Tuesday, June 15, 2010

visa on line

I despise bureaucracy.

It doesn't matter if it is imposed on me by flannel-suited businessmen or casually-dressed government clerks.  I don't like it.

In my case, the dislike stems from my libertarian roots.  But, I have never yet met a person who liked filling out forms and wading through serpentine dens of red tape.

Several of my friends in Oregon have asked me how I like dealing with the bureaucrats in Mexican offices.  I usually respond by asking how they like getting their driver's license renewed.  In most cases, I get the better part of that deal.

Nonsense knows no national borders.

And I do give credit to Mexico.  The country is trying to make encounters with government less painful.  For expatriates, it means the visa application and renewal process is being simplified.

Most expatriates living in Mexico have one of two types of visas:  an FM2 (for people seeking permanent residency status in Mexico or those who may seek eventual Mexican citizenship) or an FM3 (for people who want to stay long term in Mexico, but are not interested in immigrant status).  Both visas have one thing in common: they must be renewed each year.

I know very few expatriates who have looked forward to the renewal process.  They would gather up their passports, visa booklets, bank statements, utilities bills, and miscellaneous documents -- along with copies of everything.  Knowing full well that no matter how many documents they gathered, the desk clerk would ask for something that either did not exist or was back in the house -- an hour drive north.

Even if they were lucky enough to have brought everything, the clerk would fill out the necessary forms and then send the requester off to the bank to pay the renewal fee.  Only to have a waiting period of several weeks before the renewed booklet was back in hand.

As of 1 May all of that may be changing.  The visa renewal offices are entering the twenty-first century.  Most of the paperwork must be accomplished on line.  The hope is that uniformity will improve from office to office, and the process will actually become efficient.

I should note the office in Manzanillo has always struck me as being very fair and efficient -- even under the old system.  This past April, my friends rewedding their FM3s in one trip.  I was duly impressed.  DMV offices in The States could take a lesson in efficiency.

As with all new systems, there have been some bumps in getting the system running.  But the electronic topes appear to have been leveled.

That is, according to one of my favorite Mexican web sites. 

Rolly Brook's My Life in Mexico is a wealth of information.  If you can read his web site without being temptress to move south, your spirit must be taking a sabbatical.

He has added new information about "INM Forms Online."  You will find an explanation and links to forms for such topics as:
  • the INM application form
  • tThe INM payment form
  • the web site to track the status of your application
  • the form required for leaving the country while your renewal is being processed

Rolly's information is always very practical and helpful.  And often delightfully eccentric.

I will not need to renew my FM3 until next April.  But I am actually starting to look forward to the new process. 

Especially, since I will now have a Mexican banking connection.

But more on that later.


American Mommy in Mexico said...

Glad to hear the Mexican process has the prospect of being easier! Husband had his challenges with FM3s back when ...

Steve Cotton said...

AMM -- It appears some areas of the country are still having issues with the internet system. At least you do not have to deal with it on this trip -- I hope.

Anonymous said...

Steve, i just picked up my new FM3 card in Guadalajara yesterday. this is my third-year renewal. i did NOT have to provide any kind of proof of income. i did use a facilitator, but the only documentation i had to provide was my passport, my old FM3 booklet, my CFE bill (in my landlord's name), and a copy of my lease.

the clerks at INM (immigration) are just beginning to get used to the new computerized system. everyone is on a learning curve right now. the clerk at whose window i showed up had a supervisor sitting right next to her to answer questions (the clerk's and mine). took quite a while to enter the information into the computer (there is a new form that you get once you turn in all your original documentation and the info from that form must be entered into the computer).

but i would think (hope) that by next year, things will be going a lot more smoothly.

barb on the southshore of lake chapala

Steve Cotton said...

Barb -- Once the learning curve is flattened, I suspect the new system will be a great improvement. Far better than my local DMV.