Monday, June 23, 2014

Mexican Permanent Residential Visa!

We have been enjoying our time with our daughter, son-in-law, and our 3 grandsons here in Farmington, CT. The weather has been fabulous!

However, our main focus since arriving was the goal of getting our Mexican Permanent Residency Visa. I had scheduled our appointment for 11:20am on Tuesday, June 17th at the Mexican Consulate in Mahattan, NYC. 

Our decision to apply for the Permanente Residencia Visa was made after much research. I began searching for detailed information after we made the decision to make PV our home and Mexico our home country back in January, 2014. 

My first find was the website of http://www.mexperience.com. Here I purchased the Visa Guidelines but they were still the 2013 rules, which didn't reflect the new law and rule changes that took effect in November, 2013. I read and reread over and over again but the way it was organized was a bit confusing. One of the great things about this site is that it's very interactive. 

I wrote to the site about my questions and some of the confusion the guidelines caused. They were very prompt in not only answering my questions but when the new guidelines came out for 2014, they had taken my comments to heart and made adjustments to the outline and now the guidelines were extremely easy to follow. 

The new laws/rules allowed us to go immediately straight for the Permanente, whereas in the past, you could only apply for Temporary. You must renew the Temporary for 4 years in a row before you then are granted a Permnente, if you wanted it. 

The Permanente allows us the same rights as any Mexican resident such as the right to work legally, the right to apply for national health care, the rights of being a senior (60+), the right to own a car but it must be a Mexican plated auto, and we no longer have to worry about leaving the country every 180 days (Tourist Visa). And, in 4 years, we may apply for citizenship and, if granted, are given a Mexican Passport. You then have a dual citizenship and two different country passports. You are not required to renounce your original citizenship. There are advantages to this but I'm not going to discuss those here. 

So once we had made this decision on which visa to apply for, I began researching on which US Mexican Consulate we would make our appointment with. It is a NEW requirement that you MUST make application in your country of residency. You no longer can apply in Mexico. 

Before making the final choice, or should I say, our first choice of where to go, I went to each consulate website to look at their requirements for a Permanente Visa. Yes, they are all different!! Some require documents that the others don't. For instance, Seattle, WA, which is the one closest to our home address, requires a WA Sherriff's report to show that we are residents in "Good Standing" with no police record. 

So since we were going to be visiting our daughter and family in Connecticut first for 3 weeks, we made the decision to go to New York City in Manhattan. A list of Consulates and their locations can be found at http://embassy-finder.com/mexico_in_usa to determine where you might want to go. There is no requirement that you must apply at the one closest to your home address. But, if we had issues at this consulate, we would have the opportunity of going to Seattle once we head to WA in July. 

You need to make the appointment online by creating an account, very easy. You can't make an appointment way in advance. It must be after the 15th of the month preceding. You will be sent a verification certificate by email and told to be there at least 20 minutes before your scheduled time. I would recommend that you try calling the consulate to speak with the visa representative to verify everything - appointment and necessary documents.  However, we were not able to make telephone contact so we had to go simply on what we were reading and what other friends who had just completed the process told us.

The week before we left PV, I spent hours gathering and downloading all of the required documents per the NYC website so that when I got to the states I could just print them out. I'm NOT going to list them here. They may change at any time and I don't want to be responsible for misinformation. AT ALL TIMES, please reverify everything!!!  Do your own research to make sure you have up to date information!!!!

So the day finally came and our daughter was driving us into Manhattan rather than us taking the train. Since she lives in Farmington, CT, close to Hartford, we left just before 8 am thinking that was plenty of time. Well, after being in bumper to bumper traffic for almost the whole trip, we arrived at the corner of East 39th & ???, only a few blocks from the consulate at approximately 10:40 am.





I needed a restroom so bad that my eye balls were drowning!!!  There was a McDonald's on the corner and Denise was yelling at me to get out of the car and go. She said that I would be out and finished before the car moved very far. So finally, after much encouragement, I hopped out of the car, ran across the street, into the McDonald's, did my business, and returned to her car that had moved no more than 20 ft !!  After only one more block, Mike and I got out and walked much faster than her car was moving to the consulate. 

Upon entering, the young, cute and nice guards asked us to walk through the security checkpoint and one of them said "I'm a mind reader...you're here for visas". After we all laughed and spoke a few niceties in Spanish, we were directed to the 3rd floor via stairs. Must say that the first floor was packed with people. A very busy place, for sure!!

