Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Trip to Immigration to Renew Visa in Mexico

Some things change very slowly.  Such as the office where one goes to have paperwork completed, photo taken and signed documents along with 4619 pesos, approximately $270USD  handed over for a one year temporal residente visa is paid.

I know.  I went through this transaction a couple of weeks ago.  In addition, I handed over my passport and my current temporal residente visa card.  Heaven help me if I get stopped by the Federales for some unknown reason, as I have no ID except for my Mexican drivers license and my INAPAM card.  The INAPAM card is issued to expats and citizens to acquire discounts on meds, bus fares and various other items.  I have rarely been stopped by the Federales, so don't worry.  And, when I have, I've always talked my way through, in English, of course.  That's another story.

I took a photo three years ago of the office that I went to a couple of weeks ago.  I wanted to show the progress they have made in the office this year. 

The funny part of it is that nothing much has changed in three years, except the typewriter is no longer there.

Same Facilitator, Patty Garcia, same man who takes your photo for the card.  He also makes sure your hair, not one strand, is on your forehead and all is behind your ears.  NOW he has a headband.  A new addition, which makes it easy to comply with the photo requirements.

There is no typewriter because the systems are now all computerized.  No big rubber stamps to bang on each sheet of paperwork as there was 15 years ago.  Same three blue plastic stools.  Even same towel over the big printer as there was three years ago.

You might wonder how I can have a temporary visa for all these years.  Several reasons.  One, it wasn't a big deal when I first came, but one did have to be here for so many years before one could go permanent.

Finally, about four or five years ago I attempted to go permanente, but in the middle of the process they changed the requirements and did away with a classification and somehow, even though I paid for a permanent visa and went through all the rigamarole to get it, I ended up with a temporary visa again.

This was a good thing in the end as at this very same time, the law regarding imported vehicles changed and if someone had a permanent visa they could no longer have a US plated car if it was not made in Mexico, the USA or Canada.  Part of the NAFTA requirements that went into effect.  Whew, I was relieved that somehow I was spared that costly aggravation as my dependable, sturdy car was made in Japan.

Some other things, personally, have changed in the last three years.  One is that I need the car now more then ever for around town.  After a really bad fall on my right knee in March,  along with balance issues, I'm way too hesitant to walk down the hill anymore.  Believe me, it was easier to walk then drive, but, so be it.

Ironically, when I did get the temporary visa renewed three years ago, I thought that was it.  I thought this year at renewal time I would have to go permanent.  I had tried every way to find a legal way to keep the car in Mexico.  Then Patty and I went to Immigration to make sure that I had to go permanent. The agent put my visa number in the computer, yes the computer, and gave me the verdict. Voila, no the agent said, I had one more year.  Really?  How the heck did that happen?  One learns to accept and not ask questions.

Another interesting thing, on this one year temporary resident renewal, they required no proof of income.  After the fiasco I went through four or five years ago, I was relieved.  Again, one accepts and asks no questions.

Something else very interesting and somewhat upsetting happened when I went to see the immigration agent a month ago as to whether I had to go permanent.  A van was pulled right up to the steps that go up into the Immigration building.  On the windows of the van there were bars inside the van.  "What the heck?", I thought. Then a uniformed man came out with a young man about 20, a little girl about 8 and another young man.  They were each carrying a backpack.  They were being treated with respect but I could tell that they had been somehow apprehended for heading North from Central America.  My stomach was in a knot.

I asked Patty, who just about lives at Immigration because she facilitates for many, many people if this is common.  "Yes", she replied, "More and more".  About that time the uniformed men were carrying out some more of the trios belongings.  It was distressing to think of people so young making this dangerous trek and now being returned to horrible conditions.   They are not immigrants.  They are refugees.

However, on the other hand, I hope that they are flown back home and don't have to go through whatever they had gone through to get this far North.  What is the answer?  I have no idea.  It is just a tragedy and sad thing to see.  I've not been able to forget those young people.  Probably never will.  I still think, after all these years, about the 16 year old young man working in the parking lot of Walmart from Nicaragua.  He was trying to get to Michigan where his uncle and father were working.  Oh my, all I could think about was my 16 year old granddaughter with her own room in Houston and all the security and possessions she has with no fear or danger as these young people endure.

I will tell you this, strange as it may seem, in the 40 years I've been either doing business in Mexico or living here for the last 15, these are the only people I have ever seen trying to get to the border.  As many times, probably at least a hundred, that I have driven across the various border crossings, I've never seen one human or in the fields or desert.  And I look too.  So, the media coverage and TV shows on that subject are way out of proportion as to what reality actually is,  in my humble opinion and by my observations.

Supposedly I'll have my one year visa this coming week.........or the next.......or whenever.  Then, next year it will be Permanente.  We'll see if I can figure out a solution for keeping the car.  Where there is a will, there is a way, as "they" say.


