When we last left Roxane and Ed's excellent adventure (proof of the pudding), the three of us were driving back to the beach from Colima. Both of them had passed their Spanish fluency test at the University of Colima with flying colors.
With his certificate in hand, Ed had returned to the naturalization office for what we estimated to be his ninth visit during the past few years -- in high hopes that he had everything he needed to forward his citizenship application to Mexico City for processing. It turned out not everything was to the satisfaction of the processing clerk.
She told Ed he needed to go to the immigration office in Manzanillo to clear up a concern she had about one of his Mexican residency cards. Even though he felt a bit let down, he and Roxane went to the immigration office the next day and witnessed an incredibly efficient retrieval of the card. (Remember all of those documents you gave to immigration over the years to renew visas? The copies I always imagined were trashed the moment I left the office? They are stored in thick folders.)
So, on Friday, we headed back up to Colima in the hope that it would be our last trip. If you are laughing at our naivete, you are jumping ahead in the story. But you would be correct.
The clerk informed Ed he now needed to return to the Manzanillo immigration office to get another document. What was frustrating was that the clerk knew about that missing piece when we talked with her on Wednesday, but she did not mention it. So, on Monday, Ed will need to go back to the same immigration office where he was on Thursday to retrieve more information that he could have retrieved earlier had he received a timely request.
I do not ascribe motives to people. Making windows into people's souls is a fool's mission. But there is nothing to do other than to comply as long as Ed wants to become a citizen. He soldiers on.
I thought it might be helpful to set out the ten requirements for applying for Mexican citizenship based on the government's web site. If you want to see the original, you can find it at: http://sre.gob.mx/carta-de-naturalizacion-por-residencia. The edited, English version is mine. As are the comments, they are mine and not legal advice. They are merely some musings I have picked up in the process.
1. The applicant must be an adult.
I qualify -- at least, by years. There is no requirement of acting like an adult.
2. The applicant must complete an application (with the very bureaucratic name of DNN-3) completed either on a typewriter or by hand in black ink. Printed. Legibly. Bring along the original and a copy.
That step sounds easier than it is. I have never been very accomplished at filling out government forms -- even though I have been doing it for over five decades now. But this is a good exercise to show Spanish comprehension (and, for Americans, the ability to convert real measurements into metric). It is also the opportunity the applicant is given to explain exactly why he wants to be a Mexican citizen.
As for the copies, bring three. For some reason, three seems to be a magic number at the Colima office.
3. The applicant must be able to prove he has been a permanent resident in Mexico for five years prior to filing for naturalization. The original documents and two copies must be presented.
There is bad information going around about what constitutes proof of the five years of permanent residency. The best proof will soon be the permanent resident card itself. But they have been in effect for only the past three years. The other two years require proof from the prior visa system.
Prior to the permanent resident card, visas were divided into FM2 and FM3 categories. Only FM2 time applies to meet the rest of the five-year requirement. Time sent in Mexico on an FM3 is the same as if the applicant had lived here on a tourist card making artisan jewelry. In other words -- it is about as helpful as having only one copy of anything.
And, as for those two copies, bring three.
4. A certified birth certificate is required. But not just certified, it must also have an apostille attached. Then both of them must be translated by a certified translator. The original and two copies must be presented.
Almost everyone has a certified birth certificate. What most people do not have is an apostille that certifies the certified document is what it purports to be. In my case, I will need the Oregon Secretary of State to create an apostille for my birth certificate. (This is one step that causes a lot of people to start asking: "Why?" Don't bother. Just do it.)
Again, two copies means three copies.
5. The application must copy each page of his passport. The original passport and two copies must be presented.
This one is easy (and it ties into the next requirement). Black and white copies are acceptable. I am not going to take a chance. It will be color for me.
Oh, yeah, be certain to copy the cover.
Again, two copies means three copies.
6. The applicant must present a letter and two copies, under oath, clearly indicating the number of exits out of and entries into Mexico for the two years prior to filing the application.
In theory, the entries and exits should be the same as those in the passport. The purpose of the requirement is to establish that the applicant has not been outside of Mexico in excess of the number of days allowed in Article 21 of the Nationality Act.
I am not certain what "under oath" means here. In Oregon, it would mean a notarization is required. I need to find out more.
7. The applicant must provide proof of no criminal record at the federal and state level. Two photocopies.
This is the trickiest of the requirements. The federal certificate is issued in Mexico City. For we beach dwellers, the Jalisco certificate is issued in El Grullo, a mountain town hours away.
The tricky part is not the travel. Each of the certificates is good for only 90 days. As you can tell from Ed's adventure, the certificates could easily expire while trying to satisfy the clerk concerning "missing" documents.
My suggestion is to obtain the certificates as the very last items before you submit your application.
The 2? You already know.
8. The applicant must exhibit an ability to speak Spanish, to know Mexican history, and provide proof of integration in the Mexican culture.
Anyone over the age of 60 is not required to take the history test. That is too bad. On the sample tests, I usually score high. Of course, Mexican history is one of my passions.
And I have already told you about the language test (proof of the pudding). Simply knowing that a basic understanding of conversation and written skills in Spanish is sufficient to get a certificate has helped ease my mind about the process.
Three copies of the certificate from the University of Colima would be a safe bet.
As for the "cultural integration" requirement, I suspect that element may be part of the "why I want to be a Mexican citizen" answer in the application.
9. No application would be worth its salt without the requirement of two identical recent photographs, passport size (4.5 x 3.5 cms). White background. Frontal. No glasses. Bareheaded.
These, of course, will appear in your shiny new Mexican passport once the naturalization process is completed. I like to think of this requirement as the ray of hope.
10. The applicant must provided proof of payment for the application fees. Original only.
And what those fees are, I do not know. Nor do I care. Once I get to the tenth step, I will be joyous. And exhausted.
As for that "original only," don't believe it. Make three copies.
So, there you are. Ten little steps whose simple language masks what could easily be a modern equivalent of the Labors of Hercules. Or, at least, Sisyphus-lite.
In twenty months, it will be what I am doing. I hope Ed and Roxane will be driving me up to Colima for my starring role. Come to think of it, that is just about the time Roxane may apply.
We will see you on the other side. I hope.