas, City Hall, not Family Court.  It is there where I must get it certified, and signed by the Director of the office of the Judicial Records for another whopping $41.58. [Laugh to keep from crying] Guess what, I have to wait for Harrisburg to mail the order back to me first, then take it down there, then mail it back to Harrisburg.  Blessing: I didn’t drive all the way to Harrisburg this time, I mailed it.  I only wasted the price of 2 stamps this time and avoided a meltdown at the state office.
  • FBI still doesn’t have me in the system (OMG U.S. CAN BE JUST AS SLOW AS THE MIDDLE EAST) but they are opening mail postmarked from March 14, 2016 as of today, which is when mine was postmarked.  So fingers crossed ours gets opened this week. P.S. call them every week to see if they have hit your date.
  • I received an email from the H.R. rep saying my family flights to Doha were secured for August 19th and our housing has been requested.
  • I emailed him back and requested that date be moved up to Aug 15 or 16. Because I am supposed to start work on Aug 21.  If I leave on the 19th, I will probably still be jet-lagged and I need time to settle in.
  • Hey at least our flights are booked.
  • Everyone has their luggage. TJMax has great luggage. Keep checking your favorite TJ Max store, as they get new shipments of luggage weekly.  That is where I purchased the boys luggage.  I got mine from Boscovs.  My sister and brother swear by Boscovs and now I am a believer.  I couldn’t believe I found the luggage I wanted there.
  • I also purchased packing cubes, a luggage scale and a lavender eye mask from Amazon. I don’t want to have messy luggage, go over the luggage capacity or be awake for a 12-14 hour flight.
  • Only 2 weeks left at work! YAY!
  • One of my girlfriends have agreed to take Zoey, the dog! YAY! She will be picked up in July.  I hope she likes her new home.  There’s 6 kids there and another Shih Tzu.
  • Booked a flight to North Carolina for me and the boys for the end of this month.  We are going to visit, Toketha. She is another teacher that is going to Qatar that I met via Facebook.  Her son is around the same age as Zamir, so we thought it would be a good idea that they meet.  They have already connected via the Book.
  • The bright side of the paperwork is that the custody papers should be back from the authentication process from the state and the FBI clearance should all arrive around the same time.  Then I can send them off together to PROEX to have the process completed.  That will be the end of the paperwork, HOPEFULLY!
  • My translated custody order is in the mail.
  • I’m 50% through with my TEFL online course.

So as you can see, there is a lot of behind the scene things that are occurring.  Sometimes I look at others situations and get discouraged because many of the other teachers are already done with all their paperwork.  Some weren’t even required to get documents translated.  Some saved money by completing the whole authentication process on their own.  But hey this is my situation, my life, our journey.  And I’m on it for the long ride.