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.

I guess 3 times is a Charm

Finally, I got my offer letter from ADEC yesterday. I know I already accepted a position with Qatar so why am I so happy to get this…

Dear Kennesha,

Teach Away would like to congratulate you on receiving a letter of offer from the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC). Please be advised that signing a letter of offer secures your position for an August Term 2016start, provided you meet all visa requirements….”
Finally, I got my offer letter from ADEC yesterday.  I know I already accepted a position with Qatar so why am I so happy to get this… Well if you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’ve applied to teach in Abu Dhabi three times.  I was turned down twice and low and behold, they said YES, on the third try.

The other teachers that I speak to on occasion through text also received their offers.  Congratulations Nancy.

The wait was so long….But I am sincerely happy for them! I can always visit my new friends in Abu Dhabi.

In the meantime, the paperwork continues for Qatar.  One of the most daunting task has been schooling for the boys.  I have applied for admissions for them at Qatar Academy Doha and at GEMS for my youngest son, since GEMS only goes up to 10th grade at this time. I’ve also received an email from Qatar Academy Sidra with the necessary paperwork to complete for enrollment.  I’ve looked at other schools too: American Community School of Qatar, American School of Doha.  But their tuition is above what Qatar Foundations will reimburse for tuition and that somewhat defeats the purpose of choosing Qatar so I will stick to where they will pay the tuition.

 

It is also difficult to process all the paperwork when you have to wait on businesses, postal service and other people.  Fortunately, my ex-husband and I are in an ok place.  I picked him up so that he and I could take care of the paperwork that needed his signature.  Without hesitation he handed over his passport so I could make a copy (yes they requested a copy of my ex-husband’s passport to confirm signature matches); he signed the applications for new passports for the boys; he signed the letter saying he gives permission for me to sponsor my boys in QATAR.  Now that the letter is signed and I located our divorce degree, I have to send them off to be translated into Arabic.  Once they come back, I can send them off with the other documents to be authenticated.

My new passport arrived yesterday with 24 pages, more room for stamps.  I am hoping the boys passports arrive within the next few days.  I need their birth certificates to go in the stack of papers needing to be authenticated.  They had to be sent away with the passport applications. The boys have both gotten their physicals and blood work back.  Mine is complete; I just have to go back to the doctors to have him complete the paperwork, since the lab forgot to check for my blood type, and since it had been more than 72 hours, I had to go back and get poked again. !OUCH!  My husband still has to get his blood work done. My FBI and criminal history report has arrived.  Still waiting for Darryl’s Criminal history report to arrive. The boy’s current schools sent over their transcripts and grade reports.  I am still waiting for the charter school that they attended 2 years ago to respond to my email for their grade reports.  That is the difference in Private and Public schools, Professionalism and ease of receiving responses.  The boys need 3 years of grades.  I will probably just wind up locating their report cards from 2 years ago.

I’ve told my jobs that I won’t be returning for Fall.  Thank goodness I don’t burn bridges when it comes to money, because they told me I can always come back.  I’ve also told the teachers I coach and the principal at the school.  Needless to say they were all happy and excited for me.

In the meantime, I am trying to get my house in order, cleaning, buying bins, organizing. My basement is full of early learning and elementary supplies.  This is giving me an excuse to CLEANU UP.  I’m also shopping for 100% cotton, rayon and linen clothing.  This is giving me an excuse to SHOP.  Like I need an excuse for that.  lol. Till next time…

 

All I see is $$$$$

At least they give me some of the $$$$ back

Yesterday I received an email from my Teach Away Rep for Abu Dhabi.  At this time ADEC would like to move forward with my application to the hiring department and an offer letter would be going out within the next few weeks.  I quickly informed the other girls via the text chat group and within a few hours they all responded that they too had received the same email.  It’s crazy because for a brief moment I felt sad.  I felt sad because I really like the women from the NY interview and they would all be together and have each other but me, I would be alone in Qatar without any of them.  I know it probably sounds petty but it felt good to be around like minded women and people that were sort of in a similar situation as me, feeling what I feel and anticipating what I’m anticipating.  Still, I feel good about my decision to go with Qatar.  It’s a better choice for me and my family.

There is so much to do to get ready.  There is so much to do just to get all paperwork to QF.

I’m in the process of trying to enroll the boys in QF Doha.  From what I’ve heard it’s a really good private school that is a part of QF, so the tuition would be free for the boys.  They offer the IB curriculum, and many more wonderful opportunities.  I completed the admission’s application and the fee was $500 Riyals which is about $137 U.S. dollars for each application.  I had to try 4 different credit cards to pay the fee before one finally worked, due to international transactions.  I had to attach a picture of the boys, medical records, immunization cards, last 3 end of year report cards, pict of passports as well as my passport.  Some of the documents I did not have yet so I uploaded blank documents so that I could submit the applications.  I spoke to my QF director to inform her of the completed applications and she told me that she already enrolled them in QF Sidra as a backup, which was great.  I hear that Sidra is okay but Doha is the best.

I’ve sent my H.R. director, copies of the boys birth certificates, my marriage certificate, copies of my passport, Darryl’s passport (my husband), and the boys passport.  All of this is necessary to begin the process of our visas.  I must get 2 pre-employment Health examination forms completed by a doctor, as well as complete Blood Group Reports for each member of my family.  This means all of us have to see a doctor and have lab work done.  That means ($) copays and ($) fees for form completions. Did I mention I had to pay $137.00 for both school application fees?

I must send several documents to be authenticated: Transcript and degree, children’s birth certificates, marriage certificate, ($) Criminal Record check for Darryl and I, ($) FBI record check for Darryl and I. This means all documents must be ($) notarized, ($) stamped by the issuing state, ($) stamped by Wash D.C., $stamped by the Qatar embassy. I have decided to use ProEx to complete this process.  I will ($) pay them, ($)mail them all the documents and they will take care of the whole authentication process.

I need a letter signed by my ex-husband and father to my children verifying that he does not object to me sponsoring my children in Qatar.  Then this letter needs to be ($) translated in Arabic and notarized.  I’ve found a company to take care of this too.  But first I have to get ‘him’ to sign the paper.

The boy’s passport expire in a month so you know what that means.  I have to ($) pay for new ones and because they are minors, there is no renewing, only $pay the whole application fee.  My passport expires in two years, which means it will expire before my contract is up.  You know what that means, I have to ($) renew mine.  Oh we also need ($) passport pictures for the new passports.

On top of all of this, all of us need 12-16 passport style pictures to travel along with us to Qatar.  They use these pictures for everything, visas, Driver’s license, liquor license etc… Passport pictures usually run about $8 for 2.  That would cost me over $200 for all of us.  So I went to Office Depot, ($) purchased some photo paper for $8.00 on sale.  I put up a white chart paper on my wall and we all took head and shoulder shots on our phones. With a purchase of some ($) printer ink, we were good to go.  We used the gov’t passport website to help us crop the pictures correctly and WAHLA!

At least they give me some of the $$$$ back for all this paperwork when I arrive in Doha, Qatar if I don’t go broke first!