Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Paperwork is Neverending

In our ger
A little over a year ago, I began to share the news that I was in love with a man from Mongolia and that I would be moving there. A colleague of mine, a French woman married to an American man, recommended that I read Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert (interestingly enough, another co-worker had already loaned the book to me). I was familiar with the movie Eat, Pray, Love which was based on Gilbert's earlier memoir of the same name. Engaged at the time to a man from another country, I took her advice and read the book. 

The book begins with Gilbert and her partner (a citizen of another country) arriving to the U.S. and her partner being told he could no longer come and go. In order for him to be in the U.S., they would NEED to get married. This was not their plan. They had been perfectly happy to cohabitate and each had already been through a divorce before. laws made it impossible to continue as they'd been doing. The remainder of the book follows them as they work with lawyer to get themselves legally hitched and the necessary paperwork completely so that they could have a life together in the U.S. The book also looks at marriage from various perspectives--historically, as well as from various cultures. It was an enlightening read as I packed up my belongings for container shipment and sold my furniture. Though I knew I would have a work visa for the year, Zorig and I had every intention of getting married as soon as we could get the paperwork done. 

Marriage Certificate holder
I arrived to Mongolia on July 2nd (can you believe I've already been here 9 months?!!?). Zorig began chipping away at the paperwork necessary to apply for marriage in September. I had arrived with everything I knew I needed from the list: divorce decree, results of TB and HIV tests, proof of salary (showing that I could financially support myself), a letter from CO stating that I had no criminal record, notarized copies of my passport, and passport photos. Zorig also had to provide a host of documentation. He visited the Office of Civil Registration multiple times--checking and double-checking--before he finally submitted our application for marriage around the 21st of September. I won't reiterate how that all played out, you can read about it in this earlier post. That was our first paperwork hurdle.

Fast forward. Now we are at work to change my visa from Work to Spousal. I did return to my maiden name in January. And since that time I've been at work to get all the trickle-down documents changed.....SS card (Thanks US Embassy for making that easy!), credit cards, retirement accounts, etc, etc....  

Zorig has been to the Khoroo Office (think municipal office for our neighborhood) three times already trying to get me registered as living here (initially the school completed my work visa paperwork with me living in the ASU teacher apartments) in our apartment. First visit--the Khoroo office was closed as everyone one was attending training. Second visit--the woman responsible was in the hospital getting her appendix removed. Third visit--the office said I needed to get my address changed on my Alien Card first. I communicated with the Mongolian at ASU that handles all the visa paperwork. She informed us that the Khoroo office is confused, as the Immigration office NEEDS a Residence letter from the Khoroo office IN ORDER TO CHANGE the address on my Alien Card. (Huge Eye Roll here!!!) I went this week to get notarized copies of my passport and our marriage certificate--hopefully to ease things for Zorig. I paid just $1.37 for four notarized copies (two of each document--just in case). 

Zorig will return to the Khoroo office this next week to push forward. Once we get all the documentation we need and submit it, it can take as long as 2 months to get the spousal visa. Time to simply stay the course. 

My hope is that we can get the Visa type changed...and that I can get my new Alien card to reflect both my name change AND my status change. BUT....I wouldn't be surprised if I have to do it twice--first to reflect name and address change, then again for the change in visa type. It's only money, and paperwork.
Found "Arizona"--four states checked off. 
Additionally, we have two more "paperwork problems" (think math word problem) ahead of us. We will get the stack of necessary paperwork prepared this month to apply for Zorig's travel visa to South Africa for our summer trip (where we will meet up with my dad for a safari). And we need to submit an ASU application for Enji for next school year.

I suspect these won't be our last journeys in paperwork. Zorig and I both can find it frustrating--we get to the point where we are exhausted from the running around, the copying and notarizing, the document requesting and collection, and paying the costs. But then we rally and push onward. We knew this wouldn't always be easy. And if the paperwork is the HARDEST part, then we are doing well. Our understanding of one another only increases (his English improves continually and I'm beginning to hear words and communicate in small ways in Mongolian), our connection deepens, the building of hopes and dreams continues--and the rest is just, well, paperwork. :)


  1. I really enjoyed your concluding paragraph! Thanks for keeping us all in the loop of your life we can no longer see first hand! Sending you and your family LOVE!

    1. Hello, Friend! So nice to hear from you. Z just asked me this morning if I'd heard from you or been chatting with you. :)

  2. I feel you Heather. Paperwork is very stressful as it is. Even though you exert hard work, paperwork is also the reason to enjoy life at the fullest. Thank you for sharing your paperwork experience. I hire research paper writing service for my paperwork.

  3. Hi, i'm married to a Mongolian man in Germany. We had applied for our marriage in May, 2007, naivly thinking we would then for sure be married in time for our first baby to arrive in october 2007, but it turned February, 2008 when we finally could get married, 9 months and about 600€ later. My parents organized a secret surprise wedding party party for us as we ourselves as students couldn't and didn't plan a party, and this 100-guests-party happened one week before our actual wedding, because my parents had finally to find a firm date for planning and inviting while the local officials still couldn't tell them how long the process will take... ;)

    1. Hello J. That's interesting to hear about the process for marriage in Germany. Strangely, Zorig and I got married in the U.S. while we were there this past Christmas. That was SO easy. One piece of paper to fill out (only had to have passports to prove identity), paid $30, and then we got married. Zorig was shocked at how LITTLE paperwork there was.

      So nice that your parents through you both a party! Congrats on the nuptials and baby!

    2. Getting married here in Mongolia (which we did first) was a LOT of paperwork, but once we submitted it was only a week until we were married.

    3. Hm, so maybe that ours took so long is boths' countries fault. I remember that Germany wanted a certain document to proof that both partners aren't married yet. And because in Mongolia the required document there seemingly doesn't exist, it required sort of a substitute document that had to be checked again and so on. We did not have to do so much ourselves, the main time was consumed by - as we were told - the sending around of all the papers between our town, the Mongolian consulate in Munich, Mongolian embassy in Berlin and Mongolia. My husband is applying for German citizenship now and already several months occupied with sending stuff, writing pages of handritten letters to the Mongolian President, and every now and then again some hardly polite embassy personell calls to inform us that something more is required. My husband said he almost feels bullied since he asked for a complete list of all requirements in the beginning and still... Adds to the nice stories about Mongolian embassy here, another one being the wedding ceremony of (both Mongolian) relatives at the embassy in Berlin with a 'don't you dare to bother me' official in charge, dressed in a leisure suit. If it's not oneself being concerned, it would be almost funny

    4. Thanks ;) Yes, marrying in the USA enjoys international fame! In Germany it's especially the beautyful/diverse locations or/and the freedom to chose them (isn't it?) in the U.S. that people dream about :)