Jordan – Getting There (Part 1 of a series)

Aqaba from the Red Sea
A view of Aqaba from the Red Sea

I was pleasantly surprised and a little excited when a number of folks contacted me to ask what was involved in the move to Jordan, because Abba has been speaking to them about making the same move!   In fact, a steady stream of people are arriving.  Seems like YHVH is doing something here!!

The inquirers wanted to know such things as: What did we take and why did we take it; what do we regret leaving behind; how did we ship our belongings; what is the visa situation; what are the costs involved; etc., etc., etc.  This series of posts is my attempt to answer those questions, which means that it is pretty detailed and will bore the tar out of most folks, but for those who are seriously considering coming to Jordan, the information given here will be invaluable.

On the one hand, the decision to come here was pretty basic and simple: Yah said “Go!” so we went.  But the logistics were a little challenging, especially since we moved only two and a half months after receiving the call.  This is my attempt to recount some of the things we learned during our moving process.  Sure hope it helps those of you who are praying through the same decision!

HAVE GOOD CONTACTS!

friends

First and foremost of value was the help and advice we received from some of the ex-pat (foreign) community that is already living in Aqaba.  We had a billion questions, and those folks were wonderful about staying up past midnight (to accommodate the seven-hour time differential between Raleigh and Jordan) to take our Skype calls and phone calls.  We are so grateful!!  If you, dear reader, have questions that are not answered here, please feel free to contact me through this blog and I will do my best to help you in the same way we were helped.  Allow me to be your first contact person.  I can direct you to better ‘counselors.’

BASICS

In line with that, our first and most important word of advice: Never travel abroad without having written down on paper the names, phone numbers and addresses of your contact person(s) and family members, your airlines/travel agent, your hotel(s) and any contact listother resources that you might use while traveling.  Repeat: Have them WRITTEN DOWN ON PAPER and have more than one copy.  Cell phones and tablets are great note pads, but they will suddenly and inexplicably cease functioning while you are overseas.  Twice we have experienced this, and once we did NOT have the necessary information on paper.  It literally took a miracle from Yah for us to get to our destination! (It’s a great story – I’ll have to tell it to you some day.)

Second word of advice:  The last few people to arrive here have had to deal with lost baggage.  When your bags and boxes are checked onto the plane, a bar code sticker with a number on it will be placed on each bag/box, and you will be given its mate with your boarding pass.  HANG ON TO THOSE THINGS!  You will need to immediately report any missing bags or boxes, and those numbers are crucial.

baggage claim ticketThis may sound like common sense to most, but it is easy to forget under the stress of travel in a strange land.  One dear lady unthinkingly tossed her tags and removed the ‘unsightly’ stickers from her bags – THEN she realized that she was missing the suitcase that had all her medications in it!  Her bag was finally located – two months later.

Third: The Jordanian monetary system is based on the Jordanian Dinar.  One JD (Jordanian Dinar) is now and has always been worth $1.40 US.  The exchange rate is stable and has not changed for many years.  Makes it really nice!

Jordanian Dinar
A Jordanian dinar, worth $1.40 US.

Fourth: Most things that we are familiar with in the States can be purchased here, although they may not be familiar brands and the  quality may not (probably WILL not) be as good.  (Most things in Aqaba are on the lower rung of Chinese manufacture, i.e. seconds and rejects).   Expect Wal-Mart quality or poorer at Wal-Mart prices and higher.  More about this under “SHOPPING.”

VISAS

Our very first question was, “How do we get a visa?”

Jordan has made getting a visa pretty simple for Americans.   Just have a valid American passport, get on a plane and land in Jordan!  You will be issued a 30-day visa after answering a couple of questions like, “What is your full name?” and “Why did you come to Jordan?” (Keep it simple: You’re a tourist and came to see the sights.  Believe me, you WILL see some amazing sights!)

For those flying into Aqaba: the visa is free, because Aqaba is a duty-free zone.

