Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Pustule

Robin mentioned a pustule on her blog the other day, and while that's not exactly what I plan to talk about today, it sums up my feelings for the entire process.

Later today we get to go back to Immigration to continue the process for my FM3 visa. My marriage certificate -- now properly apostilled from a kind soul in Springfield, IL -- spent two days at a lawyer's office getting translated (for the second time) and now we get to bring it to the local municipal building to get registered*. Then we must bring the pile of papers to the Mexican Immigration office to get everything finalized. I have no idea how long it will take for that to happen.

Now, I need to clear a few things up. I've inadvertently confused A LOT of people with all this talk of immigration, but the process I'm taking care of right now has nothing to do with Ibis' attempt to get back in the United States. What I'm talking about is documentation to legally keep ME in Mexico.

When you travel to Mexico (I'm assuming you all travel by plane) you fill out a form that states how long you'll be in the country, and an immigration official gives you back the bottom portion -- a square piece of paper -- to hang onto until you leave. That's called a tourist visa. You can stay in Mexico on a tourist visa for 180 days, and so far I've timed my visits home to coincide with the end of each 180-day period. This past March we decided we couldn't justify the expense when we think we might be out of here soon so we went to Immigration to find out what our options were.

Turns out the cheapest option was for me to apply for an FM3 visa, which is valid for one year and is renewable for up to five years. (After that they want you to apply for more permanent status.)

Even though we don't want to be here any longer than necessary, we opted for the year-long visa, and that's where all the running around began. To apply as Ibis' dependent, we needed to register our marriage certificate with the Mexican government, but that had to be apostilled -- in the state where the marriage took place -- so it would be viewed as an official government document. We originally thought it just needed to be translated, but that was just a waste of time and money. The apostille needs to be translated, so we had that done this week, and finally, today, we're going back to have it all registered. Then back to Immigration.

I realize I did a poor job of explaining this last time, and I may have confused you even more this time around, but I felt really bad when everyone was wishing me good luck so we could get home soon, when really this is keeping me in the country. I'm actually NOT ALLOWED to leave Mexico right now because I don't have any form of visa.

Ironic, eh?

*I have no idea what this "registering" accomplishes.


Melanie's Mom said...

I suspect registering at the municipal office is so the govt of Mexico recognizes your marriage. Once you have a valid marriage in Mexico's eyes, you can use the marriage as the basis for your visa. The word for the day is "plams."

Melanie Avila said...

Mom, that makes sense. So I'll finally be recognized as his wife here, cool. :)

spyscribbler said...

Geez-a-wheeze. Talk about red tape, for crying out loud.

Very ironic. But I'm still hoping you get to come home soon. :-)

Penguin said...

I guess I am a simple person with a simple thought process.

Here is the thought.
You cannot leave the country because you do not have a visa. You do not want to leave the country at this time.
Solution, do not get a visa. They cannot let you leave Mexico.

Problem solved.

So why do they say you can't leave the country?

Melanie Avila said...

Spy, this is only the actual steps we need to take. I haven't told you how many visits it takes to get a straight answer and finally figure out what exactly we have to do. I've been to Immigration at least six or seven times, and Ibis has been to the government building three times. He has to go back Monday, then I'll go to Immigration again, and that's just to finish the APPLICATION.

Melanie Avila said...

Penguin, your logic is sound. The problem is when I eventually go to leave. We've heard that they make you pay $5 per day that you stay over your visa, which if it was two months is still cheaper than a flight home. I asked the immigration woman what would happen if I didn't do anything and she changed the topic, which leads me to think nothing would happen. But I'm afraid of causing more problems for myself by being illegal here. We don't need the headache while we're already trying to resolve his problems.

Nadine said...

Instead of flying all the way home, could you just catch a flight into Texas or California (whichever one is closer and cheaper) and renew your tourist visa?

I'm sorry you have to go through all this!

Melanie Avila said...

Nadine, I did look into LA and that was pretty cheap. I have a couple people I COULD stay with, but it's such a hassle and you end up spending more money while you're there... we thought about driving to the border on the Guatemala side, but again, it all costs money.

Robin said...

You're giving petty beaurocrats jobs, silly! If this situation isn't a pustule, I don't know what one is.

Janet said...

Isn't it a royal pain in the butt? I won't bother you with the details of my husband's getting his green card, but once he had applied, he wasn't allowed to leave the States. Unless, of course, he paid handsomely for the privilege. Which meant, of course, that it is a paying proposition for the American government to draw out the process as long as possible. Like for years, so he could pay over and over again.

And to add insult to injury, the papers he was paying for were called "parole" papers.

The (American) customs officials at the border crossing were threatening to hold a party for him when he finally got it, they felt so sorry for him. Crazy world, isn't it?

Melanie Avila said...

Robin, I knew you'd understand. :P

Melanie Avila said...

Janet, that sounds like a nightmare! The man at the Mexican consulate in Chicago was very sympathetic to my plight when I was trying to get things in order to come here. It makes you realize that EVERYONE thinks the system is screwed up, even the people who work there.