Monday, March 19, 2012

best intentions in a real world

In a well-ordered universe, I would be in Manzanillo this morning.  And my FM3 would be well on its way to renewal.

But I do not live in a well-ordered universe.

For those of you who may not remember, my FM3 (or, as it is now known: Prórroga de No Inmigrantes) is my visa.  The permission granted by the government of Mexico for me to stick around for an additional year.  And it is time for me once again to go hat in hand and ask permission to stay for another year.

The process for renewing visas has improved greatly since I came to Mexico.

When I first renewed my visa, I needed to bring the original and copies of my passport, my FM3 booklet, a utility bill in my name with my address (or a constancia de domicilio -- a document issued by the local government showing my address), my rental agreement, a copy of my landlady's voter ID card, three months of bank statements showing a monthly income adequate to keep me off of the Mexican welfare rolls, portrait photographs, a letter explaining why I wanted to live in Mexico, a completed paper form that asked questions only a bureaucrat could appreciate, and a fistful of pesos for the annual renewal fee.

And each year that list mutated based on either regulations or whim.  It did not matter.  I merely jumped through the hoops like a good no inmigrante and coughed up whatever was requested.

Last year reform hit the process.  One of President Calderon's goals was to make Mexican government more efficient.  And his reforms in the visa process seemed to be working quite well.

When I renewed last year, I filled out a streamlined application online.  Printed it off.  Signed it.  With that signature, the need for the plea letter vanished.

I then took the form (within the 30 day window for renewal) to Manzanillo along with my utility bill (to prove residency), my old FM3 booklet (to be exchanged for a new card), and my passport.  That was all I needed. 

Gone were the financial documents (at least, until my 5 year renewal point) and the rest of the pesky document requirements.  Needless to say, I still needed that fistful of pesos.

Earlier this month, while planning my next trip, I realized my FM3 would expire just after I leave.  But that was no problem.  It would still give me over three weeks to get a new visa card in hand.

Or so I thought.  The first day I could renew day was Saturday.  I tried going online to fill out the form.  But it informed me I was too early.  So, I tried again this morning.  Same message.

No problem.  I would merely drive to Manzanillo to start the process in person.  After all, I had everything else ready to go.

It then occurred to me.  This is a Mexican holiday.  A huge Mexican holiday.  The birthday of Benito Juárez.  The queso grande.  The equivalent of Washington, Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan.  All rolled into one.

There would be no going to Manzanillo today.  But there is always mañana.  And mañana it shall be.

And I will be back to a semi-ordered universe.  Perhaps, with a renewed FM3.


b m said...

We still need to take everything you mentioned for your first time except for the rental agreement and elector voter card.
We have always needed "infantil" sized fotos.
Even after filling in all the forms online and printing them off, etc., the other requirements such as bank statements, letter, copies of all were still needed last Sept. here.
You get off easy.  It seems like we could do it in our sleep now though as I go armed with copies and originals of everything and just pull them out as they ask for them, not before lol.
have fun manana.

John Calypso said...

It should be noted that each immigration office seems to have some of their own requirements and that your experience in no way necessarily represents the  experience of another (even in the same office - dare I report ;-)

Steve Cotton said...

Too true. And anything I learned last year is not necessarily valid this year.  But I will keep you posted on my experience.  I trust it will not be as convoluted as your license plate experience.

Steve Cotton said...

And I understand initial applications and the 5-year renewals will still require everything in Manzanillo. When I drive down tomorrow, I am going to take copies of bank statements. Just in case.

NWexican said...

Is there a Mexican Welfare roll?

Steve Cotton said...

Yup. And Mexico does not need to add any more indigents to it.

John Calypso said...

 Anita is on her fourth visa (she has had six - but we had an interruption.) This time was my first having always been here with a tourist visa up to now. Happy to not be mojado 4-6 months out of the year. We BOTH had to provide financial info - different there. But it has been streamlined a bit. I think we did everything in three visits this year.

 As you mentioned six visits to get our car plated in Oaxaca from Veracruz - in fairness one visit was interrupted by a short workers strike.

Steve Cotton said...

 Were the "short w

Felipe Zapata said...

Sí, señor. There is always mañana.

Felipe Zapata said...

A couple of years ago my wife and I overheard a woman telling another woman that her "pension" from López Obrador had not arrived, supporting my belief that a portion of his votes is purchased. I'm betting that he gets the money from Hugo Chávez. Really.

I've never heard of this Mexican welfare roll Steve mentions, but that does not mean he is not correct. One thing that is handed out here by some levels of government is goody bags. Provisions.  Food, live chickens, you name it.

Merida Mikey said...

I've never heard of a "welfare" program, per se, in Mexico.  Here in the Yucatan, political parties and hopefuls do provide handouts and even medical and dental care to the pueblos, and there is an "old age" pension system.  There are charitable organizations such as DIF, Red Cross, Salvation Army, and the like, but not a welfare program that I know of.  That certainly doesn't mean there isn't one though.  Do you know the name of the "program" as I personally know some very poor Mexican families that could benefit from such a program. 

Good luck with your FM-3 renewal.  The rules may very well change before you start your engine to head to Manzanillo!

Steve Cotton said...

Our church does community service work through a Mexican governmental agency: DIF.  Most of the services offered are food-related.  But I know of one monetary project to assist mothers to keep their children in school.  The programs remind me of the type of work agencies did up north before the government calcified welfare.

Steve Cotton said...

 And it is.  All went well.  But that is today's post.

Steve Cotton said...

 We work through DIF.  And, as I said, I am aware of other monetary programs aimed at promoting other social ends.