For those flying into Amman:  The 30-day visa is expensive if you stay in Amman, but tell them that you’re on your way to Aqaba, and they will give you a free 30-day visa.  Of course you must leave for Aqaba within 24 hours.  You can come back to sight-see in Amman later.

Jordanian visaOur next question was: “How do we get an extended visa so that we can stay longer in Jordan?”  That, too, has become a pretty simple process.  Before your 30-day visa expires, go to the local police station in Aqaba and ask for an extension.  They will probably ask if you intend to apply for residency, and you can tell them ‘yes.’  They will give you a new 60-day visa.  This gives you a total of 90 days to fulfill the residency requirements.  There is no charge for the extended visa.

RESIDENCY

Jordan is very reasonable in its requirements for ex-pat residency.  The GENERAL requirements (which are subject to change rather frequently) as of June 2016 are:

  1.  A valid passport with an unexpired Jordanian entry visa.
  2. An official bank statement showing 10,000 JD ($14,000 US) in a Jordanian bank account.  
  3. Original birth certificates for each member of the family.
  4. Your original marriage certificate, certified by your embassy.
  5. Your original lease showing the amount of the rent on a house or apartment in Aqaba, signed both owner and renter.
  6. Blood tests for each family member aged 61 or younger to prove that no one has HIV.

ASEZAAll documents will be submitted to the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), and all applications will also be examined by the Mukhabarat (Jordanian Intelligence Directorate) in Amman.

Husbands will generally be processed for residency first, with wives and dependents being approved in a separate process following the husband’s approval.    Expect each approval to take 1-2 weeks, for a total of 3 weeks to a month for a family.  Ours took a month because, during the time we made application, there were two Muslim holidays AND an employee strike at ASEZA!  One never knows what delays will pop up in Aqaba!

So let’s look at these requirements a little more closely:

  • An official bank statement showing 10,000 JD ($14,000) in a Jordanian bank account.   They may require 2 or 3 months of statements, but we got by with a one-month statement.
    • Plan on it taking at least a week and possibly two weeks to actually get your account opened!!!  The process is long and drawn out and includes shipping your paperwork to and from Amman for approval at ‘headquarters.’  Our ‘paperwork’ was quite literally a BOOK of about 50-75 pages!
    • Funds can be wire-transferred from the States – for a fee, of course.   For several reasons, it is recommended that you wire several smaller amounts rather than one large amount.  Smaller amounts will not raise security issues, and if your wire transfer gets LOST (yes, it has happened), you won’t have lost ALL your money.   It also helps your residency application when there are a series of deposits, implying regular income.
    • There are several banks that can now receive automatic deposits from Social Security.  Some folks have chosen to use this convenience, but to date we have decided to keep our American account open – we don’t like advertising our business to the feds….  However, we are still considering this option, because the most recent development in residency applications is that Jordan appears to now be considering monthly income as their top requirement, rather than the 14K-JD bank account.  The regular appearance of a SS deposit into one’s Jordanian account can establish this.  We are still trying to verify the reliability of this new development.  (No matter what, though, we will keep our American account open.  It is a useful tool for making purchases online and getting funds to and from family and friends.)
  • joint bank accountWe opened a joint Jordanian bank account.  Under Shari’a Law, I, as the wife, have absolutely no ownership of ‘our’ account.  By Jordanian law, all the money (even my Social Security) belongs to my husband, although I am permitted to use the account because he has signed a document allowing me that privilege.   Many families establish a second account under the wife’s name so that she will have her own funds if anything happens to the husband.  (Under Shari’a law, a husband’s funds go to his oldest son or oldest living MALE relative!)   In our case, the funds would go to our son Matthew, and since he and I would share an account anyway, I do not have a separate account.
  • When we presented our joint bank statement for residency approval, it was accepted without comment despite the fact that we didn’t have the whole 10,000JD and it was a joint account.  However, other people have been instructed that husbands and wives must have their own separate accounts, each with 10,000JD in them!   One couple was told that the wife could not be on the account at all because she might run away with the husband’s money, leaving him dependent on the nation of Jordan!!
  • The original of your lease on a house or apartment, signed by all parties; more about leases later.
  • Your original, official marriage certificate;
    • This requirement is the one fly in the residency ointment – it is a brand new law that just took effect at the beginning of February 2016.  This law requires you to take your marriage certificate to your national embassy in Amman and have it certified as authentic!!  This means (for people who live in Aqaba) the expense and time of round-trip transportation for the four-hour trip to and from Amman; an appointment with the embassy; and at least one or two days’ stay in a hotel while you take care of the paperwork.  This makes the process very expensive.  (On the plus side, there are lots of interesting sights to see in Amman.)    🙂
      • It has not yet been established if the embassies will even consider certifying a document which they had no part in creating and have no way to verify.  Other problems can arise, too.  One couple was married in a country that no longer exists and has no embassy.  They aren’t sure how they will resolve the issue!
      • We do not know yet if the marriage certificate must be taken to Amman every year, or if the government will accept the original embassy certification for subsequent residency renewal applications.  We are trying to get that information.
  • Original birth certificates for each person (showing the father’s name);
  • give bloodand a blood test for each family member under 62 years of age, to prove that they don’t have HIV.  Clerks have asked some people over 62  to submit blood tests, but an appeal to a supervisor has thus far eliminated the demand.   Blood tests must be obtained at one particular government-operated clinic in town and run about 30JD ($40 US) per person.  If you get the blood test taken early in the morning, you can usually get the results the same afternoon.

