Saturday, May 25, 2013
Extending our Stay in Mexico: VISA
So I am looking at the two photos above and feeling very rested. Alamos is so peaceful, unlike the immigration office in Guaymas. Thinking about this post makes my blood pressure kick into high gear, looking at the photos is calming.
We went to Guaymas on Wednesday. I will tell what I can. Everyone has a different story. No two trips could ever possibly be the same.
We left at four thirty am. In the dark, at the PEMEX, for caffeine. Dawn broke on our way down from the mountains. I forgot to brush my hair and no make up. I am not in the best mood.
We need to meet the translator at eight. He has translated our bank statements for the last six months. This is a new requirement from Sonora Immigration and some other states as well, having your statements translated into Spanish. A few of the large Mexico blog sites have been reporting that four months were required in some states, and a few sites even said that the offices in their states were not asking for bank statements. Reports were coming in strong that Guaymas wanted the translations. Senor decided to be safe and asked for six months. That meant, for us, a total of eighteen pages.
We are early and go to MacDonald's where Senor says stop with the what if's. I have more caffeine.
Back at Inmigracion we start the process. The translator is late, but the young woman who is helping us smiles at his name. He will be here, I am sure, she says. She has not been nice to us in the past. I form an opinion quickly. I don't like her.
The day before, exactly thirty days prior to our Visa expiration date, I have filled out the application online. This much is simple these days. We are hooked into the computer through last year's application. I only need to type in our identification (NUE) numbers and hello, there I am am. My application pops up, yes, with my name and all of the other information I need. But there are a few things to change. We want to extend our stay, but we have to change the condition of our stay. This is determined by one little number on the back of our Visa. We have been renewing year to year for temporary residency. Our number, 4, tells us that now, under the new Immigration laws of Mexico, we either need to apply for permanent residency or leave the country. By leaving the country we would then have to start our whole Visa yearly temporary residency process over again or come back into the country with tourist Visa's which need to be renewed each six months.
The new rules are causing a little panic. Reports from foreigners across Mexico, who are renewing Visas, changing Visas and applying for Visas are all different. Some immigration offices seem to make their own rules and the rules clearly say they can do that. So in general all this confusion has me up tight. The financial requirements to have permanent Visa's are higher in this state, they are lower in that one, they are not even looking at bank statements in this office, they want six months worth of statements in that office, husband and wife have to have separate accounts in that state, in another state they have to be combined. It is maddening to read about it. We have no real idea what the Guaymas office wants. No idea if we qualify for permanent residency. And maybe today we qualify, but maybe tomorrow we would not.
I do not give the clerk anything she doesn't ask for. This has gotten me into trouble in the past. She asks for the application. I give both mine and Senor's to her. Current Visa. She checks the change of stay against the number 4 on the back of the Visa. Hmmmm, photos. I give those to Senor who gives them to her. I am building my wall. Passaportes. I give those to Senor, too.
i need two copies of these passaportes, she says........you will have to go make two copies........ i have those already, i tell senor....... well why didn't you give them to her with the passports, he asks................she didn't ask me for them, i say...............where are your bank statements, she says.............well, i reply, they are with the translator.............. She smiles. I know she is just doing her job.
She prints letters for us to sign. Letters that declare we want to become permanent residents of Mexico.
Personally I am ready to go. I think about the time we were there and an American woman was drinking tecate outside the building, at eight in the morning. I could never do that, but I do think about the caffeine I have had already. I am jumpy.
The translator has arrived. He and Senor step outside and do some business. The girl behind the counter has a big smile for the translator and some business of her own, in rapid Spanish that I don't understand at all. Senor gives her four months of the statements. She flips casually through the pages, says something that sounds to me like no mucho, turns to her boss and asks if she doesn't need more months of statements. The boss says four is okay.
I can barely see her over my wall when she talks about the application fee. A new fee this year. One thousand pesos each, payable at the bank and then we need to return with copies of this and this and this and the receipt for paying the fees.
I am practicing my deep breathing when we leave. The bank does not open for forty five minutes. We go to the pharmacy. Senor gets copies made of all that stuff and I buy some make up and I feel better. I am going to change my attitude.
Back in the office I am determined to be sweet. I smile a lot. She shuffles papers here and there and spends fifteen minutes reviewing all the stuff we have brought back with us. She piles our paperwork into separate folders and sets them in front of her. Then she rests her chin on her raised hands and she looks at us. Is she going to say something? She shuffles papers again. She takes back all the assorted papers she just said she does not need and puts them in the folders and says............you have to go to Hermosillo to pay for your Visa. Then you have to come back here to this office a different day to get fingerprinted. You have to go on your computer and put in these numbers and then a message will tell you when to go to Hermosillo. Then another day you do that again and it will tell you when to come here. She is telling us this in English.
I repeat it back to her. But she changes her mind....... no, do not come to this office, you will go to Hermosillo two times........first to pay for your Visa and to get fingerprinted and then you go back to Hermosillo to pick up your Visa. I repeat that back to her. She shakes her head yes .I say thank you and I am fast out the door while Senor signs us out in the little book on the table.
We take the back road over to San Carlos. The drive along the sea is calming. Inside a local store, I wander around aimlessly, looking at tile, tin, silver and glass. We drive over to our favorite taco stall. We smell the salt in the air.
On the way home, I know I have again survived the first step in the renewal process. And that is simply having all the right paperwork accumulated. But what I do not know, is if we will even get the Visa once we go to Hermosillo. I say this to Senor and he says.......stop already with the what if's..............So I take a deep breath and watch the cacti go by.