Peter Kouwenhoven said...

Babs, you are a fountain of information. Thanks for sharing.

Retired Teacher said...

Wow! You must hold a record for living the longest period of time in Mexico on a temporary visa! At least you don't have to worry about the car for another year.
And thanks for once again putting a human face on the issue of immigration.

Calypso said...

We got the permanent resident visas as soon as they came out. We hated the annual process and red tape. We had already purchased a Mexican vehicle. BUT - we still own and drive around a LARGE Ford truck from the U.S. It has been down here for about 8 years - never leaves the local area. I am resolved to give the Mexican Government the truck if they stop me and require that.In the mean time I drive it up and down the mountain to our rancho and little else. I know you drive back and forth out of the Country - but the cost of f years of those temporary annual cards is not cheap.

You probably know they have stopped allowing car importation while trying to decide or create new policies. What a mess!

Anonymous said...

Well, all things considered, this appears to have been a relatively painless process. Hopefully you can keep doing it so that you can keep your car. By the way, are you sure you couldn't nationalize your car? Around the border there are a ton of places that claim to be able to do it for you. I'm wondering if you've even tried. I know you're correct about the rules, but then it's Mexico, so some amount of bending is often possible. This makes me wonder if you could find some kind of connection, friend, whatever, who, with an appropriate "tip" could get your car legalized.

Buena suerte y Saludos,

Kim G
Boston, MA
Where we are fantasizing about driving back to Mexico, but this time in our little sports car. Big question: can it clear the topes?

Babs said...

Fountain of information, Peter, GREAT! Glad I can be of help..........

Bill, believe it or not, there are people here who have lived here for over 20 years that live here on a tourist visa, own property, but go out every 180 days and get another tourist visa! Truly, I know quite a few.

Yes, it used to be you could be temporal or have an FM-2 forever. That has disappeared for some reason and now this time next year, my status will change.

The issue of immigration tugs at my heart all the time. Again, I know many men here in SMA who came "home" either because they were captured and deported, even though they had families in the USA, or got fed up with the prejudice and abuse and came home to kindness and family. I listen to their stories and always, always, think "But for the grace of where one was born".

Babs said...

Calypso, I've decided to probably just continue to drive the Pathfinder with the US plates around town where one is never stopped and if stopped, see if I can talk my way out of the consequences.

I don't know where you heard that they have stopped car imports as I know 4 individuals who have done that in the last six weeks.....

I'm like Scarlett, I'll deal with the issue next year. Why worry?

Babs said...

Kim, I've gone the gamut of talking with every facilitator and importer etc. Absolutely cannot be done when the vehicle is made outside the three countries.
The clincher is that you cannot get Mexican car insurance and I would NEVER drive in
Mexico without insurance........too many horror stories of people ending up in jail because they were not insured.

If I were you, depending on the sports car, I would not drive it down here. Topes, standing out, etc. It's not a good idea, IMHO.

mcm said...

Babs -- once you have a Residente Permanente visa, PLEASE check your insurance very carefully if you continue to drive your US-plated vehicle. Because the vehicle will not be legally in Mexico (the TIP having been tied to your Residente Temporal status), there is an excellent chance that your insurance (including liability) will not be valid. So, even for driving around town you could be putting yourself in legal jeopardy. But, as you say, that is next year's problem...

Babs said...

Thanks MCM. I'm aware that the TIP is only for temporal visas. And, that I couldn't have car insurance in Mexico since the car would be illegal UNLESS I get a UCD plate which is for the STate of Guanajuato and they provide insurance, I'm told. OR I could go to Laredo and do the whole temporal thing over again as though it is the first time which would be good for another four years...........ha. There is always a way.

I would not drive in Mexico or the USA without insurance. My car is so old, I can only get liability, ha.

Unknown said...

Hope your new RT comes through sooner than hubby's did ... it took nine weeks a couple months ago!!

Babs said...

Me too Janet. But the facilitator called this morning and said I would probably need to come tomorrow, get fingerprinted and pick up the visa. So that will be three weeks. Patty as usual works here magic!

Jeannette Lewis said...

Hi Babs
!I read your story about a trip to immigration with interest. Here in Canada we found the welcome we received was generous and warm, with no problems on visas or settling into our adopted country. If you ever think about moving again then I recommend Canada as your next port of call! We love it here....

Jeannette Lewis @ WelcomePack Canada

Babs said...

Jeanette, thanks for your welcoming comment. I do like Canada a lot and the people are wonderful, BUT it is cold up there, even in the summer and I'm not a cold weather person..............Thanks for the thought though.

I can't imagine ever leaving Mexico as I fell in love with instantly in 1974 and always hoped some day I could live here. I'm living my dream. Aren't I lucky?