IN ALL EVENTS, be prepared to hit a snag.

The only sure and certain rule in Jordan is that NOTHING is sure and certain. 

Your particular residency requirements will depend on who processes your application, whether or not they want to go home early, and if they think you have ‘wasta‘ (social influence) or not.      But that’s OK Lots of issues have arisen for lots of ex-pats, but  there are ways to resolve them.   Never panic!!!  If Abba has called you to Jordan, your residency will be approved – you may just have to call out the ‘wasta cavalry’ to make it happen.

Our Personal Snags

In our own case, not only were we several thousand JD short of the required 10,000 JD in our JOINT bank account, in addition, our son’s birth certificate was issued by a Spanish consulate and does not indicate his father’s name, so we had no way to prove that he was our dependent.

By Abba’s Grace, the bank account issue was never even raised!

The birth certificate was a little more challenging.  At first it seemed like we would have to go through a long and involved process to obtain a satisfactory birth certificate, but then at the Spirit’s leading, we called an influential friend.  Through her contacts, we discovered that we just needed two witnesses to swear that Matthew was John’s son – and that was easy to provide!  Boom!  Issue resolved!  It had never occurred to the clerk to mention the alternative resolution – we had to pray through it and Abba faithfully revealed the path.  (And in the process, He created for us a very precious relationship with a wonderful Arabian family – a relationship that may one day be of great value to all the ex-pats.  Abba is in control!)

Trust

That’s how it rolls here.

 Never panic – YHVH is in control!  


This article is part of a series.  Here are the links to the other articles within the series (some links will be inactive until the particular article is published):

Part 1 – (This Article) Jordan: Getting There

Part 2 – Jordan: We Can’t Live on Air!

Part 3 – Jordan: First Steps – Housing Will Determine Everything

Part 4 – Jordan: Where Can We Stay Until We Find Housing?

Part 5 – Jordan: To Ship or Not to Ship?

Part 6 – Jordan: So . . . What Did You Take?

Part 7 – Jordan: Replacing Furniture and Appliances?

Part 8 – Jordan: Shopping – What’s Available? What Isn’t?

Part 9 – Jordan: Getting Around – Planes, Trains and Automobiles! (and Buses and Camels, too!)

Part 10 – Jordan: Medical Care

Part 11 – Jordan: Social Life!

Part 12 – Jordan: Pets

Part 13 – Jordan: Kids


© Sue Wyatt and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, 2016.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Lamb’s Servant Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sue Wyatt  and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Jordan – Getting There (Part 1 of a series)”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s