Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Guatemala is Out of the Picture

I'm almost legalized.

Today I'm going back to the immigration offices to finish my application for an FM3 visa. I received a few notes about this yesterday, so I thought I'd explain.

When you vacation in Mexico, you fill out a form on the plane and there's a small scrap of paper you're supposed to keep until you leave. Not everyone pays much attention to it, but that's your tourist visa. When you fly, officials note the date you're leaving and write in the amount of time you'll be in the country. But, you can specify that you'll be there for up to 180 days, which is what I've been doing since moving here two years ago. It costs $20, plus whatever you pay to get to the border or leave the country.

(I'm assuming the arrangement is similar for other countries, but my travels have been limited to Northern American.)

When I was first moving here, I looked into an FM3 visa, which allows a foreigner to stay for one year and is renewable for five years. It's more expensive (roughly $160) but if you consider you don't need to travel every six months, it makes more sense. The problem I faced at the time is I didn't qualify for any of the requirements for an FM3. Off the top of my head, they were retiree, student, artist, and a couple others that I can't remember. But no option for "I want to go live in Mexico with my husband." So I opted for the tourist visa.

Well, my tourist visa is expiring. Of course it slipped my mind with all our visitors so now we're in a bit of a rush, but as long as we file the paperwork before it expires, the nice lady at immigration assures us I'll be fine. Plus, no one has ever asked to see my documents in the two years I've been here (knock on wood), so I don't think it'd make a huge difference.

Apparently I now qualify as Ibis' dependent and can get an FM3 visa based purely on him. We went in to the offices yesterday and got the process started, and today I get to return with, among other things, eight pictures of myself, including four profile shots. Lovely.

I was told I can't leave the country while my application is processing, and at first I panicked because I thought I heard her say three months, but it's just three weeks. That'll be over before I know it.

No word yet where these profile shots will be displayed...

15 comments:

Janna Qualman said...

Good luck with it! I hope all goes smoothly.

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks! Right now I'm trying to find a map of town because they need that for the paperwork. I have NO idea why, but whatever. Problem is, the only maps you can find only show the touristy areas, so I'm going to have to draw the road where we live, lol.

Penguin said...

You need to give them a map so they know where to find you. Think about it, how had is it to find someone once they enter the US. I don't think Mexico would be any different. But there is nothing saying you can't give a bad map.
It makes sense, but totally unenforceable, most likely the law got passed a long time ago, or a mercy Law was passed.
Anyway it is good for you to not be a tourist. Does this mean you can work?

Robin said...

I don't understand why you weren't eligable for the FM thingie in the beginning. But at least it seems to be working out without too much hassle.

Turkey Lurkey said...

I hope everything goes to plan!

colbymarshall said...

*Fingers crossed*

spyscribbler said...

But weren't you always an artist? Or do they mean artist in the very specific sense, like a visual artist?

Melanie Avila said...

Penguin, you were right. I provided a map but it wasn't detailed enough so now I get to put my design skills to work!

The visa I'm getting will be as Ibis' dependent, not a work visa. I'm not sure what it would take to switch it, but right now it doesn't give me permission.

Melanie Avila said...

Robin, I probably could have figured it out but I was doing it all on my own with limited time and a hundred thousand other things to deal with. I basically took the easy way out at the time and never bothered trying again.

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Turkey & Colby!

(mmm... now I'm hungry for a turkey & cheese sandwich...)

Melanie Avila said...

Spy, I'm not really sure what designated one as an artist, in terms of qualifying for that visa. It did cross my mind though.

Nadine said...

I'm hoping that this is a good foreshadowing. You are now legalized there, and soon he will be legalized in the US!

gypsyscarlett said...

Good luck, Melanie! I really hope everything works out.

"But no option for 'I want to go live in Mexico with my husband.'"
-you'd *think* there would be some regard for spouses.

Melanie Avila said...

Nadine, I'm not legalized yet. Almost...

I'm really hoping Murphy will come into play and the day I get my FM3 we'll hear from the DHS.

Melanie Avila said...

Gypsy, I couldn't believe there wasn't that option. Jaciel, the patient man who helped me at the Mexican Consulate, tried, but there's no option like that.