Wednesday, June 10, 2015

stop the clock

Or should that be: "Re-start the clock?"

Since I returned from my China trip, I have repeatedly told you I intend to stay inside the border of Mexico for the next two years.  All of that has to do with my desire to obtain Mexican citizenship.

The two years of internal exile is actually one I have imposed on myself.  The official requirement is that people who apply for citizenship are allowed to leave the country a limited number of days two years before applying for citizenship.  If any of those days are spent outside of the country, the applicant has to submit a certified letter explaining the absences.

I decided it would be far easier to simply have zero absences to explain.  Thus, the two year stay-in-place rule. 

And that did not bother me.  There are plenty of places for me to visit within Mexico.  I certainly discovered that with Dan and Patty this past January on our trip through southern Mexico.  And there are all of those upcoming furniture-purchasing trips to Guadalajara, Pubela, and Mexico City.

It turns out I may have started my two-year clock a bit prematurely, though.

One of Mexico's government sites gave me the impression I could use all of my time in Mexico to satisfy the five-year residency requirement.  When I moved to Mexico, there were two types of residential visas: FM2 and FM3.  The FM2 was designed for people who had an interest in citizenship.

There were some advantages for me in having an FM3 visa -- the most obvious one being that I could keep my Oregon-plated vehicle in Mexico.  And, at the time, I had not yet decided to become a Mexican citizen.

Just over two years ago, the FM2 and FM3 visa system was abolished.  On 25 March 2013, I converted my FM3 visa to a permanent resident card.  (In a sardonic international twist, the card is green.)

I give you the back story because that brings us to that government site I initially used to establish my steps to citizenship.  The site clearly states that an applicant must have been a resident of Mexico with a certain type of visa for 5 years prior to applying.

On my first reading, it appeared that the time spent on an FM3 visa would now count toward the five years.  If that was a correct reading, I would have qualified to apply for citizenship in April of last year.

It turns out my reading was incorrect.  I have found other sites that clearly restrict the five-year requirement to time with a former FM2 visa and the current permanent resident card.  I suspect the government's attempt to be a bit too lawyerly led to my confusion.  That failing is familiar to me.

If I cannot use my FM3 time, I will not qualify to apply for citizenship until 25 March 2018 -- and my two-year in-place requirement will not start until 24 March 2016.  A full nine months from now.

That recalculation also means my travel plans can be a bit more flexible than I originally planned.  Our local travel group, Mex-eco Tours, is putting together a Guatemala tour in early 2016.  I thought I would be precluded from participating.  I can now go.

When I bought the house, I decided I was going to drive to Oregon this summer to retrieve a few boxes of books and household goods that I had left at my brother's and my mother's houses.  They are not much.  But the books would be a rather classy touch to help decorate the new house.  It will also be another opportunity to tempt my brother into another road trip.

I am disappointed that I will now be drawing very near to 70 when I become a Mexican citizen.  But re-setting the clock will give me some freedom to enjoy life in a different way than I had planned.

And that will be just fine.

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