On the 3rd floor there were about 8 chairs lined up in the hallway, which acted as a waiting area. We found 2 chairs together and sat ourselves down. First I got up and poked my head into doorway that indicated where the Visa section was but saw no receptionist much less anyone to talk to. So we sat and waited figuring that someone would come out to greet us for our scheduled appointment. Really, I truly believed that! LOL

After waiting and watching others get waited on, Mike got up at our appointment time of 11:20 am and poked his head around the corner and asked in Spanish about the appointment to a woman walking by, she said she would be back in a minute so he waited by the door. By 11:30 am, she came back and Mike motioned me in. She had us sit at an empty desk close to the visa section where we waited until the couple from India completed their appointment. 

Now the fun began when we were invited to sit in front of the "Visa lady". She took my paper showing the appointment and immediately stated it was for me ONLY. That Mike needed his own appointment. At this point, I felt my stomach start to go into knots. This appointment was not starting off well at all. I nicely said to her that I was sorry but I didn't realize that a "married couple" needed 2 separate appointments. All said with a very nice smile to keep the peace. 

In the meantime, another man from New Jersey had made his way into the area and sat down trying to get her attention. She did get up and answered a few of his questions but politely told him he must come back with a scheduled appointment and that now she needed to attend to us since we did have an appointment. Whew, one good mark for us!!

She then proceeded to start asking me for documentation. At each request, I handed her the paperwork. I not only gave her proof of all of our monthly income but that we also qualified with just our savings balances for the last year. Once she had been given all of the paperwork along with a brief explanation for one source that wasn't a pension or Social Security, she started to circle amounts, dates, and account names. 

Then she looked up and stated we didn't have enough income because we both needed $2,400 US monthly. As this was way different than anything I had seen in the requirements and my understanding was that the primary had to have the $2,400/mo but the spouse only needed another $500/mo. I stated this to her, again in a very nice non threatening manner. At which point she stopped what she was doing and just stared at me for a very long pregnant pause. Mike and I just held our breath knowing this was not going well. 

We could then see something in her eyes change. She then pulled out a reference book with yellow post it notes sticking out all over and began reading what we would guess was the new "laws and rules" for Permanent Residency. And, from that moment on it went beautifully!! She looked over at me and gave me the biggest smile and began explaining how the process works. 

We were told that she would take our picture and our fingerprints and collect $36 for each of us and once she came back with the signed paperwork, she would complete the visa right then and there! And, that is what happened. I was actually in total disbelief that we would actually walk right out of there with everything. 

I've had 2 couple friends actually go through the same process within the last couple of months, one in Ecuador and one in Seattle, and both of them had to wait after going through all the presentation of their paperwork and come back later in the day to get the actual visa placed in their passports. The rules actually state that they have 10-15 days to get the paperwork in order.

So, despite the rough beginning, we were in and out in 1 hour with everything. Mission accomplished!! I shed some tears in front of her with my joy and happiness at this accomplishment and she just beamed back at me. Never did get her name since she didn't introduce herself but I know she felt better than when we first arrived. I don't know, maybe she wanted to go to lunch and she knew we were going to take awhile.

So for whatever reason we got off on the wrong foot, we do think us knowing the law and rules made a huge difference in our situation.  This may not always be the case!!  Each person in each consulate is different and they have total control regardless of what the law says. All you can do is go as prepared as possible and then some. I took documents like our marriage certificate, our apartment lease in PV, my divorce decree, anything I could think of that they might ask for just to be sure I had all the bases covered.

We celebrated by going around the corner to Mulligan's Irish Pub on Madison Avenue for lunch.  After a couple of nice hamburgers, salad, 1 beer, 1 wine, and a water for $70, we made our way to the parking lot where we shelled out another $50 for 3 hours of parking.  So the bottom line is that our visas so far have cost us $72 but we will have more charges when we get back to Mexico.

The visa placed in your passport is good for 6 months by which time you must return to Mexico and go to the Immigration office with more filled out forms and documents, more fingerprinting, etc. and pay another fee.  We are using a legal facilitator in PV to help us through this final process.  Once everything passes through in about 10-15 days, you get to go pick up your absolute permanent residency card that you will carry with you.  Sort of like the "green card" in the states.

I must say that this process is a breeze compared to what others have to go through in other countries.  There are less documents, they don't have to be translated into Spanish nor apostilled, the time to go through the bureaucracy is minimal, and the cost is far less for the full process. 

So now Mike and I can just enjoy our vacation in the states and be with family and friends with no worries or anxiety.  Yay!!  I love it when a plan comes together.

So have a great summer week and enjoy life!!  And, of course, thanks for walking this journey with us. 









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